October 15, 2010

The Loving Power of Forgiveness

Today's reading from Courage to Change begins, "the most loving form of detachment I have found has been forgiveness."

Forgiveness.  Alas,  I got that word confused with "Amend making" in Step Nine,  when I  decided it was time to approach my mom.  Instead of making amends, I told her that I forgave her!

That was the hard way to learn that that forgiveness is not always  in my power to give. Mom could not admit she had a slate that needed cleansing, not did she want me my air of condescension, proclaiming her "not guilty."  Mom did not appreciate being forgiven in the way that I wanted to forgive:  she had not asked me for that gift.

Once I adjourned to heal the sting of her rejection, I had to admit, even before our interaction, I  still held bitterness towards her.  Her angry response seemed to justify my thinking of her as a "problem person." But I'd only found that pocket of unexamined self-pity, about how I had been treated by her.

Realizing how easily my anger at my mom had been reactivated,  I had an epiphany. Like the author,  I needed to "be willing to love myself enough to admit that my resentments [still] held me back, and that [could] let them go."    The person I needed to forgive first was ME. Only after I had healed, could I honestly make amends to my problem person, for my part  in our relationship.

An excerpt from In All Our Affairs,  reads,  "A part of me wants to cling to old resentments, but I know the more I forgive, the better my life works."   The reading in Courage to Change explains,  "I think of forgiveness as a scissors.  I use it to cut the strings of resentment that bind me to a problem or a past hurt. By releasing resentment, I set myself free."

My "take" is a little different: I am not sure I can cut the strings of resentment by myself.  Surely God's scissors are more trustworthy than my own, for they are guided by Love.

To forgive, sometimes I need  to let my "problem person" do their own inventory and let God forgive them.  Today, let me accept God's help and the loving power of His hand, when my personal goal of forgiveness seems impossible.


  1. I had to smile at how you told your mother you forgave her. I think that there is a lot of confusion sometimes in meetings about amends and forgiving. Thanks for writing about it here.

  2. Thanks for sharing your smile about my hubris and misunderstanding. Really, what a mix-up, and it is all too common. We really need our human interactions around this material, to get it straight, don't we?


I welcome your thoughts. Keep me honest~