Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Forgiveness From Another Angle

[Note from Milo: "Forgiveness" is a common theme in the Christian tradition during Lent. A friend wrote to me saying that he was doing a series of sermons on the subject and asked for any insights I had. I confessed to him that what seemed such a simple concept to many, had always been difficult for me, and I thought much abused as to what Dietrich Bonhoeffer might have called "cheap grace." Connie and I talked about it one more time (we've talked about it many times before). After the conversation, she read me a few paragraphs in a book she is reading. I think there might actually be a breakthrough in my understanding of this issue. I encouraged her to write what she found to our friend and send me a copy for my reflection. When I read what she wrote, I asked her if I could share it with you. I'll be interested to know what you think. Thanks Connie!!!]

Milo tells me you are doing a series on forgiveness for Lent and I thought it interesting that some of the stuff I’m reading right now goes along with that. Have you heard of Caroline Myss? She is a medical intuitive. I’m reading her book, Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason. I’ve just started reading and have jumped into a deep pile of something that has everything to do with forgiveness. She states that healing can’t come without it and that neither healing or forgiveness can come from reasoning. The following quote nailed me!!

“Until you surrender the need to know why things happened to you as they did, you will hold on to your wounds with intense emotional fire. Your mind will want to heal, but your pride, anger, and emotions will remain caught up in wanting to make sure that the people who hurt you feel bad about what they’ve done. Or you may want to hurt them back. But rest assured, your emotional self will remain attached to the unfinished business rooted in feelings of abandonment and humiliation, of having lost something or been cheated. Your mind may do what’s required for healing and go through all the prescribed steps, but your heart will never fully participate in the healing process. In the end, forgiveness is an act of release, surrendering the need for an explanation. From that perspective, forgiveness has nothing to do with the individuals who harmed you. It is the act of accepting that there is a greater map of life, through which flow many rivers of events and relationships, all interconnected. Forgiveness is your release from the hell of wanting to know what cannot be known and from wanting to see others suffer because they have hurt you.”
She describes surrender as “fundamentally a mystical act of transformation, not a rational or intellectual one. It is a leap into the unknown that defies reason and requires every ounce of courage you have.” Also, “Giving up the need to know why things happen as they do requires a belief in some higher order or power that transcends rational thought….’some call it surrendering to God’….others surrendering to the Universe.”
She says the people she knows who found healing found it elemental and essential to give up the need to know why things happened as they did. What she clearly states is that because of our “reason,” our need to know belief system, that we think we can somehow answer the question, “what went wrong,” and that knowing will cut off the "bad juice", so to speak, so we will be healed. Our punishment and reward belief system in a nutshell, yes? Well apparently it can’t hurt to know the whys but it doesn’t guarantee healing. Like my surgeon said, “It might be a perfect surgery, but you may not get what you want.” I’m not quite sure whether that was wisdom on his part or a foot in the back door – guess I need to work on some forgiveness when it comes to him??

This is only the beginning in the book and I can see that it may take some trudging to get through it because like many people I know I have a tenacious grip on wanting to “know” and wanting “revenge.” But it seems this material has come to me in a timely way and I thought I might share some thoughts with you.
- Connie


Susan said...

Thanks Connie, and Milo for sharing. Your post comes to me only minutes after I had licked the envelope containing THE letter to my friend. I've been reasoning this broken relationship for nearly a year, at great expense to my heart, and with no apparent results.
The Lenten Season on the horizon gave me the nudge and your blog gave me an affirmation.

Jerry said...

Milo and Connie, I think you might find this Ted Talk relevant to this subject, even thought I think the word "forgiveness" is not mentioned.



Brene Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.

And here is about the speaker:

Brene Brown studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She is a sociologist, researcher, and storyteller.

It takes about 20 minutes.