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Forgiveness:
It's Power to Heal

"There is no future without forgiveness," proclaims South Africa's Bishop Desmond Tutu. We imprison ourselves until we to want to begin – to learn – to forgive others, ourselves, and God. Everything from consuming rage to a dull brooding, from depression to sadness, from guilt to shame will afflict most of us at sometime. It imprisons us in the past and chains us to our violators because we will not or cannot forget. We find our sweetest dreams impossible because the pain of the past is too great. Opportunities, reputation, and abilities have been taken away, and for some, the integrity of our bodies and minds has been violated, and our self-image, scarred. We grieve. But does that have to be true for the rest of our lives? Is there no healing, no hope, no future?

Those who have lived the unspeakable know the answer. The answer is not in the violator but in us, in our own choice. If a life-giving God can touch and teach us, we can live again! There is a way. It begins with forgiveness, but does not end there.

Those who have robbed us may be the ones we most need to forgive. Or perhaps it is ourselves because we have allowed and accepted our own painful self-image: we are not worthy, adequate, good or smart or strong enough, and we are ashamed. For others, it is God we must forgive; it is God we hold responsible. Why? What is missing?

"Forgiveness may be the most critical key to healing," writes the counselor, Joan Borysenko. Yet we know that forgiving others is deeply related to forgiving ourselves. Forgiving ourselves may be the greatest challenge we will ever meet. We can be stunned to realize: If God fogives me, who am I to stand in God's way and insist I will not be forgiven?

Each of us will, after listening to lectures, use visualizing prayer and journaling to God and our deepest Self. Through these means and others, we will begin to understand and respect, perhaps even honor and joy in those who have hurt us. We may even begin to truly see and bless ourselves. Strangely, pain may even lead to blessing. The scar may be stronger than the original skin. In some cases, an enemy even becomes a friend. But it is a process. Wanting to learn to forgive is the beginning.

By reaching out or reaching in, through grace, we will begin to taste new life: to live it! If that happens, there will be a discovery. The discovery is that we will not just forgive, but we will imagine a new future and begin to walk toward it. Like children of the Exodus, we will not just let go of the familiar patterns and ways, but we will go on with God's dream in our hearts, and God's joy in our veins. We will be led by the One who loves us infinitely more than we love ourselves, who deeply and clearly perceives all that we can be in the Kingdom on earth and in Heaven.

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The power, the grace, to forgive, is God's power and grace, not the product of our wills. Forgiveness happens by wanting to forgive before we actually can. We pray for grace, then to see as God sees, and then to begin to understand. We receive the ability to let go, no more to INSIST on anything. We begin to bless the other in their need. We expect ourselves to change, and finally, for both ourselves and the forgiven one, we learn to ACCEPT our freedom and to rejoice!
- Brame
 
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