“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” So said author Marianne Williamson. Many of us have experienced this truth.
In our household, we often discover a bit of hard, crusty bread that managed to sink into some abyss in the pantry. I find my own process of forgiveness to be much like finding bits of hard, crusty remains of a loaf of old resentments I thought I had forgiven. But no! I had hung on to some part that still smoldered, like remnants of a fire that cooled but never went out entirely.
Dr. Fred Luskin, director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, offers this suggestion for dealing with those difficult emotions that we tend to perpetuate by keeping them tucked in some corner of our hearts, where we can easily retrieve them to ruminate yet again on the injustice of it all:
“Picture the crowded screen in front of a harried air traffic controller. Picture the chaos in the room and the jumble of planes on the screen. Now imagine that your unresolved grievances are the planes on that screen that have been circling for days and weeks on end. Most of the other planes have landed, but your unresolved grievances continue to take up precious air space, draining resources that may be needed in an emergency. Having them on the screen forces you to work harder and increases the chance for accidents. The grievance planes become a source of stress and burnout is often the result.”
Forgiveness is the peace you learn to feel, Dr. Luskin says, when you allow these circling planes to land.
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate
Hope’s Café Bonus: (From my archive of therapy tools)
An Exercise for Dissolving Old Resentments: Sit quietly, close your eyes and allow your mind and body to relax. Then imagine yourself sitting in a darkened theater and in front of you is a small stage. On that stage place the person you resent most, past or present, living or dead. When you see this person clearly, visualize good things happening to this person. Things that would be meaningful to them. See them smiling and happy. Hold this image for a few minutes then let it fade away. As they leave the stage, put yourself up there. See good things happening to you. See yourself smiling and happy. Imagine the theater being brighter yourself feeling lighter and radiating peace and joy. Be aware that the abundance of the universe is available for all.