The Freedom of Forgiveness - Christine Kane

Today’s post was written by guest blogger, Sue Ludwig. Sue is a neonatal occupational therapist and a published poet. She is a consultant to neonatal intensive care units around the country and a national speaker. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.

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I once had a neighbor who was also my friend.

She took care of our children while we worked. Our kids loved her.

We shared things.  Ladders, snow shoveling, stories about our lives. Her bout with cancer and her recovery.

Six years ago we also shared an experience all too common, yet all too quiet.

Unbeknownst to her, a member of her family was molesting some of the children in her care. One of those children was mine. My child told me or I may have never known.

Our world crashed at that time. It was a gut-wrenching several months of police reports, court dates and sorrow.

It was also the end of a friendship I previously cherished. And eventually a change of address for our family.

I’ve learned endless lessons from this experience. One of them is about the power of forgiveness.

We tend to hold onto anger because we believe it is somehow hurting the other person. We want them to feel part of our pain. Like the least they can do is absorb some of our resentment and live in the shadow of shame for awhile. Yeah, that will make us feel better.

We wear this anger and resentment like armor, protecting us from any further hurt, from any further relationships that may end in similar despair. No way are we making that mistake again. No way are we trusting anyone with our children or our friendship. Not worth the pain.

Soon we become a prisoner of our own armor. The energy of that armor seeps into us. Being bitter and angry is how we begin to engage the world. But there is another way.

We can choose forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not happen overnight. It is the slow decision to shed the armor. To know that the world becomes what we put into it. And so do we.

Last summer while taking Christine’s Uplevel Your Life program, I got really clear about the kind of energy I wanted to put into the world and therefore into myself and my family.

While in the midst of that program I ran into my old neighbor. We were at a park and she was walking a dog I didn’t recognize. Without hesitation I walked right up to her. I asked her how she was doing and if this was a new dog. We had a brief, civil conversation about nothing, and yet somehow everything was said.

I felt like I had taken my first full breath in 5 years. I had not realized the weight I was carrying and was relieved by how free I felt in letting it go. Letting her go.

I didn’t need to write her a long letter or declare that I was forgiving her. We both knew in that moment of humble human conversation that the armor was gone. I swear I almost heard it hit the ground.

This doesn’t mean I’m a ‘good person’ and I was not motivated from that standpoint. Forgiveness is not about being ‘a good person’. It’s about being free.

When in a true place of forgiveness we find we don’t want anyone to hurt anymore. (Least of all, us!)

Here are 3 thoughts that continue to help me with forgiveness:

1.    Forgiving doesn’t mean we no longer care about what happened.

It means we want to heal from what happened.

2.    Forgiveness lets us live in the present.

Each time we connect with resentment we rob ourselves of being present. We give more energy away to the person or situation we resent than to those standing right in front of us. Forgiveness opens us up and helps us live in real time, not the past.

3.    Forgiveness is a choice.

My husband and I could’ve chosen to live in that place of resentment. We could’ve felt very justified in being angry at the world and that family. Instead we chose to see them as just that: a family who was now going through their own horrible realizations.

We had to make a decision: keep our children tethered to that one moment in their childhood and teach them how to cling to victimization and resentment, OR show them by our actions that healing and letting go was a choice they could make over and over in their lives.

Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. It opens a space inside of us for other things, other wonderful things. Like knowing you have so much space inside you to love your kids because along the way you consciously let go of each hurt that binds you.

Free yourself.

35 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Leigh

    Wow! Thanks for sharing simple truths about realities of life. My favorite part was that you didn’t need to make a grandiose statement – but just a simple gesture or mind shift. Most of us will be faced with this challenge and your story inspires us all to let go and live in the present!!

  • Leigh

    Wow! Thanks for sharing simple truths about realities of life. My favorite part was that you didn’t need to make a grandiose statement – but just a simple gesture or mind shift. Most of us will be faced with this challenge and your story inspires us all to let go and live in the present!!

  • leah

    This is such a powerful post, thank you for sharing your story!

  • Rajesh

    Catherine , Sue

    Thanks for clearing my view point and helping me to understand it better. Thank you so much.

    Love – rajesh.

  • TracyWall

    What an amazing truth. I’m trying to justify forgiving someone and this has given me the reason. Thank you so much.

