IN EXCHANGE FOR A BETTER FUTURE, I HEREBY RENOUNCE MY WISH FOR A BETTER PAST.

Hello dear Reader,

Some time ago I ran into a woman of whom I’m a huge fan, who has been a very important teacher for me, and who I hadn’t seen in quite a while.

She asked me “So Michael, how’re you doing? What’s up? I answered, “All the important stuff is fine. But I’ve been working hard on learning to let go…not so easy”. She looked me in the eyes and responded, “Yeah, that IS the biggie, isn’t it?”

Is it ever!! We need to learn it – big time. Actually, I think it’s the MOST important thing we need to learn, and in EVERY domain of our life; because eventually, we do have to let go of absolutely everything… don’t we?

The late jazz singer Lena Horne used to say that it’s not our load that breaks us. It’s how we carry it. Or, as Bruce Springsteeen puts it, “In the end what we don’t surrender…well the world just strips away.”

Anger and blame, and its roots, are a very, very heavy load to carry around for a lifetime.

Cartoon, Anger

Something central in the domain of “letting go”, absolutely critical on our path to freedom and peace of mind, is FORGIVENESS.

Jerry Jampoklsky, author, doctor, founder of Attitudinal Healing International, neighbor, and dear friend, calls forgiveness “the greatest healer of all”.

A few of his thoughts from his book on the topic:

– Forgiveness is a lifelong work in progress, but with total
forgiveness as our intention.
– Forgiveness enables us to stop recycling anger and blame.
– Choosing not to forgive, is choosing to continue suffering.
– Forgiveness is letting go of all hopes for a better past, in
exchange for a better future
– Forgiving others is the first step to forgiving ourselves.
– Forgiveness allows us to stop thinking of ourselves
as victims.

So, if you do want to put anger and blame down, forgiveness is a HUGE start, and it’s NOT something you are doing FOR somebody else, at least not at the outset. You may end up doing that, but it’s not why you start.

You do it for yourself. It’s an act of love for yourself –for your own healing. Actually, I believe that deep inside, we already do understand, that doing this would be good for us. But, in this very difficult department – of bad stuff done to us – not surprisingly, emotions rule. Very hard to let it go.

And what about the perpetrator, the instigator of your suffering? You are definitely NOT EVER saying or condoning what they did as acceptable or OK. You are NEVER saying that.

On trip to Cambodia a few years ago, I came face to face with the horrific, gruesome evidence of the unimaginable human calamity wreaked upon his country by the brutal dictator, Pol Pot. In his dream to create a communist utopia, he murdered TWO MILLION people…20% of the people…20%!!

I asked my Cambodian guide, (now friend) Thai, this question: “how can the people endure and survive this kind of existential catastrophe and not live in anger and hatred? How can you have your hearts broken on this massive of a scale and still keep them open?”

His response? “Michael, although at this time we are obliged to live in poverty, we have chosen not to live in misery as well.”

So now, in testimony of the power of forgiveness to repair and heal our lives, I’d like to offer you some actual, true instances of the benefits of forgiveness – on a scale which, thankfully, few if any of us will ever have to imagine, let alone offer or receive. They are authentic, but somewhat difficult, so feel free to skip over them if you wish.
I think that all of us are aware of the Rwandan Genocide that took place roughly 20 years ago – the murder of approximately one million Tutsis at the hands of the Hutus. I’d like to very briefly introduce 4 people to you along with their stories. I’ve many more, but 4 is more than plenty.
BTW, have a look at the body language in these photos. Clearly, as Jerry points out, this healing is a work in progress.

Photo rwanda_ss-slide-YIU0-superJumbo
JUVENAL, Perpetrator, (Right)
“I damaged and looted her property. I spent nine and a half years in jail. When I came home, I thought it would be good to approach the person to whom I did evil deeds and ask for her forgiveness. I told her that I would stand by her, with all the means at my disposal.
CANSILDE, Survivor, (Left)

“My husband was hiding, and men hunted him down and killed him on a Tuesday. The following Tuesday, they came back and killed my two sons. I was hoping that my daughters would be saved, but then they took them to my husband’s village and killed them and threw them in the latrine. I was not able to remove them from that hole. I knelt down and prayed for them, along with my younger brother, and covered the latrine with dirt.

“The reason I granted pardon is because I realized that I would never get back the beloved ones I had lost. I could not live a lonely life…I preferred to grant pardon. When someone is full of anger, he can lose his mind. But when I granted forgiveness, I felt my mind at rest.”

