STEP SEVEN CONTINUED: Choose to forgive those who hurt us in the name of religion.
Instruction: Tell someone.
When I probed deeper into the idea of forgiveness, I found it difficult to put the concepts into practice. I’ve been around enough people to know that my experience was not unique. Forgiveness sounds like a good idea, but putting it into practice sometimes causes us to stumble. During those times when I struggled, I could call to mind someone I felt had hurt me in some way, and, immediately, my emotions would come into play. I would begin to relive the pain and anger I felt at the time. Quite often, the incident occurred years in the past, and the person who had hurt me had often moved on and left me sitting in my grief. Overcoming some of these incidents often takes a simple determination to forgive and let go. Other situations require a little more help. That is why we suggest that we tell someone about our hurts, disappointments, and abuses caused by religious leaders or by simply the struggles of living.
The idea of having someone to confess our sins, mistakes, and blunders to is nothing new, but the idea of confessing to another in a positive way might be new to some. We often tell someone about our hurts, but too often it can come across as pettiness or even gossip. It’s important to carefully choose the person to whom we want to confide. At times, a religious or spiritual individual is an excellent choice, because they understand the need for confidentiality and anonymity. Sometimes a trained counselor can help, and we can also find guidance from a trusted friend. It is important that these individuals listen well, and that they also offer a different perspective than the one that has been keeping us in chains of un-forgiveness. We often remember not only the facts of a situation, but we also carry with us our interpretation of the events. Along with those interpretations, we also tend to assign to those who hurt us the motivation that created the event. What we sometimes forget is that the motivation we assign isn’t always real. We interpret based on our past, but we don’t always interpret accurately. Someone looking from the outside can often point this out to us and help us to see another interpretation—one that allows us to live in grace and forgiveness.
Today’s assignment is take a look at an isolated incident from your past that you still have trouble processing with love, forgiveness, and healing. Consider the perspective of the one who hurt or abused you, and ask yourself if there could be another interpretation for what he or she said or did. At times we jump to conclusions without examining the foundation of our beliefs. Consider whether that might be true in the situation you are examining. Try to give grace and forgiveness, and if you still struggle, consider sharing your story with a trusted friend, counselor, or mentor.
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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.