STONE THIRTEEN CONTINUED
Love: I learn to deepen my ability to love when I learn to tolerate, accept, embrace, and forgive. I choose to employ these attributes to my spiritual walk, to my personal relationships, and to my world view.
Instruction: Forgive to love.
The most prominent theme that echoes in this book and in all of Religious Recovery is forgiveness. It is appropriate to return to it once more, because it is a vital part of love. We want to know and have a relationship with our Higher Power, but some religious groups seem to have made The Divine inaccessible to us unless and until we ask for divine forgiveness. These religious organizations also want to define what that looks like. In order for us to receive divine forgiveness — and divine love — we must first admit our mistakes and then ask for forgiveness. Having a relationship with The Divine, therefore, is dependent upon our repentance and divine forgiveness. Some would go further and define what forgiveness looks like in human terms, which, in their interpretation, means church attendance, tithing (donating ten percent of one’s income to the church), serving the church, and other rules and regulations. I disagree. Love is not love when it is conditioned on our behavior. Forgiveness is not forgiveness when it is also based on conditions.
Within the concept of forgiveness, I understand the need to separate ourselves at times from those who have hurt and abused us, but separation and forgiveness can work together. We don’t withhold our forgiveness, but we don’t have to allow the hurt and abuse to continue. We don’t have to allow our abusers to have power and control over us. These individuals will often try to manipulate us by telling us that if we love them and forgive them, then we must continue to have a relationship with them. Their thinking seems logical to them, and they can be insistent, but one of the greatest acts of love we can provide another person is to allow them to grow up, make their mistakes, and allow them to be responsible for their own journey. We are not here to fix them, but to travel with them for a time — only for as long as our combined journey is safe. Love is unconditional, but part of what it means to love is to also love ourselves. There are occasions when we must balance our need for love against another person’s need for love. By listening to our Higher Power and the divine Voice within us, we will find that balance and our love will complete ourselves and the world around us.
Today’s Assignment is to consider if the amount of love you give and receive is in balance. Are you able to separate yourself from those who would take advantage of your forgiveness and love? Are you able, at times, to set aside your needs in order to tend to the needs of another? Are you also able to say “no” to the needs of someone else in order to love and care for yourself? A healthy life is a balanced life. Strive for balance — especially in the areas of love and forgiveness.
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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.