 

 

Photorwanda_ss-slide-WXFC-superJumbo

JEAN PIERRE, Perpetrator (left)

“My conscience was not quiet, and when I would see her I was very ashamed. After being trained about unity and reconciliation, I went to her house and asked for forgiveness. Then I shook her hand.”

VIVIANE, Survivor, (right)

“He killed my father and three brothers. He did these killings with other people, but he came alone to me and asked for pardon. He and a group of other offenders who had been in prison helped me build a house with a covered roof. I was afraid of him, but now I have granted him pardon – and in my mind I feel clear. When it comes to forgiveness willingly granted, one is satisfied once and for all.”

After reading these stories, do we need more proof about the power of forgiveness to transform our lives?

 

And finally, a truly remarkable demonstration of forgiveness and human love: it totally blew me away when I first saw it. I’d like to share it with you:

Does the name Peter Kassig ring a bell? Peter, who was doing humanitarian work in Syria, was captured and murdered by the ISIL killers – on television, in front of the entire world. His parents, along with millions of others, endured the beheading of their beautiful boy before their very eyes. Can any of us even begin to imagine pain on that scale?

And yet, at a very brief news conference Peter’s folks spoke of their need to “mourn, cry, forgive…YES FORGIVE, and heal.” (THEIR words, not mine).

At the very deepest, most painful stage of their grieving process, they nevertheless understood and acknowledged that at the right time – not too soon BTW – that part’s very important – forgiveness would have to be part of their healing.

With parents like that, is it hard to imagine what a beautiful son they raised?

Here’s the short video; and BTW, if the video won’t play in your email, click on the title of this post, which will bring you to my site. It will play from there:

 

Practice tip:Practice Tip Push Pin

Why did I choose to offer you such “off the charts” (and over the top) examples to make my point?

For some perspective.

Because, for my own life, after discovering and considering these, and other stories like them, I had to ask myself this question. I invite you to do the do the same:

“OK Michael…reality check time!! What is it exactly, that anyone has done to you, that even BEGINS to trump any of this stuff? And since it’s not even in the same universe, who (and what) is it, that you can’t forgive, and why not?”

Because back here in a “safer” (saner?) world where most of us live, a big part of the undeserved hurt, heartache, and sorrow that we have suffered and endured, likely happened in the realms of, work, school, societal interactions, and of course, family.

One of the best things about forgiveness work, is that it’s something you can do alone. The “forgivee” doesn’t have to ask you for it; nor, (until you are ready), do you even have to openly offer it to them, or tell them you have forgiven them. This is BY YOU…FOR YOU!

To close off, I pray you will not you believe that I am downplaying, or making light of what you personally have suffered, which I DEFINITELY AM NOT DOING; but I think I should end this post on a lighter note.

Anne Lamott, (one of my favorite writers), who is always right on point on the stuff of life, but often with a humorous edge, recently posted some words on this topic of forgiveness, on the occasion of her forthcoming birthday (61st I think). I hope she will make you smile. She did me:

“Families: hard, hard, hard, no matter how cherished and astonishing they may also be. At family gatherings where you suddenly feel homicidal or suicidal, remember that in half of all cases, it’s a miracle that this annoying person even lived. Earth is Forgiveness School. You might as well start at the dinner table. That way, you can do this work in comfortable pants.

“When Blake said that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love, he knew that your family would be an intimate part of this, even as you want to run screaming for your cute little life. But you are up to it. You can do it, Cinderellie. You will be amazed.”

Cartoon,Forgiveness Dog

 

Finally, dear reader, if you do decide to embark on this ”forgiveness project”; and if, after a while, you are looking for a way to figure out whether it’s working, and how you’re doing, I leave you with the advice of Ram Dass (Jeez, I wish I’d thought of this):

“Think you’re enlightened?? Go spend Thanksgiving with your family!”

Bless you dear reader, and please,

Be kind to yourself.

Metta,
Michael

“For all eternity,
  I forgive you.
 You forgive me.”

William Blake (to his wife)

About Michael Scott

Michael Scott is a life coach, author and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. After spending 35 years in business - coaching found him - and he's never looked back. Michael uses his coaching training and experience, in the service of his clients, as their constant and loving guide towards joyous, fulfilling lives which are genuinely their own. He lives with his dear wife in Sausalito, CA.

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