Lessons on Forgiveness: Stop Punishing Your Future
We must forgive in order to continue to live life to the fullest.
BY: Lori Rubenstein
We’ve all seen people who walk around with a chip on their shoulders. People who never get over a wrong or a hurt. You know exactly who I’m talking about.
As a divorce attorney, I came into contact with many people who built great big walls around themselves to avoid getting hurt again. In fact, I myself discovered the art of building a fortress around my own heart. It contained a tiny little door that only my children, dog, and cat could squeeze through. Heaven help the man who tried to love me and knock those bricks down!
I wanted love, but I didn’t want to be hurt again. While I remained imprisoned inside my walled-fortress, thinking I was punishing my ex, who in reality moved on with his life, I was withering away emotionally.
My story is not unusual, I know that. You too have story. We are all on earth right now learning some important spiritual lessons. Obstacles and challenges are a part of the plan. We can not avoid them. But what we can do is develop better abilities to respond to these life challenges.
One day it hit me! I was destroying the future by playing the victim! Poor me! My husband did this to me! As long as I was blaming him, I did not have to look at myself. I did not have to take any responsibility at all for my piece in the break-up of the marriage. How convenient.
The truth is, and I’m embarrassed to say, it took my second husband to teach me the importance of forgiving. I met Michael in Israel on a volunteer program. He was handsome and I knew I could trust him. Michael had a faith in God that I admired. He was wise and gave me space and time to learn how to trust, be vulnerable, and love again.
As the walls came down, my heart opened and I allowed him to lead me through a forgiveness process. We took out my box of past memories, which was actually a box of past hurts! It held notes and letters from everyone who wronged me or hurt me. I held onto them because they were the proof of how they all hurt me. We had a ceremony. I shared the notes with him, I asked God to help me forgive them, I asked to forgive myself and we burned them.
It was the first layer of forgiveness. As I forgave, I stopped being a victim. I found my real strength. I started liking who I was. I softened. I’m not saying all this happened immediately, but over the next year, the bricks on my wall began to disintegrate and I stopped punishing my future!
With forgiveness, I learned that I could be hurt and heal again. It was within MY ability to bounce back! Now that is real, authentic power!
You cannot drive the car forward looking in the rear-view mirror.
Here are 3 helpful next steps if you are ready to forgive:
1. Set an intention and vision for where you want to be, and then ask what is the next step? Remember the past does not equal the future.
2. A door must close in order for a new one to open. When they first close, it’s scary, later the blessings are revealed. If we focus on our fears, on that closed door, we leave no room for the new one to open. Don’t let your past punish your future.
3. Accept the past as fact, don’t try to change it. From a spiritual perspective, there is no right or wrong path, all are lessons. From a human perspective, some paths are easier than others. It’s nice to be able to learn lessons in a more gentle way rather than the banging our heads against a wall way. Acceptance allows us to be on a gentler path, where we no longer beat ourselves up.
Lori Rubenstein has transcended many times in her life, moving from the role of divorce attorney to forgiveness teacher. She is a beacon of light for those stuck in the pain of their past. She is the author of three transformational books: Transcending Divorce: A Guide for Personal Growth and Transformation and Freedom from Abuse: Finding Yourself Again, and her newest book Forgiveness: Heal Your Past and Find the Peace YOU Deserve with her “4-step Living with Forgiveness” process, will be coming out in the Fall of 2012. For more about Lori visit her website and you may view her Forgiving the Unforgivable Video here.