This post and everyone in it has blessed me today by reading it. I have had a few awakenings in recovery, a couple came very early when I knew I had to get rid of resentments or that I would be back out there drinking & drugging again and life would just keep getting worse. I had managed to let go of a LOT of the resentments I'd had, except one. (I'd come to AA with 24 pages of resentments against other people - mostly for abuse of all kinds- and 19 pages of resentements for things I'd done to other people.) The person I coudn't forgive or let go of the resentment was the worst of my perpetraitors of abuse. I had long ago vowed that I'd see him in hell and if I had the power to cast him there, he'd already have been crispy. In fact, so deep was my anger toward him that I would have gone to his funeral to pour gasoline on his casket and struck a match to speed up the process of getting him to hell. Sounds pretty bitter, doesn't it? I was.
This man had not just been abusive, he had caused me to loose my innocence at 5 years old, then continued the abuse sexually for 3 1/2 more years and physical abuse until I was 13 and landed a knife in the wall less than an inch from his head. He was brutal, violent, tortureous (spelling?), cold and without remourse.
Suddenly (not really suddenly), I was 42 and in the program of AA. I had managed to stay sober and clean for about 6 months and life was improving. Out of all those I had resentments towards, there were only two I could not move past. Him, and me. I didn't know if I would EVER truly be able to forgive myself, I sure doubted it. But I knew I wanted to try to learn how, how, how, to forgive him.
One night, I got down on my knees in front of my window...(oh, how I love praying at windows - not so anyone can see me, because I manage to make sure they can't - but just so I can look up at the clouds and the sky)...so here I am, on my knees there and I pray something like, "God, when I asked you to help me a few months ago to change my life you did. You helped me to stop drinking and drugging. Things have been getting better. Now, I realize that if I don't forgive **name omitted***, that I will end up drinking and drugging again. I don't want that. I want to be able to forgive him, but I just don't know how. Please, please, show me how to forgive him. Help me forgive him."
In that same moment, came the same soft voice that pointed me to AA in the first place. "Don't forgive the action, forgive the thinking. Have you ever had a sick thought?"
"Have you ever had a sick thought that you wouldn't want anyone else to know about?" the soft voice asked.
Quickly, things popped into my head that I remembered thinking that I wouldn't want other people to know. "Yes." I said. I had stollen seniors heart medication to get high on. I had "borrowed" (unasked) my mother car when I was younger. I had driven drunk and taken a chance on anyone's life who was on the road - even in blackouts. Those will just name a few of the ones that I don't mind mentioning now...not to mention the ones that would turn my face beet red. "Yes." I said and dropped my head.
"He has too. He acted on that sick thinking. Just forgive the sick thinking. Sick actions come from sick thinking."
It was like lightening struck me. I knew could forgive him for having sick thinking and in that moment, all my anger and hostilities for his sick actions melted away. Later I wondered if that were really true because when I had to be around him from time to time, I still felt uncomfortable, but I later realized that it was just me being in self preservation mode. I didn't hate him, nor want him to burn in hell anymore. In fact, I was praying for him to turn his life around and I no longer cared to hear an apology from him. Him changing his life would be wonderful if it happened. So far it hasn't.
A few years later, he got in a bad way and had to be taken to the hospital. The doctors didn't know if he was going to live or not. I went to the hospital. I was shocked when I arrived because he was so bad off he didn't look like himself. He had more than 19 tubes running into his body and was in a coma. I went to his bedside, held his hand and told him I was there. He was out of it. I started praying for him out loud. I prayed for him to get well, prayed for his salvation and prayed the sinner's prayer for him. As I prayed, he began to move his upper body and head and inched over to where my hand was holding his. He put his head against my hand. Tears poured down my face. I knew then that I would never doubt again that I had forgiven him. He did survive, and I still see and talk to him occassionally, and pray for him. He is a cronic active alcoholic who is dying from cirrhosis of the liver and crones disease.
As for forgiving me, on that same day I prayed for forgiveness for him, and was given the lightening bolt revelation of forgiving the sick thinking and accepted it and was able to forgive him, I heard the same soft voice say, "Now, apply some of that same forgiveness to yourself." I had replied back, "I'll try." And I did, it worked.
Each time someone does something offensive, I try to think if I've done something similar and that quickly takes care of it, or if not, I try to remember to forgive their sick thinking that caused thier actions. I also wonder now at what has happened to them to make them be rude, or offending. Why are they like they are? How far back does it go in thier life? Or what's going on in thier life that they are like that?
Some days I do better than others - but thank God for the 10th & 11th steps.
I used to do the white or golden light thing...and should do it again. Now that I remember ....maybe I will.
And thinking of doing these things to God....WOW...now that's deep. I like it.
Wow, I didn't mean for this to be so long winded. I apologize for the length.