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Forgiveness

by Jackie Woods

When something bad happens to your child, your friend, your partner, or even your co-worker, it makes you look backward at the times you might have been “more.” Whatever the more represents doesn’t matter; it feels like a heavy fog hanging over you—sometimes big and sometimes small. Maybe you judgmentally remember the times when you might have been friendlier, kinder, or more supportive. Perhaps you are ashamed that you talked badly about the person behind their back. Or you may carry guilt for not saying I love you enough, even though you did love the person.

It is easy to beat ourselves up about what has been, but sometimes it is difficult to forgive the fact that we are less than perfect. Most people hold some standard of perfection for themselves that can only be attained part of the time. Of course, some people are better at meeting their standard of perfection than others, but that may be because of the wide variance of standards. However, everyone I know has experienced guilt about who they feel they should have been but weren’t.

This heavy burden of not measuring up happens a lot to parents who watch their prodigy stumble over rough spots in life. It haunts those who have had a loved one die. And it surfaces as nightmares when a person has badly messed up at work. It is amazing that so much guilt, shame, and humiliation claim the emotional lives of most of humanity, when the antidote of forgiveness is simple and available.

Forgiveness is sort of like a healing balm that tastes bad at first until you get used to it. Then it actually begins to taste good. The bad tasting part is present while you are facing the fact that the standard of perfection you hold in your unconscious mind isn’t foolproof. Just because your unconscious mind holds the image of how you should look, act, interact, feel, and think, doesn’t mean that it is correct. It isn’t correct because humans can only learn by making mistakes. And it isn’t correct because the standard in your unconscious mind was not put there by your spirit, but by outside players.

The good taste of the healing balm begins to bubble up as you place your bad act on a sacrificial “altar.” The altar can be an envisioned one or it can be a real physical item. But whatever you use, it must symbolically represent the release of guilt for being human. And being human means you don’t have to always have emotional control, be mentally right, or never mess up in the physical. But every human has a loving spirit that understands mistakes and shortcomings. And that loving spirit is always there waiting for you to put your imagined fault on the altar of forgiveness so that the space the fault held in your unconscious mind can be replaced with love.

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