By Rev. Spencer Rouse
The concepts of forgiveness and acceptance are often misunderstood. In Western culture, we have grown up with instructions on these acts from Jesus in Matthew 39-40:
“Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.”
It is easy for us to look at this approach as a sign of weakness, and many times when we follow the admonition from this Bible passage we are accused of lacking courage. However, a more accurate way to interpret this passage is to look at it from the perspective of not entering into argument or violence when we are wronged—to disassociate our feelings from our material possessions and to stop the flow of violence with peace.
When someone grievously offends us, we are hurt; we feel angry; and we want to stand up for ourselves. It’s likely because of the training we received at an early age that teaches us to play nice; say we’re sorry; and then make up. But we often end up confused by doing this and feeling wrong, whatever reaction we have. What’s a person to do?
Some people cling to the idea that to forgive is to excuse bad behavior, but that interpretation does not help us. It is important to acknowledge to ourselves when we are offended and not try to stuff it down and cover it with what we deem more appropriate feelings. Unresolved minor offenses can linger within and create a disharmony that never seems to clear. And people often harbor a corrosive anger around larger offenses that have not been reconciled.
Acknowledge that an offense has occurred and that it has hurt you. Acknowledge the pain without letting that pain define you. It is important to acknowledge it audibly to a trusted confidante. Fred Luskin, a pioneer in the science and practice of forgiveness says:
The simple definition of forgiveness is the ability to make peace with the word “no.” I didn’t get something I wanted. I got “no.” I wanted my partner to be faithful; they weren’t faithful. I got “no.” I wanted somebody to tell the truth; they told a lie. I got “no.” I wanted to be loved as a child; I wasn’t loved in a way that I felt good about. I got “no.” The essence of forgiveness is being resilient when things don’t go the way you want—to be at peace with “no,” be at peace with what is, be at peace with the vulnerability inherent in human life. Then you have to move forward and live your life without prejudice.
Forgiveness is something you do for yourself.
Holding grudges and allowing them to run rampant through your mind can damage your immune system, spike your blood pressure, and damage your personality. Forgiveness is recognizing that an offense has occurred, choosing to admit the hurt, accepting it as real, then releasing the negative feelings you carry because of it. You do not ever have to excuse bad behavior to forgive bad behavior. Forgiveness is the act of releasing the negative emotion surrounding it. Moreover, you do not ever have to associate with the person who offended you, although showing kindness can be a way of healing damaged relationships. In the end, forgiveness is achieving peace.
The Disgruntled Neighbor
Here’s a story of how I put this wisdom into action:
A few years ago, a neighbor in my building had a strong disagreement with my former housekeeper. She would park in his assigned parking space if she thought he was at work—no small offense in our crowded parking lot. Sometimes he would come home early and be without his parking space. I was not aware that this had happened several times, and he had confronted her about it. One day he knocked on my door and demanded that she move her car. He was raging, which surprised me as this was the first I had heard of it.
She heard him and was in a froth of belligerence by the time she reached the front door. He screamed at her. She pulled her 4-foot-11-inch body fully into his space, and I stepped between them to prevent a physical confrontation. I spoke calmly with him as she moved her car, even though he was rude to me in the beginning. He calmed down, but left for his condo in a huff, just as she was walking past him. He called her a name, but I was able to pull her into my condo before she lunged for him.
The story does not end there. The next morning, he showed me where his new car had been keyed and told me he knew SHE did it, and I was responsible for her actions. I was not so certain. It is easy for people to come into our parking lot from the main street, and there had been a recent incident of hubcaps being stolen. Besides, she was coming down with strep throat and had left early to pick up some medicine for her son who was home sick in another town. She had little gas in the car and just enough money to buy the medicine.
He later presented me with a bill for more than $1,000, and told me that I was legally responsible for it. I quietly listened to him rage again and then took the bill from him to inspect. After double checking my actual responsibility in the matter, I chose not to pay any part of the bill. He knocked on my door several times that month, demanding payment. I forced myself to remain calm, but firm.
One Sunday, I heard him screaming at my door. «I know you’re in there, and I am not going away until you pay this bill!» I promptly went into my bedroom, shut the door, and took a nap away from the noise.
I did not want to involve the Sheriff, but that would be my next step—if necessary. I asked Spirit to intervene for the highest good of all of us; he was not there when I woke from my nap. Later in the week, he left me a note apologizing and telling me that he repaired the car. When I saw him a few days later, he was mild-mannered and wanted to know if we could be friends, saying that what SHE had done was not my fault. By this time, my intuition was telling me that she actually had managed to come back during the night to commit the vandalism, sick or not. Wisely, the housekeeper chose not to work in this area any longer, and peace reigned in our building once more.
By keeping calm, not adding fuel to my neighbor’s raging fire, and calling upon spirit to help—but not condoning his bullying behavior by paying for the repairs—the universe was able to right the balance of energy around this situation and return harmony to our corner of the condo complex. We all have the opportunity to take the high road when it comes to practicing forgiveness and acceptance, and when we open the door to let the Higher Guidance help, it’s easier to release negative energy patterns, such as resentments and grudges, and pave the way for a brighter future.
Rev. Spencer Rouse has been a psychic medium, teacher, counselor, writer and healer for more than 25 years. She recently completed her Level 1 and 2 studies of Acoustic Sound, Color, and Body Movement with Fabien Maman (Father of Vibrational Sound Therapy) at the Tama-do Academy in Malibu, and Switzerland. Spencer teaches “Soul to Soul” classes in Sarasota, FL, which focus on how to tune into the true self through the tools of sound, color, and ancient teachings. She also will be presenting an interactive class focused on color, sound and Chi in relation to healing this winter. For more information visit www.psychicspencer.com, email PsychicSpencer@yahoo.com or call 941-706-1005.