A friend of mine told me that she read somewhere that the original Sanskrit meaning of forgiveness is "to untie". I've not been able to confirm this, but I like it.
People often ask me, "How can I possibly forgive my (rapist, abuser, ex-wife, etc.)? Are you saying I should let them off the hook after what they did to me?"
Letting Yourself Off the Hook
When I hear these words, I offer the following advice: It is you that is being let off the hook! Imagine the person you cannot forgive as someone who once held a fishing pole. They've set down the pole and gone on to other things, perhaps even hurting others. In the meantime, you are still floundering in the murky waters of the past, snagged on their hook.
As long as you are spending precious energy resenting, hating, and being angry, you will be unable to swim freely. What I am asking you to do it is to gently remove the hook that keeps you tangled in the past.
Letting Go of the Need to Control
Think of forgiveness as letting go and not having to be responsible for the other person's accountability. I realize that means releasing the control you may feel this gives you over the person or situation, however, it is you that is truly being controlled by the refusal to let go.
A very wise friend of mine (whom I've never met since she is a light that twinkles on the other end of the Internet somewhere) put it like this: Think of your abuser as a horse who is stepping on your foot. You stand there screaming in pain and ranting at the horse. Why not lift the horse's leg up and take it off your foot? In that way your foot can begin to heal and you can let the horse move away from you.
Forgiveness is a Way of Setting Yourself Free
Forgiveness is not an easy thing for a lot of us. I believe this is because we associate forgiveness with allowing another to "get away with" whatever it is that he or she has done. If someone has done you harm, they will be accountable for their actions with or without your anguish.
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However seen in a new light, forgiveness can be a way of setting yourself free.
©1999 Whole Heart Publications
About The Author
Eldonna Bouton has published inspirational nonfiction as well as essays, humor and fiction. She is currently working on a novel and plans to write a sequel to this book titled "Loose Ends: Letters from the Heart", based upon readers responses to the exercises outlined in the workbook.
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