  • Mary Miller

    Thank you so much Sue, what a wonderful post! For so many years I let my emotions (hurt,fear,envy,anger,sadness,victim mindset, etc.)rule my life & run amuck in my head – nasty energy vampires! I am now a conscious creator of my joyful life, and when the vampires pop up – they are promptly evicted! The book “Ask And It Is Given” has helped me tremendously in this process. Keep the great insights coming Sue 🙂

  • claire fontaine

    Such valuable insight, so beautifully written. Sue, you are a gift to all you touch. I’m sure that woman’s life changed forever the day you saw her in the park, and who knows how that will ripple out in the world. Love – Claire

  • sue

    I can’t believe how insightful and thoughtful these comments are (including my husband’s- he doesn’t want anyone to know how nice he is :)) I feel much gratitude when I read all of these. Thank you!

  • Rob

    Once again – Made me cry. You continue to amaze me. It continues to be a great journey with you. Keep up the good work. I am proud of you.

    Love – Your Husband

  • Eden

    Wow, Sue, you have really written some words that are very powerful and healing. One of the first things you wrote was “Like the least they can do is absorb some of our resentment and live in the shadow”, I know I’ve done this, but who was I kidding. I was the one still tethered, not them. Freedom is
    such a relief! The other statement that sure rings true for me is the one about “forgiving” so “I” can be seen as a good person! Thank you for sharing!

  • Andrea

    Dear Sue, Thank you for this post…it is the clearest demonstration on how to forgive that I have ever read. I too struggle with hurts from the past, particularly dealing with abandonment and rejection. I have been told over and over by many healers that forgiveness will heal me. I have understood the concept. I understood that my parents were doing the best they could but I did not have a clue how to move to forgiveness. I spent most of my energy just trying to survive intact. I am beginning to get a glimmer with the idea of not dragging my past into my future. Your post is very very helpful. Many thanks.

  • michelle

    very touching post, deeply personally engaging. I too come from a family that doesnt let you forget, but in a more silent but deadly kind of way, You were never, ever allowed to speak of anything on those levels again. Not a murmur, not a feeling, not a thought. No working anything out or dealing with it. Just bottle it up and go away. I had a lot of anger growing up and in my adult life. Well into my late 40’s when one day my oldest daughter, probably 25 at the time looked at me and said, why does that still bother you….thats not your life anymore, thats not you anymore, and opened up a door for me to look into and see how much of my life those angers had taken from me. I left those thoughts and feeling right there and feel so much freer now. Thanks for the post it was very moving.

  • Lorie

    Your message speaks volumes of truth. I have heard this message over and over the last several years. I am trying to forgive and free myself of all the hurt, anger, resentment and pain of what has happened to me and our family. I know that I am only hurting myself by holding on to these emotions. I try to forgive and release the past, to live in the present moment. At times I am able to but the stories in my head pulls me back. I long to get to the place where I finally realize, I have let go, and have accepted what has happened.

    Thank you for reminding of the freedom that will bring.

  • Kelly – Sister of another mother

    Suze,
    Wow, what a beautiful testament. The energy you project is a testament of the work you have done and continue to refine. I couldn’t agree more – I swear I felt as though I lost weight when I forgave my brother for rejecting me and my children. The same goes for forgiving the parents and students at Assumption for the bullying behavior that sent Luke to the point of suicide. I truly believe Luke is a better person for having moved through his experience. Love you!

  • Anna

    Wonderful!

    I need to share this…

  • sue

    Wow! I finally am near a computer today and am overwhelmed by your insightful comments. Thank you for sharing your own experiences here.

    Rajesh-Catherine did a great job answering this! And I agree with what she said. We really don’t have any control over what other people think or feel, only ourselves. So use all that energy to heal yourself, and let the other person go. It seems unfair, yet holding yourself captive in your anger is the most unfair thing.

    Lynne- thanks for your very kind and heartfelt words!

    Marie- Couldn’t agree more. How amazing would it be to do whatever makes you happy versus anything that is connected to how they made you feel?!! Good luck!

    dian- Good for you for working on your own healing and sounding so centered. You know you’d never repeat your mother’s decision and that is great for the world.

  • Elaine

    Beautifully written and thank you for sharing this with us.

    Dropping the armor is a wonderful description. It’s easy to forget that we have a choice, and that choice can lead to our own healing.

