The most powerful challenges humans endure are obstacles of the heart. Whenever we decide to open up and trust someone, the decision can either backfire to gnaw at us as we burn with regret, or it can yield kind, supportive, and pleasurable long term results.
Regardless of the outcome, how foiled we can be, and how easy it is to ignore the signs people send about who they are, our choice to open up and let someone in is always inspired by the desire for love.
"The Father's Forgiveness" by Daniel Boone
All of life’s most agonizing moments - the loss of a friendship, having your partner cheat on you, watching a project fall apart (oh man, there are so many more) - hurt because of love. There is no way to get through this lifetime without experiencing heartache. And so, we must learn to forgive...again and again and again. We must be reborn...again and again.
Like the Zen Proverb says, “Let go or be dragged.”
I believe there is a lesson in every wound. To mature and evolve is to take the steps needed to learn these lessons, to prevent the same kind of tragedies from happening in the same way, to create a different experience for yourself and others. Extracting wisdom from our past is often the only way to look back at the miseries and mishaps and compounded stressors of life with peace of mind. To love yourself is to constantly strive to build your character despite struggle, to be inspired and enlightened by what you’ve been through, to be so faithful to the power of connection that you dare to open your heart again in a more informed way. To do this you have to know that love and peace is underneath all the ebbs and flows, always.
The weak heart breaks in half and then hardens to become a steel fortress that keeps everyone a yardstick away.
The empowered heart is able to grieve fully and move on. The empowered heart can handle life’s let downs and assaults and remain tender.
Because the truth is, most of the time, people hurt us unconsciously. Failures in foresight and empathy happen with even the most nobly intentioned, self-controlled individuals. Sometimes people do what they've gotta do to take care of themselves. Other times our insecurities make us lust for power over others. We make the mistakes we need to in order to learn what we must.
Who am I to judge what's the greatest good for all?
Who am I to reject part of the nature of life?
Who am I to deny myself and others the experience of necessary loss?
We can harbor a worldview where things happen to us. Or we can live our lives in a way where we see events as passing through us and for us.
However, you always have a choice, to get over what’s hurt you or not. To let go of what's dead. It can take five minutes or it can take 50 years. The point is, you’ll hurt less if you move forward, and you’ll probably hurt others less too. People have a way of using their unresolved pain as a way to gain pity and sympathy from others, to lighten to the load of everyday responsibility, as a reason why it's okay to treat others with disrespect.
Forgiveness is a tough and liberating act that is one of the closest earthly encounters humans have with the realm of the miraculous. Its ripple effects are immeasurable.
Remember: everyone has someone to forgive. Everyone has someone walking around working to forgive them.
As we meditate on the dramas of life, what ultimately arises is compassion for it all. No matter how awfully you interpret a person’s behavior, you can still choose to see their essence as the same as yours. You can choose to believe that we are all human beings, stuck in a weird meat suit with lots of nerve endings, on a complicated mission to love and be loved, to be equal with another in a world with few examples of what that entails. And sometimes we go about this journey in a way that gets us the exact opposite of what we yearn for.
Forgive the blunders. Forgive the folly.
It's all love desperately looking for itself.
words by Alison Sher
*Thank you to Caroline Myss Ph.D. and her book The Anatomy of the Spirit for inspiring many of the thoughts in this article.