Renewal Is Possible: True Forgiveness Is A Clean Slate

Renewal Is Possible: True Forgiveness Is A Clean Slate
Image by Rogier Hoekstra

Ben Cohen and Shoshana Hadad received a rude awakening when the State of Israel told them their marriage was not legal because Shoshana's ancestor married a peasant -- in 580 B.C. That's a 2500 year grudge! (And you thought the two weeks your cousin Ginnie hasn't spoken to you was a long time!)

Just as the Cohens were dealing with rabbinical karma, the Eagles came out with a hit song called Get Over It, zeroing in on how we blame the present on the past, at the expense of the life and love that is available now. We are here to celebrate our relationships, not cremate them.

True Forgiveness Is A Clean Slate

I saw a wonderfully entertaining movie which demonstrates how true forgiveness is accomplished. In Clean Slate, Dana Carvey portrays a man with an unusual type of amnesia: when he goes to sleep each night, he forgets everything that happened to him before that day. The fact that he is a private eye about to testify about a murder he witnessed, sets up a hilarious series of plot twists.

The key line of the movie comes when a woman who had once manipulated Dana, asks him, "Can you ever forgive me for what I did to you last week?" In an utterly childlike way, Carvey shrugs his shoulders and answers, "Sure!" Of course he can -- he doesn't have the slightest clue what she did to him! As far as he is concerned, nothing ever happened. She was the one who was carrying the guilt; his relationship with her was as new as the current day.

A Course in Miracles tells us that at any moment we are capable of starting over; we can create a new beginning by selectively forgetting what we don't wish to carry into now. We are not bound by our past, unless we choose to lug old baggage with us.

Renewal Is Possible

Springtime is a time of resurrection. That which seemed to be lifeless or hopeless miraculously comes to life. Nature, we find, was not dead; it was just sleeping. So it is with relationships we have written off as unhealable or lost. They were not dead -- they were just sleeping.

Renewal is possible because, as divine beings, we are not bound by past deeds; grace always supersedes karma, if we are willing to let it. We are not prisoners of earlier acts; we are limited only by what we think in the current moment. Change your mind about your past, and you nullify its effects instantly.

I learned of a deeply inspiring example of grace. A young and beautiful model had been viciously attacked by a man who was angry at her. The man hired several thugs to slash her face and ruin her beauty and career. I saw heart-rending photographs of the woman after her attack; three long hideous scars ran the length of both cheeks and her forehead; hundred of stitches had been required to put her face back together. A Venus had been turned into a Frankenstein.

But that is not the end of the story. When New York philanthropist Milton Petrie read the woman's story and saw her photos in a newspaper, he was moved by her plight. A multimillionaire, Milton made scanned the daily news to find people in dire straits, and assisted them to get their lives back together. Milton called the model and told her that he would give her twenty thousand dollars a year, for the rest of her life. Needless to say, she was thrilled to find such love and comfort in the wake of her anguish.

The model had numerous surgeries, which restored her skin and beauty to near-perfection. As I watched her being interviewed on television, I noticed an additional glow not obvious in her earlier model photos. She had been the recipient of grace, and no one whose life is made new after it seems to be destroyed can doubt that the reality and presence of a higher power.

I love this story because it demonstrates that even the most heinous experiences can be undone by the power of love. Of course, not everyone who is hurt experiences redemption as quickly and dramatically as Donna. But I sincerely believe that somehow, somewhere, all hurts are dissolved, and all disfigurement corrected. Milton Petrie gave Donna a clean slate.

Letting Go of Grudges Against Ourselves and Others

We can turn to a higher power to ask for grace, which we are sure to receive. In our own lives we can act on behalf of that higher power and clean the slate for ourselves and others. We can do it by letting go of grudges against others, and especially against ourselves. If others choose not to forgive us, we still have the power to release ourselves.

We too are not subject to limits placed upon us by a rabbi two millennia earlier. We are subject only to the law of kindness and compassion. There is a higher love, a higher law, a higher power available to us, and we shall receive as we open to it.

Book by this author:

Rising in Love: Opening Your Heart in All Your Relationships
by Alan Cohen.

Rising in LoveThe saga of the heart's journey from loneliness to celebration, from empty dark caverns to waterfalls of triumphant gratitude.

Info/Order this book

More books by this Author

About The Author

Alan CohenAlan Cohen is the bestselling author of A Course in Miracles Made Easy and of the newly-released Spirit Means Business. Join Alan and musician Karen Drucker in Hawaii, December 1-6, for an extraordinary retreat, “A Course in Miracles: the Easy Path.” For more information about this program, Alan’s Holistic Life Coach Training beginning January 1, his books and videos, free daily inspirational quotes, online courses, and weekly radio show, visit

Video/Interview with Alan Cohen: Forgiveness


follow InnerSelf on


 Get The Latest By Email