This coming Sunday, April 29, Rev. Brian and Rev. Kristen launch a new 6-week Sunday talk series, under the banner of “The Courage To Soar,” which is the theme for the second quarter of the UCOH Community’s year-long spiritual journey, “The Courage To Imagine.” As previously covered in the UCOH blog, the intention behind the year-long journey is to have the “courage” to use the “power of imagination” in ways that help us overcome limiting beliefs and develop our Christ potential. This week’s blog article takes a look at the role imagination plays in helping us to soar to new heights on the wings of forgiveness.
Without Forgiveness, Peace Is Impossible
Forgiveness is an essential life skill to develop. In some respects, it is the most important life skill you could ever attain. That is, if peace is your personal goal. If personal peace is not your goal, then you are free to stop reading right now, and go on about your life. You are always free to withhold forgiveness. Forgiveness is always your choice, and no one, not even God, can ever make you forgive what you are unwilling to forgive.
However, if you forgive at all, it will always be by your choice. Forgiveness is not automatic, nor is it accidental. Forgiveness cannot be forced upon you, even if it is good for you, and in your own best interests. It does not work that way. Forgiveness can only happen when you become willing to forgive. Until you are, personal peace, even world peace, is impossible.
Forgiveness Is An Act of Self Love
Ultimately, forgiveness is an act of self love. If, as A Course In Miracles teaches, we are always choosing between love and fear, then forgiveness is the mediator between those choices. Withhold forgiveness, and we side with fear. Forgive, and we choose to love instead. Your personal peace is utterly dependent on your willingness to forgive, which is the same as saying, your willingness to love unconditionally. You do not have to believe you are able to forgive. You don’t even need to know how forgiveness works. You merely have to be willing to forgive.
If you are unwilling to forgive, then what you are willing to do is hold on to the grievance instead. “Instead of what?” you may ask. “Instead of experiencing peace,” I answer. You cannot experience personal peace, and still hold on to grievances of any kind. Grievances, big or small, are equally capable of disturbing your peace. If peace is disturbed at all, even in the slightest, it is disturbed completely. Grievances are always at the base of unforgiveness, and always grounded in fear. Peace is always grounded in love. The question is always: do you love yourself enough to allow peace to be your prevailing experience?
Choose Love and Forgiveness Is Natural
The choice to forgive is actually a choice to love. Like peace, forgiveness is the effect and consequence of choosing love over fear. If you are unwilling to forgive, you choose the grievance instead. Once again, you are free to do so. However, you are not free to hold on to the grievance, and still experience peace.
All grievances are founded in fear, and peace is not possible where fear is present. Only love casts out fear. Fear begets more fear, and is a continuous disruptor of your peace. Your unwillingness to forgive always extracts a heavy toll on your experience of peace. Is the price of your personal peace worth holding on to the grievance? Is the experience of fear more desirable to you than the experience of love? Choosing love only appears to be the harder choice. In truth, love is our natural state. Fear is something we made up to give us a reason to withhold our love. Choose love, and forgiveness is natural.
To Forgive, Become Willing to Forgive
If you truly desire peace in your life, then you must be willing to forgive. Forgive what? Forgive everyone for everything, all the time, every day of your life. I know that seems like a tall order, but that is just an illusion, a false belief that there are some things more valuable than your personal peace.
Surely, there are days when you just won’t feel like forgiveness, and that is okay. Indulge yourself, if you must. Cherish your grievances, revel in your unforgiveness, throw a fit over everyone who you believe has victimized or wronged you ever. Curse them, damn them, stick pins in the voodoo doll, or burn the effigy you made of them. Get it all out of your system. Do it until you are completely exhausted.
Then, forgive yourself for taking the day off from your experience of peace. Be willing to forgive all of those you cursed the day before, and then, be on the ready to forgive anything that may come up today to challenge your peace. It is not enough to simply forgive the past. You must be willing to forgive the present as well. What good does it do you if you forgive the past, but bag new grievances each and every day to replace the old grievances? You will never get to peace that way.
Forgiveness; Imagine The Possibilities
We tend to think that the power of imagination is only for creative or artistic pursuits. But the truth is we use the power of imagination, all day, every day, even if we do not perceive ourselves to be creative or artistic. Imagination is the creative power we use, or misuse as it were, to relive past memories, good or bad. It is also the power we use to project a vision of a future we expect or desire to have. Imagination is always in play.
The upshot is we are always using our power of imagination in the present moment to either relive the past, or project the future. Some times, we are even in the present moment, using our imagination to create our experience, right here, right now. Depending on how we are employing it, we either experience peace, or some alternative to peace. If it is an alternative to peace, then fear and grievances are in place. If we are ever going to soar to new heights in our experience, forgiveness is an essential flight tool. Holding to grievances keeps us grounded, tethered to an earthly experience, unable to take flight and soar.
Grievances will never allow us to gain spiritual lift, and ascend to new heights. They are like weights that frustrate our ability to ascend to a greater creative potential. In our quest to ascend to new heights of experience, we must become willing to reimagine the importance of forgiveness as a strategy for breaking through our perceived limitations and developing our divine, creative potential to its fullest expression. Without the ability to imagine the possibility of peace for our lives, we might never know the essential need and true purpose of forgiveness in our lives.