F – Faith & Forgiveness
Talking to God ~ God box ~ Prostration and Surrender ~ Trust Exercises ~ Personal creeds ~ Examen of consciousness ~ Participation in a Religious Community ~ Sacraments ~ Sharing Sacred Stories
Faith is about your sharing your soul/self/consciousness with a larger entity. That larger entity could be a God, nature, unseen forces or the collective peoples of the world. However you choose to nurture your spirituality aides in your sense of connectedness to the world around you. People come together with like values, morals and believes in faith. There many ways to believe and worship. Those many options listed above are about the connection, feeling comradery and support while allowing others and your entity to take on some of your strife. If you are not religious or feel a sense of spirituality, you could find a place or activity that gives you peace and sense of safety.
Letting go ~ confession of sins ~ repentance ~ reconciliation ~ Passing the Peace
Forgiveness is very powerful! It is also quite difficult for some people. Forgiveness includes other people who may have wronged you, grief for unmet needs and your personal transgressions. Yes! We need to forgive ourselves as much as others.
We usually relate forgiveness to “forgive and forget” when you have been hurt be others. This does not help you or them. If you have been wronged, you need to examine that instance, take responsibility for your portion, adjust your expectations and boundaries and let the anger and sadness about it go. It does not have to even involve the other person. Forgiveness of others is about YOU. You need to make peace with a wrong doing and release the power it has over you. This can be simple or complex. Letting go may need outside help in complex cases like abuse. When others ask for forgiveness, they are asking you to make them feel better about what they did. You are NOT condoning behavior or words with forgiveness. You are freeing yourself of the negative impact on you. I have written on this in more detail here.
Identifying unmet needs is tricky and can harbor some really negative feelings. People let us down. It is usually no fault of their own. Just our expectations. We can harbor some pretty negative feelings about those unmet needs. For example, if your mother suffered from severe depression and was not capable of being affectionate or even emotionally available when you were a child, you may have some anger about that as an adult. Forgiving her will allow you to let go of those painful feelings. This would entail understanding her situation from an adult perspective and accepting her limitations. Writing a letter to people you have negative feelings about (even if you never send it) can help you sort and understand those unmet needs.
Forgiveness of yourself is allowing you to see your mistakes, sins, bad choices, wrong turns, etc and letting them go. You can’t just dismiss those things from your life. All those choices are part of you and who are you today. Your personal forgiveness is about looking at those choices, what have learned from them, what might you do differently and how you can grow from that experience. Once you really understand them, you can let them go. You can allow yourself the freedom to not feel the guilt and remorse of your sins. Saying “I’m sorry”means you understand what you have done and will not do it again.