The Power of Forgiveness

I was going to write this post about something else entirely, and then I read this article:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/20/us/libya-widow-teacher-forgives-attackers/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Wow!

This is the story of a couple who traveled to Libya with their young son so the husband could teach English at The International School. He went out fo a jog one morning about a month ago and was gunned down by a 4 masked men in a jeep. The story has provoked outrage and anger around the world. The wife, however, has a message for everyone: love and forgiveness. What did she want to tell the people who murdered her husband?

 

“I just envision the black Jeep driving up to him and I don’t know their faces. I just want them to know that God loves them and can forgive them for this,” Anita Smith tells CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview.

Emotion broke her voice as she spoke.

“I don’t know them. That’s how I honestly feel. It may sound crazy. It’s God’s spirit that’s putting this inside me,” she added.

Smith said she didn’t feel any anger or want any revenge against the killers of her husband.

“I just really want them to know that I do love them and I forgive them, and Ronnie would want this, and I hope and pray that our son, Hosea, would believe this,” she said.

 

That is just incredible, moving and powerful. Now, why do I share this with you?

Forgiveness is a very, very powerful emotion, and so is guilt, and so is anger. We all know that the mind and the body are not really separate things but are different aspects and reflections of our being. I will go so far as to say this: the state of our spirit will absolutely mirror itself in the state of our physical body. You guys see this all the time. How do you physically feel when you’re completely stressed out? Does that feel “good”? If you deal with a chronic pain issue, how does your pain respond to stress? Probably hurts more, right?  

One of the benefits I have of being the longest-tenured clinic director in the Egoscue clinic system is I have a good sample size from which to draw conclusions. And I see over and over and over again that where a person is at emotionally and spiritually ABSOLUTELY impacts their pain.  And the most damaging emotions I see people hold on to, the ones that wreak the most physical havoc, are anger, guilt and shame.  Those emotions are incredibly destructive not just to your spirit, but to your body as well. They are absolutely inflammatory.

I see a lot of people walking into our clinic looking for help who are laboring under the tremendous burden of these emotions. And their physical progress will be necessarily limited to the degree these folks continue go hold onto these things. Some of the time, these emotions are directed outward at others. The client perceives someone “did them wrong” and they cannot let it go.  These people are stuck in victim-ness. More often, though, these emotions are directed inward, at themselves. They thought or felt or did something in their past they literally cannot stand. Think about that phrase, “I can’t stand the fact that…..” And then they come literally limping into my clinic having trouble standing!  

Holding on to these emotions is like grabbing a hot, burning coal from a fire and refusing to let it go. They keep grasping it, and it keeps burning them.  They cannot – and will not – begin to heal until they let that coal go. And likewise, many of the folks who walk into our clinic will not experience full healing and restoration in their bodies until they let go whatever that toxic emotion is they continue to carry with them, like a burning coal.

Is this post speaking to you? If so, good. Are you holding on to a burning coal at this very moment? Do you know what it is? Is holding on to it serving you or hurting you? Could you have the courage to lay it down and forgive and love yourself?  

Or are you reading this and nodding and saying “that was me, I spent years holding that coal, thank God I laid it down some years ago”? If that’s you, I’d love for you to share your story in the comments below.

If you need to forgive someone else, or if you need to forgive yourself, go read or re-read that story above. Then I’d strongly suggest you go watch this 18 minute video from the TED conferences, Brene Brown talking about shame. It is incredibly powerful.

If you’re reading this, if you are a client at an Egoscue clinic or are thinking of becoming one, the odds are good you are experiencing some kind of pain. A great place to start in the healing process is to do the inner work first of ensuring you can say yes to the questions “Am I ok? Do I approve of myself? Do I love myself in a healthy, nurturing way?” Be brutally honest with yourself and if the answer is yes, terrific! If the answer is no, I’m proud of you for asking the question and having the courage to answer it honestly.  Figure out what you need to do to be able to let go of the toxic emotions that are oxidizing and inflamming both your spirit and your body. Perhaps that is having a very frank, honest talk with a certain person in your life. Or setting up an appointment to speak to a counselor at your church, temple, synagogue or mosque. Or having a visit with a mental health professional. Or maybe it’s just realizing that, finally, enough is enough. In this moment, right now, you have the power to let this go, whatever it is, however big it seems. My prayer for you is that you’ll have the courage to do this and can then step into a new era of your life, free of these weights you’ve been carrying for so long. 

 

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2 Comments on “The Power of Forgiveness”

  1. Heather Says:

    It’s early here in the UK and I just was browsing through the blog due to the fact that I saved the site as a bookmark a while ago. I couldn’t sleep, wracked with brooding and pain and was trying to distract my attention from the burdens I am carrying….and then I randomly selected this archive piece and it was exactly what I needed to hear….I already know I have to let go and have been struggling so hard to do that. Sometimes you are sent messages or guided to messages at the time you need them and this was one of those times. I will now picture these burdens as hot coals and can fling them back into the fire. Thank you. I really enjoy your blog posts and wish I lived in Austin!

    • Rick Says:

      Hi Heather, thanks for the comment and I’m glad you found this helpful! Just one note, we have a number of clients in the UK with whom we work by Skype. In fact, a third of all our therapy now is done by Skype, it’s a great way to get help without having to travel to a clinic, especially for our international clients. Pain takes a toll, both physically and emotionally. If you’d ever like to explore this further, feel free to email us at austin@Egoscue.com. We’re here to help.


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