What does it mean to forgive? My dad used to say, “I forgive but I don’t forget.” Some of us can neither forgive or forget. I’ve been there a few times in my life.
What I’ve come to understand is that forgiveness is a daily practice just like any other spiritual practice. I don’t just get to forgive and then go back to business as usual. Why is this? Because I am living and breathing and having new experiences every day. Because I still have judgments. I’m working on all of this and learning to live from my highest consciousness, but I haven’t reached my Jesus state of mind at all times quite yet. I’m okay with this and, yes, I forgive myself for it all. I accept myself right where I am and know that I am always expanding.
I learned something really powerful at the recent Ministers’ Gathering that I attended in North Carolina. In a workshop with Harry Morgan Moses, I learned that forgiveness has a lot to do with the expectations we have. We expect people to act in certain ways. We expect ourselves to be a certain way. We know better after all. However, by letting go of those expectations, I can put responsibility where it belongs.
I’ll take a simple example. You are at the store and the cashier is grumpy. She or he is short with you and says something pretty impolite. You do not respond, but leave the store holding on to that. You talk about it and lament about it to your friends and whomever will listen to you. You’ve basically poisoned your day by holding on to something in the past that you cannot change.
What if instead you were to do this? What if you were to let go of the expectation that this cashier would live up to your standards of service? What if you were to really just say, “I cancel the expectation that you treat your customers in a polite way.” Now, by doing this you’ve let go of the responsibility you’ve put on that person and you’ve taken the responsibility back for your reaction. You’ve really disconnected yourself from the angst that you are feeling and holding onto. In the next step, you just send unconditional love.
I’ve tried this method of forgiveness and it is freeing. It frees up my mind and heart. I am more compassionate. I am more open for good. In fact, I am finding that I am not attracting those types of cashiers anymore. Again, this is just a simple example. I trust you get the point.
Our world is a projection of our own consciousness. The more we can live from our heart space and let go of the tremendous expectations we put on ourselves and others, the more of that heart space we free up with love.
Yes, forgiveness is a daily practice and one worth living.