  • Deanne

    Echoing others, what a beautiful, generous post. Also makes me think of perspective of the spectrum of what needs forgiving. Yours was a biggie. People (including me:) carry around far less major unforgiven acts. I believe you when you say you heard it hit the ground. Those things have immense weight. Thanks!

  • Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord

    What a beautiful, beautiful post. I loved this line, especially, “Forgiveness is not about being ‘a good person’. It’s about being free.”

    So powerful and so necessary.

    Thank you for sharing your story and wisdom!

  • brojoe

    Awesome Sue. Like always.

  • Meg

    Sue, What a beautifully spoken and powerful lesson. It was just what I needed to hear today. Thank you.

  • Catherine Cantieri, Sorted

    Rajesh, I don’t mean to speak for Sue, but I think the post was about getting past all that for the sake of our own peace of mind. The other person doesn’t need to know; especially in Sue’s case, the other person was going through her own version of hell. I think that if you need the other person to realize all the negative emotions that developed against them, maybe you haven’t really forgiven them.

  • Joanne Giesbrecht

    What an awesome post! It so often takes us a long time to truly learn how to live in the moment, not allowing the past to dictate what this day will be. Thank you for this authentic and insightful “story”.

  • Karly Randolph Pitman

    Beautiful post, Sue. I have held onto bitterness, anger and resentment for the wrongs that have happened in my life – and your writing led me to recognize, that, like you, I have held onto that pain because I wanted others to feel my hurt. I wanted them to hurt as badly as I’ve hurt – to punish them as they punished me.

    You’ve given me much food for thought about compassion and healing and forgiveness this morning. Thank you.

    I, too, am ready to drop my armor.

    Best to you,
    Karly Randolph Pitman

  • Chrissy

    You continue to amaze me with your strength, grace and perspective. Forgiveness is yet another way to infuse positive energy into yourself and others. I am honored to be your friend, Sue.

  • Rajesh

    Sue ,

    It was a wonderful post.But how to make the other person realize about the frustration ,disappointment, hatred that developed againt him/her.

    -Rajesh

  • Dian Reid

    Sue,

    Your post hits home for several reasons. Thank you for being strong enough to protect your child once you became aware…my mother could not. And thank you for sharing your experience of forgiveness. I went through my own experience years ago regarding my molester. It’s so true that you need not speak the words, “I forgive you,” but feel them in your heart. After all, forgiveness is not for them, it is for you.

  • Positively Present

    Wonderful post about forgiveness. It’s not always easy, but it does benefit us in the long run and, no matter how hard it is to do, forgiving others is a wonderful way for us to live in the moment and embrace the present.

  • Jodi at Joy Discovered

    Sue, you are a gifted writer. Thank you for sharing your story. It took me a very long time to understand forgiveness but like you, I finally got it, and you are right, it frees us up to be present. I love your image of armor falling to the ground. I think your 3 thoughts about forgiveness are very, very helpful. Thank you so much! Blessings to your family.

  • Tracy

    Thank you, Sue. This post was an profound gift to me this morning.

  • Marie

    Great post. I grew up in a family that made a point of never forgetting or forgiving anything and dragging it all out for regular bouts of whining and crying about how they were victims and the world was so cruel – blah blah blah blah. Once I got away and started to think and live differently I found that I could be so happy and so SANE by giving up that constant revisiting of the victim’s role.

    Now, my biggest challenge is forgiving my family for being such a bunch of nuts when I was growing up. For robbing me of years when I could have been living right, or learning to live right, and knowing what sane, happy life looked like. But I’m getting better about that too – the day that I was working out, in my mind, a complex calculus of “I hope that my misery in this job that you told me I’d be a loser and failure unless I took, because my interests were “loser, nothing” interests, chokes you to death and ruins your life” that I was ruining my own life. My misery will never choke them – though justice might dictate that it should. But it shouldn’t choke me any longer, either.

  • Giulietta Nardone

    Hi Sue,

    Really enjoyed your post. Agree with everything you’re saying here. I see people refusing to forgive others often. They cannot see that the person they are not forgiving is themselves.

    Muse thx
    Giulietta the Muse

  • Lynne

    Sue,

    I love how you write — I love the way that you make connections — and the way you portray them in a way that is so pure — so approachable — so understandable. Every time I read one of your posts, I feel like a light bulb pops on inside my head — inside my heart.

    Thank you.

  • seabluelee

    This was lovely, and much needed. Thank you.