STEP NINE CONTINUED: Forgive ourselves for all harm we may have caused, even if it was well-intended.
Instruction: Accept forgiveness.
For those who struggle with the ability to forgive themselves, accepting forgiveness from another source can often be a turning point in their lives. Many religions teach that their Higher Power is the source of ultimate forgiveness and no matter what heinous deeds we may be guilty of, we can always receive forgiveness from that divine source. Some religions even go so far as to claim that our trespasses will be forgiven, forgotten, and erased from the records of time. If that is true and if our Higher Power can forgive and forget, shouldn’t we also try our best to forgive those who have harmed us and forgive ourselves for any harm we may have done to others?
Many religions also provide a personal representative of their Higher Power who has supposedly been given the ability to grant forgiveness on behalf of that divine source to the followers of their religion. In some religions, there are multiple individuals, such as priests, who have been given that power. We do not judge these religions as right or wrong; we simply point out that it is often easier to accept forgiveness when it comes from another source that we feel has the authority to forgive our sins, trespasses, mistakes, and mishaps. Why is one individual’s ability to forgive our mistakes greater than our own ability to forgive our own mistakes? Some have asked for forgiveness from a religious leader and felt their sins had been forgiven only to discover later that the person granting absolution was guilty of similar sins and lapses of morality. Does that mean our forgiveness was not granted? I don’t think so. If one person can forgive another in the name of a deity, can’t we all simply forgive others and ourselves? Wouldn’t that divine being be pleased? If having someone to confess to helps an individual, they should not be denied the comfort of knowing their sins are forgiven.
Today’s lesson might be difficult for some to accept. Our assignment today is to consider the possibility that we can be ministers, priest, and rabbis to one another. If we still feel more comfortable seeking forgiveness from a holy man or woman, there is nothing wrong with doing so, and we do not discourage it. Our point here is recognizing the power of forgiveness can come from multiple sources.
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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.