No matter what we do in life, we will make mistakes. Religion has taken many of these mistakes and decided to call them sins. The problem is, however, that once we put this evil connotation with them, it changes the way we handle them. Mistakes are simply that, mistakes. Sins, however, according to some religions, require repentance and restoration. I cringe to think that a loving Creator would be so easily moved to disown His children.
This isn’t simply a matter of major sins that need to be forgiven. They claim that sin is sin, and any break with the Creator requires confession, repentance, and restoration. To be fair, not all believe this way, but the general idea of sin and repentance is a strong religious concept.
What if we were to minimize the role sin plays in our relationship with the Creator? Is our union with The Divine so fragile that we must be on guard every minute of the day? If I can overlook and forgive the “sins” of my children (against me), then surely The Divine overlooks our mistakes more readily than we do if The Divine truly is Love. I suggest we call sins mistakes, and I suggest we minimize the power of those mistakes to separate us from Divine Love. Mistakes are easier to forgive and forget. Nothing can separate us from the love of The Divine. Nothing.
Life is full of challenges, and we tend to label these as good or bad. But, what if we considered them neither? What if we simply allowed all experiences to play out without giving them a value judgment?
We make countless mistakes on a regular basis. If we were to categorize these events and label each as good or bad and stacked them away on a shelf, would the good containers outnumber the bad ones? I recall learning to play the trumpet. I made plenty of mistakes—too many to mention. But, had I given up, I never would have known any measure of success. Our lives are filled with many trials, and we often overcome these trials not through perfect performance, but because we fail and try again.
If we were to go back to our storage room and look through the boxes that we categorized as bad, we might be surprised to learn that as we look back over the situations, we might change our minds and move many of the boxes from the “Bad Experiences” shelves and place them on the “Good Experiences” shelves.
At times things happen that are misunderstood. What we attempted to do was perceived differently by others and, as a result, bad feelings arose. Step Nine addresses this problem from the vantage point of the one whose intentions were good, but the result was less than positive. The inference in this Step is that even though our intentions were good, the result might still have hurt, disappointed, or even abused someone, and we should forgive ourselves for any harm we may have caused.
We also need to consider this Step from the vantage point of the person who has been harmed but who may not realize that it was unintentional. Of course, that doesn’t lessen their pain. Not until they come to realize that no ill will was intended can the injured party begin to let go of the hurt and grant us the forgiveness we seek.
If we are the ones in the place where we have been hurt and it seems to have been cruelly intended, then we can overcome the situation by looking at it from a different perspective. Why did they do what they did? Was their intention to do good or harm? As much as possible we look for the good, the loving, and the kind actions, even if they seem to be missing. After all, we have the ability to rewrite history and to make of our past what we want it to be. No one is responsible for our feelings except us. We choose the perception we want to believe. We choose the feelings we experience as a result of our perception, and we also decide whether we will live in peace or in conflict.
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.