I came across several articles on the Internet that encourage people to take time to work through feelings and emotions during the process of forgiving. The articles pointed out that, depending upon the severity of the hurt, it can take months or even years to move through the process to forgiveness. The magazine Psychology Today had several articles on this topic and this one I’ve linked to is one of them.
Also, I found an article/interview of Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan monk, in the Huffington Post where he talks about forgiveness. I thought the interview was very good and I encourage you to read the whole thing.
The best part of the article for me, though, was the last point he made. He made an excellent point and I’d like to share it here:
The People You Can’t Forgive Can’t Fully Be Released Until You Find Something Better to Fill the Hole.
“Releasement, which is just another word for forgiveness, doesn’t entirely work unless we have a larger comfort, a safe and more beautiful enclosure to move toward. If we only empty out, and do not refill with something better, there is still a gaping hole within us. The attempt at forgiveness will not go deep or endure. Without something positive, comforting and loving to fill that hole up (which some call grace), we’re left to depend entirely on willpower — and our willpower is normally very weak, especially on those days of loneliness, stress, tiredness and hunger. So we’ve got to keep our aloneness and emptiness filled with something loving and positive. This is the primary work of spirituality. I know that the word ‘prayer’ has been so trivialized, but it basically means refilling our souls with ‘Everything that is good and noble, everything that is virtuous and worthy of praise’, as Paul says in his letter from a Roman prison that could be called an early lesson in the power of positive thinking (Philippians 4:7-8).
If we can find a way to live inside of a deep gratitude for our own undeserved grace and mercy, past hurts have very little power to cause us pain in any lasting way. They are not worth our time or energy. They are mere sludge and dredge in the great school and journey of life. The gratuitous surrendering of hurts (“forgiveness”), the refusal to make them our identity, is almost the heart of the matter. If you do not transform your pain, you will with 100 percent certainty transmit it to others. And, I am afraid, you will have pain! Both the Buddha and Jesus seem to say that pain is part of the deal, and its overcoming is the very shape of enlightenment.” ~Richard Rohr is a Franciscan friar and the author of Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of St. Francis of Assisi and Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.
I think Father Rohr’s suggestion applies not only to the hole left by releasing others but also applies to the hole that’s left when we release and forgive ourselves.
For me, forgiving myself and others frees up energy, mental space, and time. I have more enthusiasm, more hours, and more thinking capacity to devote to steadily moving toward my dreams.
How about you? How and with what will you fill the hole in your life?
Your Friend and Pep Pal,