Our senses, awareness, memories, challenges, aspirations, and current predicament are often heightened during the holidays. This season highlights the best and worst of our relationships, decisions, and circumstances.

In the name of peace, let us explore forgiveness. Forgiveness enables us to sustain the relationships that, in turn, sustain us. Forgiveness is one of the most rewarding gifts that we can give since, as we extend it to others, it returns to us.

Why do we have so much to forgive? Human beings have needs. While our social needs require that we play nicely with others, we discover that those with whom we are interacting mirror to us the places in which we carry judgments. We must choose continually between our judgments and our relationships, and this choice creates ripe opportunities to practice forgiveness—forgiveness of ourselves, of others, of our life experiences, of the human condition.

To find a strategy to cultivate satisfying relationships, we must explore the art of forgiveness—a practice that rests on our ability to release our judgments. Instead of playing the right/wrong game, releasing judgments delivers us gently into a state of grace. Forgiveness is a magic salve that unravels grievances, and, thereby, expands our ability to be present. It transports us into a new set of values, expressions, and experiences.

Gary Chapman, in his book, The Five Love Languages, says, “Forgiveness… is a commitment. It is a choice to show mercy, not to hold the offense up against the offender. Forgiveness is an expression of love.” Forgiveness is not only an expression of love—in the sense that it is motivated by love—it is also a methodology for increasing one’s capacity for love.

Judgments are derived from our experience. Life experience enables us to cultivate values that guide our decision-making. However, viewing a current situation through a past experience does not clarify it. Our previous experience is unrelated to our current experience except to the extent that we force the present to conform to what we have known. Our demand to understand what is happening in any given situation interferes with our ability to be present with it. We often sacrifice our wonder and curiosity to a fear-based need to be an expert.

If we can open to what is unknown, we can experience the world afresh. We can bring repeating cycles of the past to completion, which will enable us to see our present circumstance clearly. In a state of forgiveness, possibilities open up, miracles happen, and we return to the wonder of being alive. We begin to create consciously what we desire to have in our lives—we move toward fulfillment, rather than moving away from pain. The process of forgiveness is necessary to embracing our dreams.

We can take a lesson from children. When children are upset, they may threaten to withdraw their friendship. However, once apologies are exchanged, play resumes. In general, children do not wield a hurt as a weapon of manipulation against their friends. What is done is done, and the child is free to decide what suits him or her now. In that instant, the world becomes new.

Let us close with a citation from, A Course in Miracles.

The real world is the state of mind in which the only purpose of the world is seen to be forgiveness… no rules are idly set, and no demands are made of anyone or anything to twist and fit into the dream of fear. Instead there is a wish to understand all things created as they really are. And it is recognized that all things must be first forgiven, and then understood. (ACIM, Text (chapter 30, section V, sentences 1-6)).

Happy Holidays!

Written by Heidi Szycher, a staff member at the Boulder Psychic Institute. Check out her personal site at healings.biz.

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