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Radical Forgiveness

Posted by Roberta Grimes • February 02, 2015 • 10 Comments
Afterlife Research, Human Nature, Jesus

Jesus’s disciple asked him, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he MM Quotesins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (MT 18:21-23) No matter how many times someone does you wrong, you are meant to forgive without a thought. Every time.

I was reminded to talk about forgiveness by an article in the current Atlantic which cites the psychological and even the physical health benefits to be expected from forgiving. What struck me when I read what was an excellent article on a topic essential to human wellbeing was that it still did not go far enough. So let’s summarize what the dead tell us is the reason why we are born at all. Again, I think Jesus says it best:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (MT 22:37-40)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (MT 5:43-48)

Human life is a school in which we are meant to learn to love the way God Mandelaloves: universally and completely. That’s it! And that’s all. Learning to love is why we live in families, why we are crowded enough to have to deal with others, why some of those we deal with do us wrong, and why bad things happen to good people. Every occurrence in your life is either love or a call for love. So no matter the question, love is always the answer.

Forgiving the big and little bruises that come from human interactions is an essential precursor to our learning to love perfectly. Holding grudges against family or friends gets in the way of our loving them, so even in happy family situations the need to forgive keeps coming up. This is “intimate forgiveness,” the simple overlooking of negative interactions with the people we love. And it is basic stuff! It’s kindergarten. The kind of forgiveness that learning to love perfectly requires of us is quite a bit harder.

Both Jesus and the dead who communicate with us urge us to focus on what we might call “radical forgiveness,” which means forgiving every wrong ever done by anyone, no matter how life-changing it might be, as if it never happened at all.

Think about that!

We are meant to learn automatic, reflexive, universal, and complete forgiveness.

Here are some important facts about the process of radical forgiveness:

  • Forgiveness is not approval. If someone harms you or harms someone you love, immediate forgiveness is essential. You needn’t (and you likely shouldn’t) try to approve of whatever wrong was done.
  • You don’t have to voice your forgiveness to the offender. In family situations it may be important that you tell your sister or your dad that you forgive, but in most other situations it is fine (and much easier) to forgive privately and move on.
  • Forgiveness is for you alone. Except within families, the wrongdoer likely doesn’t care whether or not you forgive, so forgiveness is the gift that you give to yourself. And what a gift it is! As you learn to do it better, you will find that radical forgiveness makes you feel free and glorious.
  • Forgiveness becomes ever easier. When I first came to understand the importance of forgiving every wrong, I was an Olympics-level holder of grudges. To be alive was to keep score! At last, three decades later, I have mastered automatic forgiveness. The difference is like setting down a hundred pounds of unnecessary garbage so you can dance your way through life.
  • There is no wrong that cannot be forgiven. When you treat forgiveness as an exercise that is essential to your spiritual health, you will find that there is not much difference between a stubbed toe and a murder from the perspective of forgiving every wrong.

Human minds are eternal! When measured against forever, these unpleasant interactions with others on earth really amount to precisely nothing.

MLKSo, how do we manage radical forgiveness? The easiest way feels like a physical process. What I did in the beginning was to package the wrong in my mind, gather it all up and wrap it together. Then I would think, “I forgive and release!” and let it go. I let it go physically: I pushed it away. Sometimes the darned thing would come back so I would have to go through the process again, but now my forgiveness is so automatic that I seldom give it a thought. Outrage turns out to be a lot like anger. If you court it and really let yourself feel it, you are going to feel a lot more of it; but if you refuse to give it mind-space, soon it doesn’t even get started. You still notice the wrong, and you recall how that sort of thing used to really wreck your day, but now it doesn’t bother you at all.

Learning automatic forgiveness is the foundation of our spiritual growth. It is essential to our learning all the wonders of perfect love. And it makes your life easier. And so much happier!

 

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/11218383604/”>symphony of love</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/11230538153/”>symphony of love</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/15822391350/”>symphony of love</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

Roberta Grimes

Roberta Grimes is an internationally recognized expert on death and the afterlife. Learn More

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10 thoughts on “Radical Forgiveness

  1. Thank you so much for this most insightful article on forgiveness! I heard you on a Blog-Talk radio show last Mon. With professor Jamela Franklin, and immediately got your books. I just finished reading ” The Fun of Dying”. What a life-changing perspective that was! Thank you again for your passion to share this invaluable information.

    1. I’m so glad to be of help to you, Alice! Reaching out to you has been the reason I have done so much guesting on radio shows. And I podcast weekly on webtalkradio.net on these topics, which you also might find helpful. If you ever have questions, you can reach me through the little envelope below. It’s easy to have a passion for sharing the truth when it turns out to be so wonderful!

  2. This is beautiful, Roberta. It’s one of our greatest challenges, isn’t it? (Not to mention forgiving ourselves!) I love how you’ve made it so very clear. Thank you!

    1. You bring up a great point, Joan! I thought about mentioning self-forgiveness, but the post was already rather long and self-forgiveness is really a whole nother topic that deserves its own blog post. I’ll do that soon, because you’re right: it is extremely important! Given the emphasis that is placed on self-forgiveness right after our deaths, it may be the single most important spiritual lesson that we ever will learn. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  3. I know this to be true Roberta. I had my spiritual awakening after I had a forgiveness meltdown, my therapist called ‘catharsisis’ I was carrying a heavy weight of hate and resentment around my neck. A spiritual healer was very helpful in this process. Thank you for sending out this important message.
    Jane

    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Jane! As you point out, to carry a burden of anger and resentment and hatred presents an absolute block to the spiritual growth that everyone craves, and that is the whole point of our being here. Big hug, dear friend!

  4. Thank you. It seems it can never be said enough. I need to be reminded to forgive everyday. I sure hope I can make it as far as you have one day. That is my goal.

    1. Oh dear Renee, thank you for reading and commenting! For me, the key to making spiritual progress was finally really knowing for certain that our minds are eternal. Once I got that, nothing except loving others really mattered anymore… and from then on, it was amazing how easy it became to forgive! Godspeed on your journey, dear, and if I can help, you know that I’m here for you – simply email me through this website. Learning how to better love other people makes you the happiest that you can be!

  5. I am so glad to have discovered you! They say that the teacher will arrive when the student is ready to learn. I’ve struggled with forgiveness my entire life and am so weary of the burden of holding ill-will against people, and myself. It’s time to lay that burden down and be free. Thank you for your timely message of the importance of love and forgiveness.

    1. I’m so glad to be of service to you, dear Kelly! If you have any questions or if you simply want to talk, please email me through this website. And please know this: once you begin to learn radical forgiveness, it quickly becomes easier and easier and more and more joyous – and it makes you happy!!

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