From Guilt and Resentment to Acceptance and Forgiveness

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.

2 thoughts on “From Guilt and Resentment to Acceptance and Forgiveness”

  1. Ooh, hard questions. Attitude for me is about how I am looking at something right now in this moment. I have a choice. While I am influenced by my feelings, I don’t have to let feelings dictate my attitude. For example. a person in the store in line ahead of me may be causing trouble for the check-out person and holding the people behind them up…including me. I may feel agitated especially if I am in a hurry. My attitude has to do with what I think. I can judge that person for being so inconsiderate. Or I can refrain from judging and assume they are unconscious of the inconvenience they are causing. I don’t know how important their need is, nor do they know mine. With a less judgmental attitude, I can say something or not but it will come out in a kinder way if my attitude is one of tolerance. This is the way I see it.
    Forgiveness is tricky. I don’t believe real forgiveness is achievable without the help of God…that is my spirituality speaking. If someone has harmed me or judged me, I can’t of my own power erase the sting of that. I can do things, though, to promote new ways of thinking about the harm done. I might try to understand what the other person was thinking at the time of the offense, for example. Perhaps they were young and self-centered at the time. Perhaps they were lacking information about my situation or what I was going through. Maybe I can consider that there were stresses going on in their life at the time that prevented them from acting thoughtfully.
    Thinking in these ways helps me move toward forgiveness, but the sting sometimes lingers. Then I may have to ask myself why an event was especially hurtful to me. Did a person’s behavior make me feel left-out. Did I feel that my opinion didn’t matter? If I really want to achieve forgiveness, I will go to all lengths, including talking to others who can help me.
    I know I have forgiven when I can recall the event without the bad feeling coming back all over again. I also know forgiveness when thoughts about the hurtful situation stop hanging around in my head.

    So, attitude to me is how I look at something right now in the moment and I have a choice about that. Forgiveness is a process that requires work on my part, but in the end, is the work of God in me.

  2. Wishing you would elaborate on the forgiveness and attitude change aspect. While I can change the attitude, I find it difficult to understand and then incorporate forgiveness. I can’t define forgiveness…

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