STEP EIGHT CONTINUED
Seek forgiveness from those we hurt unless doing so would cause further harm.
Instruction: Accept unspoken forgiveness.
Forgiveness doesn’t have to be a verbal recognition. By the same measure, our apology doesn’t have to be spoken. There are times when I’ve acted poorly with those I love, and, on occasions, when my behavior has been especially bad, I’ve gone to the store and purchased a gift, usually flowers or a card, and left it for the one I injured. The gift might be accompanied by the words, “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” or the gift might simply be left in silence. The meaning is implied, and although most people like to hear the words, the gesture can be adequate, and, at times, the gift can mean more that the words we say. Words are easy to say, but taking the time and energy to present something we can hold on to and cherish, often carries more weight and expresses our regrets, our love, and our commitment better than words, and it also keeps us from saying the wrong words.
At times, the ones we want to forgive us are no longer with us. Those who have died cannot give us their forgiveness through their words. We can visit their graves and offer our apologies, and for many this can prove to be helpful. We can also take flowers with us and lay them on their grave as a gesture of our remorse for not making amends before it was too late. I believe the dead are merely transformed into a spirit form, and I believe they can still hear us and watch over us, but I can’t prove it. For myself, and for many others, that thought is comforting and allows us to accept the unspoken forgiveness.
Whatever method works for each individual to release their past hurts, disappointments, and seeming failures is what they should do. Living with unresolved guilt isn’t necessary. If we regret what we have done to another person, in the name of religion or for any other reason, a simple acknowledgement such as saying, “I’m sorry, please forgive me,” is all that is necessary. If someone fails to accept that apology, or can’t because they are no longer with us, then we must accept it from our Higher Power.
Today’s Assignment is as we consider this Step, try to use your ability of discernment to determine when a verbal apology is needed and when a silent apology is the best course of action. You might also want to consider when to make use of a gesture such as a gift, but, for many people, the best apology, with or without words, is a change of behavior.
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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.