We become free by letting go of our limited human perceptions and asking God to help us see others with pure, forgiving love.
I hope the words I offer here will help you look beyond human error to see the true spirit of love within each and every person you encounter.
Sin (Missing the Mark) and Forgiveness (Seeing only Spirit)
This year, I’m amazed to realize how Jesus’ birth and life created a revolutionary understanding of two ideas that had long held many in fear: Sin and Forgiveness.
It turns out that forgiveness is not about pardoning an essentially “sinful person” while still holding on to their misdeeds. No! It’s about seeing the loving essence of each human being, regardless of how they’ve “done wrong” (or, as the Greek definition of sin states, “missed the mark.”)
If there’s one thing Jesus’ life demonstrated, it’s that even though the human body passes on, spiritual death is impossible, Our divine essence is not earth-bound; it’s made of the same God-stuff as Jesus’ spirit. So, let’s choose to live in the freedom of that truth.
What’s going on here on Earth is temporary and limited by our bodies; therefore, we’re not to condemn or judge other’s human frailties and misdeeds. Best that we follow Jesus’ teaching: to love one another as spiritual creations of a loving God.
How to Forgive
I’m not saying this is easy to do; but isn’t this a time of new beginnings? And isn’t it worth it to be at peace and in harmony with others?
- First I have to admit that my human thinking is limited; that there is so very much I can’t understand. For example, as humans, we just don’t comprehend the “why” of suffering and pain. In other words, there is a God, and I’m not it.
- Next, I ask a higher wisdom to guide me to a new interpretation of the behavior I’m labelling as “bad,” and I wait for a new perception to dawn on me. Every time my mind focuses on the person’s imperfections, I ask God to help me to see them as God would. In short, I’m asking to see only the person’s essential goodness, even if they aren’t currently operating from that place. (That’s one definition of forgiveness, according to A Course in Miracles.)
- Eventually, I’m able to look beyond the behavior and behold the person’s shining, pure spirit. We’ll know we’ve reached the freedom of forgiveness when we can no longer feel the “heat” of the old emotions, and we recall the past behavior as merely an event.
Now, does this mean I love to be around a person who has hurt me? Or that I have to put up with their unacceptable behavior? No. But, by refusing to harden my heart toward them, and by plugging into God’s wisdom, I’ll be led to the right words and actions for all involved.
And, guess what? Forgiveness is a “two-for!” As I forgive another, I also free my self from judgment and fear, thus receiving what I have given away.
One my favorite spiritual teachers, Richard Rohr, recently wrote, “Scholars have said two-thirds of the teaching of Jesus is, in one form or another, about forgiveness. Forgiveness is simply the religious word for letting go.” Read more from Rohr below; awesome!
Richard Rohr on Forgiveness & Letting Go
Rohr writes, “if you do not transform your pain, you will most assuredly transmit it. Healthy religion on the practical level tells us what to do with our pain—because we will have pain. We can’t avoid it; it’s part of life.”
“If we’re not trained in letting go of it, transforming it, turning crucifixion into resurrection (so to speak), we’ll hand it off to our family, to our children, to our neighborhood, to our nation.
“Letting go helps us fall into a deeper and broader level at which we can always say, ‘It’s okay, it’s all right.’ We know what lasts. We know who we are. And we know we do not want to pass our pain on to our children or the next generation. We want to somehow pass on life.
“This means that the real life has started now. It’s Heaven all the way to Heaven; and it’s Hell all the way to Hell.”
We [can be] “in Heaven now by falling, by letting go, and by trusting and surrendering to this deeper, broader, and better reality that is already available to us.”
We [can be] “in Hell now by wrapping ourselves around our hurts, by over-identifying with and attaching ourselves to our fears, so much so that they become our very identity.
Any chosen state of victimhood is an utter dead end. Once you make that your narrative, it never stops gathering evidence about how you have been wronged by life, by others, and even by God.”
Which Do You Choose: Heaven or Hell?
We CAN choose to let go of past resentments, fears, and judgments so we can see the truth: that every person here is a loving child of God–regardless of whether they’re currently demonstrating that truth. Choose love anyway; focus on strengths rather than faults. You’ll be amazed by the freedom of letting go with forgiveness.
This is the season to make a revolutionary flip in how we think about others: Can we look past their flawed human behavior to the spirit within? Can we do the same for ourselves? Let’s hope so, because happiness depends on it!
Gigi Langer has been sober 34 years, and holds a PhD in Psychological Studies in Education from Stanford University. Formerly crowned the “Queen of Worry,” Gigi resigned her post many years ago and now lives happily in Florida with her husband, Peter and her cat, Murphy.