The ability to give and receive forgiveness is a superpower we all have. I haven’t always appreciated this. For most of my life, I believed in repentance and atonement as essential for salvation. Of course, this isn't mutually exclusive with individual power to forgive, but abandoning these and certain other religious beliefs in 2012 made me take more accountability for myself. It also fleshed out my understanding of forgiveness.
(In sharing, I have no desire to offend, alienate or judge anyone who feels differently. Each of us has the privilege and responsibility of discerning what resonates. This is just part of my personal evolution, and I want to be honest with you.)
Stepping outside the belief system I grew up in was simultaneously liberating and unsettling. Without an external source directing me, I felt raw, vulnerable, unsure what I could trust. I was very fortunate to journey alongside—and not in opposition to—close family members who were also navigating this new terrain.
One of the practices that helped me through this transition was reading near death experiences or NDEs. These are personal accounts from people who crossed over into the spirit world, temporarily “leaving” their bodies behind and returning with intact memories of their time on the other side.
Through these stories, I gathered evidence that my pure, eternal state of being is love. Nothing can mar that or sever my connection to God/Source, and no one is waiting to condemn or judge me on the other side. Rather, life provides opportunities to experience and learn about love in all its forms. This proved to be fertile soil, both nourishing and grounding, in which to plant myself.
I also explored the concept of past lives and found it compelling as a natural extension of these ideas. All of this resonated deeply and empowered me. (If you’re curious, check out my Resources page for book ideas.)
None of this is to suggest our choices in this lifetime are inconsequential or that we should let other people hurt us. Far from it. But from this knowing of myself as love, it’s become easier for me to engage in forgiveness as an action and feel its true impact.
Below are some experiences that have helped me understand it better.
1. Everyone Experiences Both Sides of the Forgiveness Equation
Last fall I learned about forgiveness as a literal energy exchange. It felt like the spirit world wanted my attention, like a knock on the door. When I meditated and opened myself up, I received a strong impression of a traumatic event that I believe happened to me in another life. It felt important that I forgive the other person. I struggled with it at first, but ultimately I was able to authentically release a forgiveness energy from my heart space.
Then something amazing happened. I felt the other person’s apology had been hanging out in the ethers waiting for me to do this. When my forgiveness and his apology found each other, the cycle was complete. We were both released, cleared, healed.
Almost immediately I went into another vision that I believe was from the same past lifetime. This was so much worse because I was the person hurting someone else, perpetuating the cycle of pain inflicted upon me. It was awful. But when I sent my heartfelt apology into the ethers, it too synced up with the forgiveness energy from the other person!
If I hadn't just experienced this in reverse, it would have been so much harder for me to believe the forgiveness I received was real and intentional and powerful.
2. The Gift in Letting It Go
Earlier this year, something happened that made me furious—in my mind the other person was completely at fault, and I had done nothing wrong. I could feel the huge weight of anger on my heart chakra. Releasing it felt impossible.
When I meditated, I saw an ox sitting on my chest. He got up when I asked, but he said he couldn't pull the anger off me because I was holding it too tightly, like a magnet.
It took a long time before I was able to allow love memories involving the other person to start dissolving the hold between me and the anger. When I saw the ox in the distance, pulling away the anger, I asked angels to further dissolve it and cut any cords so that neither the ox nor I would have the burden anymore.
I felt the angels did as I asked, but there was still a gaping wound or shadow in my chest. I kept hearing the name of a stone with seraphim in it that was offering to help heal me. I later identified it as seraphinite, a gorgeous green stone with feather-light markings that resemble angel wings.
As a thank you, I offered the seraphinite energy a cherished childhood memory of sitting between trees and a brook and feeling peaceful. Then another amazing thing happened!
I felt like the seraphinite went into my body, to live at my breastbone. It conveyed that my hard-won willingness to release the anger weight means it can be at home in me now and help deflect anger going forward. It’s a sphere, and it’s spinning. I can’t always feel it as clearly as I did that day, but I’m grateful for its help.
This experience drove home that holding onto anger hurts me more than the other person, no matter how justified I might feel. It also showed me that forgiveness is as much a gift to myself as the other person.
3. The Instant Power in Forgiving Yourself
More recently, a couple of seemingly innocuous comments hurt me. In my mind, I accused the other person of not giving me the benefit of the doubt and not having compassion for my feelings. This imaginary conversation quickly revealed, however, that the other person could just as easily say the same to me.
Even so, I was still upset. Instead of a delayed passive-aggressive blow-up, I went inside to figure out why. (That statement makes it sound easy-peasy. It wasn’t.) It gradually became clear that the comments triggered my own feelings of guilt and shame and inadequacy. I was stewing in a fog of self-loathing.
When I sought guidance from my higher self (defined here for the sake of simplicity as the eternal part of me), I got this answer: “You can shift out of this anytime you want. You just have to forgive yourself.”
Why does something so simple have to be so hard?!
Well, it doesn’t. And that’s what I needed to see. The more I adopted and moved into the power of my own forgiveness, the easier it became.
That same afternoon I decided to pull cards about the experience from a new deck I’m currently developing on navigating relationships from your heart space—whether romantic, friendship, familial, internal, spatial, etc. The deck has two sets of cards. The first set identifies individual issues while the second set involves the relationship between the two parties or ideas.
The relationship I focused on for this spread was between me and my higher self. You can see from the picture above how validating it was!
The far left card “Receive” represents the issue I needed to work through. It counsels me to say to my higher self: “I open my heart to the gifts you offer me.” In other words, to trust my higher self’s advice. The far right card “Reinvent” represents my higher self, which is saying to me, “I am free to grow and change.” In other words, I have the power to step out of my self-imposed prison.
In the middle, the relationship card is “Forgive.” It represents the best way to move forward in my relationship with my higher self: “We release the past together.” This powerful confirmation helped me shift the last remnants of fog.
(High five, higher self!)
Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this. I'd love to hear about your experiences with forgiveness if you feel like sharing. If you know me in real life, you know I love to synthesize and process varied bits of information to see the patterns!
Lastly, I really appreciate everyone who's reading and commenting or messaging me. It means a lot to connect with you, and I'm sending love your way.