"Learning to forgive myself for being human, suddenly I could learn and grow."
When someone wrongs you, should you forgive them?
For the first half of my life, I would have said, yes. That's because I was raised in the Christian religion with its teachings about forgiveness. What I understood was that we are to forgive 70x7, which was a metaphor for always. We should always forgive anyonefor anything. Jesus even said about those who crucfied him, "Father forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing." It's quite possible that this interpretation was not the original intent, but nevertheless, it's what I understood and clumsily tried to practice.
Forgiveness as seen through the Lens of Mercy.
In the second half of my life, I started exploring outside of the Christian framework and began studying other thought, especially Judaism. What I found out is that there was no such obligationto always forgive everyone for everything. There are many more subtleties and gradations of wrongs and reparations. It's not blanket forgiveness. It's precise and proportionate.
Forgiveness as seen through the Lens of Justice.
[I realize that these are gross generalizations, as there are many more complexities in both of these religions than I'm prepared to talk about in this article. :-)]
So, I was thinking about Sarah's episode and how she, her husband, and infant twins were severely wronged by an unapologetic sociopath. She couldn't just give this woman a mercy pass. The crime was beyond her capacity for compassion.
Grappling with shock, anger, and the desire for fairness (which she didn't get in the legal system), she had the Lens of Justice fully focused.
Through courageous inner spiritual work, Sarah came to something astounding — beyond the Lenses of Mercy and Justice.
She was able to forgive this person. Not because she was human and flawed (Mercy). Not because she was remorseful. She wasn't (Justice).
She found forgiveness as seen through the Lens of Wisdom.
Wisdom includes all of it; Mercy AND Justice. It's an integration and a transcendence beyond the binary either/or way of seeing things.
In her spiritual journey, Sarah was able to transcend this realm where we all generally live. She could see from a higher vantage point which included all of reality; evil, good, the grey in between. When she accepted this existence of reality, she was able to find forgiveness. In fact she said that she became forgiveness and forgiveness only knows how to forgive.
But what about forgiveness towards herself?
Here she was this incredible 2-time-Olympic-medalist-ice-hockey-goalie, whose main job is to protect the net. She was excellent at being vigilant for any kind of threat. So, when this horrific crime went on undetected, she had the worst guilt. How could she not have known? She said, "Every mom knows how to protect their young and I failed."
While she's not out there trying to intentionally harm people, she does have a part — she calls her Human — that falls short of her ideals. And that part needed to be reconciled in order to move forward in a healthy way.
She understood that her Human isn't all of who she is. She is also a Soul which is expansive and joyous and wise.
Sarah was able to extend forgiveness toward her Human from that Soulful Lens of Wisdom.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it! I'm in awe.