STONE NINE CONTINUED
Transform: By changing my thoughts, I transform my life. I choose to change my thoughts concerning past experiences that hold me in pain. I choose to see them from a higher perspective.
Instruction: See from a higher perspective.
Seeing from a divine perspective can be counterproductive depending on how and what we believe The Divine thinks. If we believe The Divine is anxious to punish us for every missing of the mark that we commit, then trying to see life from that higher perspective will make us judgmental and miserable. Not only will we be prone to judge our fellowman, but we will judge ourselves harshly as well. We will never be good enough, kind enough, loving enough, or perfect in any sense of the word. If we see The Divine as loving, caring, and parental in nature, then when we see life from that higher perspective, we tend to develop the same traits. When we also see The Divine as inclusive of all mankind, forgiving, restoring, and full of grace, we tend to develop those qualities, too.
This higher perspective comes into play when trying to heal from any abuse in order to heal from the past. If we see our Higher Power as loving, we can heal by also being loving, forgiving, and by choosing to view the past differently, gently, and with a greater measure of grace for ourselves and for others. After considering stories of sexual abuse from religious leaders who struggled for perfection and seemed to achieve it in the majority of their life, I found that when it came to sex, they often failed miserably to live up to the standards set by their religious organization — and also imposed upon themselves. Many of those who failed and who molested children knew what they were doing was wrong but didn’t seem to be able to stop themselves. Statistically, people who are sexually abused are less likely to be a sexual abuser. However, it seems from my observations (that are not based on formal studies), that when childhood sexual abuse is teamed with strict religious strictures, it can have the opposite effect. It seems to me that when someone struggles so hard for perfection in so many areas, and when something natural like sex is denied an individual, the result would be much like telling someone it was a sin to eat food, and if they do, they will end up in eternal damnation. I do not approve of the behavior, but by trying to understand at least a little of what motivates it, I can at least have a little sympathy or understanding for the injustice. So, what is the perspective of our Higher Power towards these individuals? Certainly our Higher Power doesn’t approve of the behavior, but I also believe there is sadness, and an immediate desire to want to help that individual stop the behavior and, as much as is possible, set things right. Grace, defined as unmerited favor, may seem inappropriate for certain individuals, but from The Divine’s perspective, everyone is worthy of redemption.
Before leaving this discussion on changing our thoughts, I want to repeat the warning for those who come from a religious experience where the concept of forgiveness has been abused and used to its own advantage. I still believe strongly in radical forgiveness, but I also want to emphasize that often there is a need to set boundaries — to forgive but remove ourselves from the people and situations that caused the abuse. Forgive from a distance. Changing our thoughts is an excellent tool to help us forgive in order to keep bitterness and hatred from overtaking our thoughts, our health, and our peace. But, boundaries often need to be erected until we reach a place where we can live without them. For some, that might never occur in their lifetime, and I believe if we listen to our instincts, we will know if that time comes.
Today’s Assignment is to think on these words and consider if you need to separate yourself from people, situations, or organizations that have the potential to repeatedly abuse you. Always remember that forgiveness is just as important for the one offering forgiveness as it is for the one receiving forgiveness Sometimes we have to forgive someone multiple times, but forgiveness and reconciliation are different. The offended party has the option to work toward reconciliation or to wait until the wounds have healed and they have the strength to try again. Reconciliation is optional, and you don’t have to submit yourself to a situation or person that you believe will hurt or abuse you. Set them and yourself free to walk your own individual paths.
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