Forgiveness: Finding freedom of heart
There is a saying that is often used about the need for the military. It goes like this; “freedom isn’t free”. This concept can be used for many areas of our lives if we wish to un-clutter both our outer and inner selves. Many people struggle with discipline, I know that I do, yet without it, freedom is not possible. The freedom to do whatever we want at any time is in reality the exact opposite of true freedom.
When you look at someone playing the piano at a concert or hear a singer doing an aria at an opera, who lifts up your spirits, it looks easy, and perhaps for them it is, but only after years of disciplined practice and putting up with the everyday rehearsals and going over the singing and playing over and over again. One singer told me that she had to practice many hours every day, if not, her performance would quickly become mediocre. In other words, there is never a time when focus, practice, and restraint are not needed.
The same goes for seeking to grow in inner freedom. While grace, or gift, is always operative, still in order to acquire inner freedom a specific focus is needed. Those on a deeply committed spiritual path know this. They know of the struggle, the failures, and the intense discipline needed to continue on their pathway. I find it amazing that people look upon faith journeys as something for the weak. Finding freedom of heart is a long journey that in reality never ends in this life. We can never stop being pilgrims, for time is unrelenting in its progression.
To struggle with forgiveness is one such inner journey that takes focus, holy-stubbornness, humility, and the ability to trust no matter how intense the inner turmoil is. To not forgive gives power to the one who needs forgiveness. The inner ‘antagonist’ is given more power the actual person, may not even want. Even if they do enjoy their power and control… to not forgive, is to allow their influence to continue leading the one suffering down the road to inner fragmentation. To forgive, to make it conscious is only the beginning of the journey. Our emotions do not always follow our intention. That is why discipline and gentle perseverance is needed.
It can be helpful to also realize that there are people who carry each one of us in their inner world from wounds that we have placed on them. Some of our offenses towards others may have been malicious. If that is so, we need to make amends. Other offenses may be unintended. Understanding that can help us to move towards forgiveness with a ‘little’ less struggle, those who have done grievous things to us.
The deeper we understand ourselves and what we are capable of and what we have actually done to others, can be a very big help in letting go of what others have done to us. Love of self, the forgiveness of self, or to put it another way, to accept forgiveness, is the key to being able to unlock the chains that bind us to one another in a dance of pain, destruction, and inner fragmentation.-Br.MD