How to Forgive When You Can't

God said:

If you cannot at this moment find it your heart to forgive, don't force it. Just let go of it. Forgiveness is not something you do.

In the case of a girlfriend or boyfriend or husband or wife who has left you and chosen another, your heart hurts on many levels, and your hurts go deep.

But even a small thing can harden your heart — even a stranger, a salesperson perhaps, is rude or indifferent to you, and you stand helplessly by.

The hurt you feel from a loved one cuts a deeper and wider swath, and yet, the hurts are the same. One you identify as big, and one you identify as small. Yet there is no difference in forgiveness except in the time you take to let go of the hurt.

In the case of a salesperson who does not treat you right, you may live it over and over again for a while, but you never thought your life was dependent upon that salesperson and soon enough you find other aggravations to take the place of this one. Perhaps another salesperson.

But in the case of a grand love, you do not think anyone can take their place. You think they are irreplaceable. You had a dream, beloved, and now your dream is defunct.

When someone you have loved no longer treats you rightly, through abandonment, through preference for another, through whatever device the human mind creates, you are convinced that your life is dependent upon the existence of your former love in it. Somewhere somehow you got the idea that your loved one had to stay your loved one, had to stay in your life, had to be there for you. You feel that he or she has been amputated from your life and heart and that you are left with an enormous wound that will not heal despite all your best efforts, all your prayers, all your will. You feel that your heart has been cut in half. You feel that love and trust and identity have been taken from you.

You would forgive if you knew how. You would forgive if you could see that this person, this individual who has left you did not leave you with a mortal wound. You would forgive if only you could see this tragedy differently.

Forgiveness is not a matter of will. It is not a result of effort. You are not going to force forgiveness anymore than you can force a lost love to return. Let go of effort. Effort can only push the wound deeper. Effort is opposed to letting go. Effort is indeed a form of holding on. You would control forgiveness if you could, but forgiveness is not something you control. Forgiveness is more like a discovery, more like something that arrives, more like something you finally allow yourself to receive.

When you are in the midst of your agony at what seems like betrayal, you feel you can never recover. It doesn't help you to hear that you are better off. You are hurting right now. It doesn't help you to hear that you will get over it.

What does someone else know of the depth of your devotion? In truth, beloved, despite your pain and your loyalty, your devotion is more like attachment than devotion. Love would bless your loved one along their path, wouldn't it? Even when the path is a different one from yours. You do not want to listen, but your pulse beats: "What good would it be to be with one who no longer wants to be with me?"

Somehow you hold the other person responsible, but they committed no sin. They may not have desired this change either. What were they supposed to do? Pretend? And for how long? And would you really have wanted that?

What do you think it would cost you to say to your lost love — to say silently:

"I wish you well. Be on your way. I will go on mine. I release you from any imagined obligation to me. You are obligated to follow your own heart, not mine. I would not rule you. I do not wish to take you away from your happiness, anymore than you wanted to take my happiness away from me. I only imagined for a while that you were my happiness. Forgive me for making you responsible for my happiness. I know now that you are not. You never were. It was my own dream, and now my dream of life with you is at an end. And now my new life begins. Thank you for all the joy you gave me, and thank you for moving on when that was what you had to do. I give you a good send-off to your new life, and I welcome mine.

"And if I cannot say this to you truly from my heart, then I ask God to do it for me. I ask God to bless you in my name, and I ask God to relieve me of any burdens I hold to myself or any restrictions I would put upon you. I ask God to make me as free as you. God's love can melt my heart that hardened toward you. God's love will.

"I wait for the miracle of His love to reach me fully and undeniably. God has said it takes only willingness, not my will. I have plenty of willingness.

"Meanwhile, I go about my life, and I give little bits of my love along the way to friends and strangers until my heart is once again open to the fullness of the love that I can give."

It costs you nothing to say this. The universe will hear it. And I have heard it. I heard it long ago before you spoke it, My beloved.

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