It was a flier that passed me by recently, an advertizement for a conference, the key speaker’s topic: “Moving from Guilt and Resentment to Acceptance and Forgiveness.” I’m no counselor but I know a think or two about this. My Higher Power has provided me with plenty of life situations to practice guilt and resentment and feel what that is like. Also, HP has proveded me with lots of guidance to move me toward acceptance and forgiveness. This is what I have found: the latter is a much happier place to be, or as my friend Dennis likes to call that place: serenity. Dennis suggests that while happiness depends on one’s circumstances, serenity is lasting and one can experience it even in the midst of turmoil and loss. I like it. It rings true.
The transition from the darkness of guilt and resentment to the light of acceptance and forgiveness was not easy. Guilt for things I have done or not done – this was difficult. But Acceptance was needed for me to stop feeling guilt for my imperfections. As strange as it seems, it was quite a revelation to me to say, “Judy, you are simply a human being. You are not perfect. No human being is. That is how God created you – imperfect. Like a piece of art, this is what makes you interesting. Stop arguing with the Potter.”
As for things I have done or not done, out and out harms, I learned ways to ask for forgiveness in word or to make amends by changing my behavior. Improved behavior required, I learned from experience, a change of attitude. Unless my attitude has changed any successes at reconciliation are short-lived.
Instead of loving my enemies, my HP told me to stop labeling people as enemies. These were also works of art, equally imperfect, equally loved by their Creator. Calling them enemies was an insult, I discerned, not to them but to the Creator.