I met with my friend recently for a brunch experience. I love food and coffee (especially when I’m not doing the cooking….I know this is not fashionable but I’ve chopped and diced and spliced for 7, now 6, plus every night for too long) But what I received today was far more than a taste sensation and great coffee, as we shared deeply on events and suffering we had not shared before. It never ceases to amaze me the capacity of the soul to survive trauma and to come out shining brightly, like the moon through a storm…it too, despite adverse events manages to remain a guide for boats and people even through the darkest of nights. She is like this. She is a quiet unassuming guide. She is a mentor and a teacher and all this without realizing it.
What she taught me about today was forgiveness. I found myself telling her of the time I experienced bullying in the workforce, my reaction and the final outcome…(It was fresh because I had only learned three days ago that the bully was finally asked to leave, after 99% of staff under her had left, noting that she was the reason….she was also told never to manage again….bad luck it took the system 3 years to acknowledge what I fought so hard to tell them 3 years ago) but I digress. The point of this post, is to discuss the effect of finding out three days ago that she had finally been dismissed and the things it brought to the surface, things I thought I was over. My friend suggested that I hadn’t forgiven and she was correct in her assertion. She discussed how she had forgiven someone who had committed an act of abuse in her life.
As I listened and we discussed forgiveness, I learned some things and had to face some truths:
- As I said, I realized I had not forgiven the woman, not even realized I should because she was no longer of any significance in my life. I had moved on from the whole episode.
- The events still had a hold on me even though I would never have believed that. I never thought of her anymore or the job I left behind. I left because I refused to work under such warped power and control because I’ve come too far in life to stay present to abuse of power and sadly because I could afford to leave, where others could not because they needed the income. Their powerlessness made me very angry and so I decided that before I left I needed to fight for others who couldn’t afford to leave.
- So again, I realized after the conversation on Sunday that it was not behind me because I felt pleasure that she had been dismissed and I experienced vindication, that everything I’d predicted, had in fact occurred. Not too nice, I know and even as I write this I can see and feel my anger again…..so what to do because these situations are tests on how far we have come and clearly I have a weakness in letting go when I have witnessed others being harmed by a bully, not to mention the effect it had on me.
I experienced anger that so many people had had to leave jobs they loved because of her need for control and opposition. She ruled without heart and with a meanness of spirit that was shocking. Whatever request she received, she went on to do the exact opposite of what the staff member had asked her. For example, one staff had asked her not to move her any further west, than the office she was currently in (they had offices all over Sydney)as she had an ill husband who was 20 years her senior…within two weeks she was placed further away from home and for no reason other than the manager wanting to control and hurt people. But here’s the point, that sickness is hers and it grows when we allow ourselves to be drawn into the dysfunctional web. It is fine to take action and remove oneself. It was fine for me to fight for others, thus precipitating my need to leave. It is fine to recognize and name the abuse but when one begins to be affected and can’t let go outside of taking those actions, when the poison gets in, then you need to re-evaluate. Letting go is to notice the emotions that arise and NOT attach, not react emotionally because by reacting emotionally one is disempowered and caught in their web. This is what they want. With abusers, better to leave the poison with them and move on peacefully and without carrying emotional baggage. This is how terrible events in history have perpetrated more horrible events because hatred remains and revenge becomes the name of the game and then the abuser wins again because further people are harmed.
So my friend pointed out that I needed to forgive this person and she was correct. This was the way to free myself of any connection to her and any unwanted residual emotional reaction. Because this is true freedom and peace, not being buffeted by every ill wind that blows. It’s holding your own in a storm. It’s walking on waves towards God, trusting in God, despite the storm around you and letting the person be. As I said, this does not mean you take no action, what it means is that you take action from a heart where no anger and revenge exists.
So here and now I make a decision to forgive her and get free. I put myself through a little exercise that my friend sent me and which she had done in the past for herself. It was a series of statements and then to basically hand the person over to God’s healing.
I guess we need to remember that we all need forgiveness at times in our life. We may not be abusive but we all do wrong and sometimes to those we most love, it’s part of our brokeness, our humanity. So forgiving another is to forgive yourself and sit humbly in the presence of your own failures. It is part of being human. Who said to err is Human, to forgive Divine? I think in forgiving we do touch base with our own divinity, our God centred being. I think it’s also important to note that this does not mean we forget…we cannot and at some level that would be stupid as someone seriously harmed and abused by another needs to separate and protect themself from that harm. This is a very separate thing from forgiving, which is an act of freeing yourself from the harming energies, thoughts, emotions emanating from the wounds. Forgiving is also a process and can take time.
With what is happening in the world right now, over the offensive film and the radical reaction by extremist Muslims, it is more important than ever to be mindful of reactions and learning to let go and not be on the hook to anyone who wants to pull your strings. Muslims had the right to feel affronted but they did not have the right to murder and create havok. The many wonderful Muslims who have spoken out against this radical reaction, demonstrate that they understand the need to be mindful in your reactions and to pray for those who harm you.
Quotes on Forgiveness:
Stephanie Dowrick In Forgiveness and other Acts of Love says:
“Simply contemplating the act of forgiveness may seem to bring us a great deal closer to a person, to events, or to our own most vulnerable feelings, than we want to be. Holding onto our anger, outrage or fantasies of revenge may be immensely harmful for our physical and emotional well-being. But we do it because we believe it keeps us separate-and safe. Or we do because we believe we owe it to someone else who has been wronged.
Yet it is one of life’s most terrible ironies that betrayal can be as connective as love. It can fill the mind, and colour all your senses. It can keep you tied to that person or those vents as tightly as if you were bound, back to back, or worse, heart to heart. The person you want to think of least may become the person you think of constantly.” p.327
“When matters are life-shakingly serious-they can rarely be forgiven either directly or conclusively. Such events may take most of a lifetime to assimilate and most of a lifetime to forgive” P330
Jesus about his torturers and killers:
“Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
From the Qur’an
Hold to forgiveness, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant. (Qur’an, 7: 199)
In another verse Allah commands: “… They should rather pardon and overlook. Would you not love Allah to forgive you? Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 24:22)
By the way, to finish on a happy note, brunch was sumptuous pancakes with a mixed berry compote and cinnamon cream (which I substituted with yoghurt due to lactose intolerance) and wonderful coffee. Oh and by the way, I’m about to go and get dressed for an Indian meal with two other couples, tonight. MMM It’s good to put a close to winter with one more delicious curry sensation. The dependants have been told to fend for themselves…whereupon, one told me he was working, another told me she too was going out, the third is still at work and the fourth put his hand out for money to get takeaway, with a big smile on his face and a little cry about how much study he had to do. Dream on my boy!!!!!
Thanks again for visiting and I wish you all well. I would love to hear your thoughts on this very difficult topic. Regards Leanne