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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

THOUGHTS: Experiencing Forgiveness

I have done some shitty things in my life.

Seriously, I know it's odd to start a blog like this, but let's be honest with each other. I've surfed the internet while on the clock at work. I've petended to be sleeping to avoided talking to someone. When I was in eighth grade, I watched two of my friends break into a house and didn't say anything about it. I once tried to fake a dislocated shoulder for sympathy. I killed a duck once with a rock.

I've lied. I've stolen. I've blown off really good friends, and forced myself into the lives of others. I've taken advantage of people.

Every once in a while, after a big come-to-Jesus with myself or somebody else, after the following days/weeks/months/years/decades even of awkward silence or weirdness, something will come out of the woodwork and remind me of what a selfish bastard I've been... and how far I've come. I've used the word "forgiveness" liberally in the past, usually to describe how someone's forgiven me, and how that's a huge and inspiring thing... for a while. I rarely feel the need to forgive others as I eventually and self-depracatingly figure that karma owes me a kick in the butt, that they were probably decent before we got involved in whatever capacity.

The part nature of the word "forgiveness", the real essence of it, is something that continued to elude me for the longest time, until recently, when I was reading an article called "A Pattern So Vast" by Kate Tucker, the Associate Minister of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Minneapolis. In this article, she talks about forgivness, and the healing power of being able to forgive one's SELF. I think for some, it's too easy and not as deeply considered as it has to be. For the dark places some people go, a simple self-forgiving usually translates into justification, and the pattern continues.

However, I was thinking about the concept. I mean, REALLY trying to wrap my head around the idea that the only person who needs your forgiveness is yourself, and, conversely, you're the only person you need it from. I looked up after reading this article and saw this Buddhist quotation I had put up on the board for my wife and I to read every once in a while. "You, yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."... and forgiveness.

I've gotten on my soap box about how God (or whatever you choose to call the light behind all things) practices infinite forgiveness with all of us, God's children. Whether we stole a candy bar once when we were six or murdered millions of Jewish people when we were competent adults, God would see whatever good there is in us all, celebrate that, and wrap us in that warm and secure love for eternity. That's forgiveness.

But that's forgiveness from God. That's easy to talk about, and almost as easy to believe when you're here in a very real earth, in a time where there are many challenges. And even with an unwavering belief in this, it's still hard to find the courage or justification or even, simply, the reasons to forgive yourself.

Then, as if a warm sip of coffee warmed my stomach after hours in the cold, something hit me. I remembered three words I had written in a phrase below the quotation on the dry-erase board in our kitchen. Three words that the main character in Robert Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land" says so often in the book:

"Thou art God."

I felt as if somebody was in the room saying it to me, and for the first time, I believed it.  Not in the sense that I'm God as I believe it. I believed it in the sense that I finally realized that, having an essense of God within me, as we all do, I had the power to forgive myself.

I felt more content than I have in a long time. It was a beautiful moment.

I hope, if you're reading this, that you know you're loved. Loved by yourself. Truly loved. This person that loves you, when they forgive you, it's the key to unlocking the happiness you never thought attainable before.

Thou art God.

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