I saw a movie recently on one of the cable channels called An Unfinished Life. It stars Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Lopez and Damian Lewis. Each character is forced to resolve issues of forgiveness. It could be forgiveness towards others, forgiveness towards forces of nature, and perhaps the most difficult; forgiveness of yourself.
This caused me to think about a situation that occurred in my life which opened some old wounds, and oozed much pain as I relived the events again. Several years ago I had a falling out with my brother. He made accusations against me and our parents that were totally false. I tried to sit with him and reason and discuss what had occurred but he refused to listen. He could only see things his way.
My parents, now in their 80’s, were very hurt by his actions. I think for the first time in my life I felt rage, something I never experienced before. I have been angry or mad, but never consumed by the wrath that I felt towards my brother for the hurt he created. Every time I thought of the conversations and the occurrences, I felt like I was reliving with graphic detail the horrors of the events that took place that broke up our family to the point where I was consumed by it.
I had to find a way to reconcile the way I felt towards my brother. It is very difficult to move forward when I felt I was stuck in the past, holding onto things that did not serve me. This conflicts every area in life: health, relationship, career, income and spiritual path.
The only way I could do this was to forgive him. I don’t know what he was going through that caused him to feel the way he did or what drove his actions. He may have had conflicts of his own he was attempting to work out and did so the only way he knew how.
I’m sure he had no idea of the times I thought of him and the feelings I experienced just as I could not possibly know how he was feeling. I believed if I could find a way to feel better I could make peace, and therefore move forward. I’ve learned this is a crucial ingredient of the process of forgiveness, the way you feel.
If you find yourself in similar circumstances, here’s what I suggest: if you have been wronged by someone or if you were the person who caused the hurt feelings, see if it is possible to sit down with them and have a discussion, and resolve whatever hostility you have towards each other. If this is not possible then go to a quiet place and have a conversation in your imagination and either forgive the person or ask for forgiveness.
It’s been several years since my brother and I have spoken, and I’m not sure if our conflict will ever be resolved. No matter what, I have forgiven him and moved on. I hope he has been able to open his heart and forgive me as well.