From the darkness into the light of forgiveness

September 17, 2012

Have you figured out what your life’s all about? Its purpose?

Maybe you don’t believe we have a purpose here.
I can’t say that I always believed that we had one, or even thought about it until recent years. 
I was too busy living it.
My spiritual path has been an evolution that I didn’t recognize as I walked it. 
I’m still on it, of course, but the lessons seem more apparent.
Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be, 
that elders really do gain in wisdom.
It seems very clear that most of the key lessons in my life 
have involved forgiveness and letting go.
Sometimes letting go brings something back to me, as it did with M.  
But sometimes it doesn’t. 
Sometimes I’ve had to accept
that I must let go of my attachment to the way I wish things were. 
And that I must forgive.
Marianne Williamson has something to say about that.

 “Until we have seen someone’s darkness, 
we don’t really know who they are.
Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, 
we don’t really know what love is.”

If you’re a peaceable person, and I think most of us are, 
you would rather not encounter someone’s darkness. 
But it seems like the closer we are to someone,
the more they’re able or willing to reveal it.
It’s not very pretty and it can be painful. 
On both sides.
Forgiveness does seem to be tightly linked to love. 
While we might not like what we see,
and we might not even want to be around it, 
forgiveness is  a loving act.
But if someone’s hurt us, how do we get there?  
Here’s how, according to Williamson:

“The way of the miracle-worker 
is to see all human behavior 
as one of two things:
either love, or a call for love.”

The moment I read this, it rang true. 
When people act out, it’s often because they feel unlovable at their core. 
The reason may not be apparent to us;
it may be buried so deeply 
that it isn’t even apparent to him or her.
When we look at people through that filter, 
that their lashing out and acting out
are a result of deep feelings of unworthiness,
 forgiveness is within reach.
That’s been my experience, anyway.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s hard to get over the pain 
when someone close to you hurts you. 
It’s human nature to want to retaliate in kind, or feel put upon.
Really, though, it’s not about us at all. 
It’s about them, their pain and their self-worth. 
Our job is be sure that we take care of ourselves in that scenario. 
That we remove ourselves from the line of fire and that we still find a way to forgive.
Marianne Williamson’s paradigm has helped me do that.
I am estranged from my siblings and have been the target of some serious acting out. 
But, in a message from the other side, my late father affirmed 
that this estrangement was necessary. 
(It’s no accident that my relationship with my father 
was my first chance to practice love and forgiveness.) 
And, a favorite uncle on the other side gave me this message:
I’m so sorry you had to remove yourself from your family to grow, 
but sometimes we have to take care of ourselves. 
This is part of your lesson here, Carol, and you’re doing a great job learning it. 
You stick to it.”
As those close to me know, I’ve done my share of processing 
of my (non-) relationship with my siblings over the past few years. 
How ironic that at one of the happiest points in my life 
I should have to contend with this kind of darkness.
I remember a therapist once telling me to address my issues directly with my father. 
I was in my 20s at the time and I knew that doing that would open a Pandora’s box 
that would have the exact opposite effect–not the one my well-meaning therapist intended.  
Sometimes, the other person is just not ready to hear.
 I’ve railed about the situation with my siblings,
both privately and among loved ones,
but not in a long time. 
Because, I’ve forgiven. 
Because, finally,
I’ve learned to see their darkness as a desperate cry for love.
 And while if I offered love overtly it would be rejected, 
I still offer it up in my prayers and in my heart.
Sometimes, that’s the best we can do. 
The only thing we can do.
Sometimes, it has to be enough.

2 comments on “From the darkness into the light of forgiveness
  1. That post was very deep. Love your blog. I just started following, so I have tons of catching up to do.

  2. thanks, Jennifer, and welcome!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Carol


Here you’ll find my blog, some of my essays, published writing, and my solo performances. There’s also a link to my Etsy shop for healing and grief tools offered through A Healing Spirit.


I love comments, so if something resonates with you in any way, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by–oh, and why not subscribe so you don’t miss a single post?


Subscribe to my Blog

Receive notifications of my new blog posts directly to your email.