There is a spiritual and physical stocktaking that a haunted man worries about when the omens get bad enough. I have seen many men in my life do this. It is like a karmic tally in their head – I’ve committed these crimes and humbled to these acts of goodness. Some of these men have done bad things for good reasons. Some of them did bad things for bad reasons. Either way, they are all trying to wash themselves of their sins.
We have all committed crimes of the heart. There are people we’ve humiliated, bad awful things we’ve said, and the wonderful things we never did say. We have punished ourselves and others with these acts, adding to the suffering of our world.
To move on, we must let our hearts break in the awfulness of this truth. When we move beyond the blame, and take accountability of our suffering, redemption is possible. We are capable of shedding our guilt. Within the chaos of our shame, rage, and disappointment there is meaning and possibility of rescue.
It is time to stop punishing yourself. It’s time to forgive. Forgiveness does exist. It is a powerful process of initiation. Without it, our species would have annihilated itself in endless retributions. There would be no history. Not forgiving will kill you. When you are locked into something and it captures your reason, it will start to define your life. The boulder of punishment must be removed from the road or you won’t be able to move forward.
There are four stages of forgiveness:
1. The shattering wound
This sets the stage. The initial wound shatters the roots of your life. If it goes deep, it has the potential to generate chaos.
2. The Story:
The Story gets discovered and starts to be retold. You step onto a hamster wheel. The story is personal and gets repeated in other aspects of your life.
3. Break down and break through
During the breakdown, we realize that the story is impersonal. There is a realization that life is completely impersonal. It does not protect anyone more or less than anyone else. We are all human beings living the best we can. If we decide that human “fairness” is what is in our favor, we set ourselves up to fail. Sometimes a big breakdown needs to happen for us to realize this. This can look like illness, an accident, or even a death. If we catch it early, we can avoid these kinds of tragedies.
4. The decision to let go
Finally, we realize that we don’t actually know what is going on here. We don’t and can’t fully understand karma. We can only try to understand our own heart and soul. We are only responsible for ourselves. How we treat people and how we respond to the world around us. It is unreasonable for us to attach to expectations of other people. This does not mean you don’t feel the pain! But it does mean that it is no longer a boulder in your road.
Forgiveness can be tricky. Some of the worst things we caused by people who tried to change the world for the better. Are we ever justified in what we do? We may never know. What we do know, is that someone out there is trying to forgive you right now. It doesn’t matter how little or big your actions, the smallest thing can cut very deep into someones heart. We hurt each other all the time.
Struggling to forgive is human. Yet it is essential to our health. It is a process that our soul craves and pushes us to move into. So that we can live freely.