Grieving, acceptance and finally forgiveness

So I think I’ve reached the height of my anger about my past and am rather sick of my depressing rants about my family and extreme religious beliefs. (You’re probably getting sick of my rants as well!)

I’ve made a choice – I am moving on.

There are supposedly 5 stages to the grieving process: Denial, Anger/Resentment, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance. Much of my life over the last year has seemed stuck on auto-replay through Anger/Resentment, Bargaining and Depression. I have grieved the loss of my religion which shaped my entire life; the loss of South Africa and a place that was so filled with hardships as well as great joy; the loss of a dear friend; and more than anything the loss of the person I was when I used to live in the U.S. Yes, those were losses and they’ve been hard, traumatic, and have felt unbearable at times, but it’s time to let go – it’s time for acceptance.

The timing is perfect because there is a newness to so many things around me right now. I have recently started a new job (hooray!) that is the perfect fit in terms of lifestyle and content that focuses on healthy living and even  spirituality. I love the diversity of the content I am surrounded by in my work. I am being challenged into living a conscious, awakened life – something I’ve aspired to and have been drawn to but haven’t had much time for in the midst of my holding pattern of so much emotional turmoil and grief. (I wonder if that grieving, however, was part of the process of making room for this new way of thinking and living to have space to take root.)

I am very aware that it’s easy to repeat old patterns of behavior when we think that something new will change everything. In this work space I have new intentions in the way I handle my professional life. But it’s much more than that, I realize that my dreams for the way I want to live are not going to happen because I changed countries. There is a very big part of this transition time that requires I transition and work on my inner life first. And while I have been battling it out and wrestling for awhile the time has come to find some peace and acceptance with the things I can’t change and work on those that I can.

When I say that I am going to be working on acceptance, it doesn’t mean I am ok with the way things are. It just means I need to start accepting, most especially, the people around me that I tend to continually feel anger and frustration towards. It’s really not doing me, nor them, any good. If I want to start honoring myself and finding genuine love and peace within I need to work on forgiveness.

In her book A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson makes a convincing and moving case for forgiveness:

It’s easy to forgive people who have never done anything to make us angry. People who do make us angry, however, are our most important teachers. They indicate the limits to our capacity for forgiveness… God doesn’t need us to police the universe. Shaking our finger at someone doesn’t help them change. If anything, our perception of someone’s guilt only keeps them stuck in it… Treating someone with compassion and forgiveness is much more likely to elicit a healed response. People are less likely to be defensive, and more likely to be open to correction.

Forgiveness is the choice to see people as they are now. By bringing the past into the present, we create a future just like the past. By letting the past go, we make room for miracles.

I am pretty sure Marianne wrote those lines specifically for me.

My prayer right now is this: to find the space to love genuinely and engage peacefully with those that I completely disagree with. This would be marked by getting to a place where I can make it through a conversation with someone I don’t agree with (ie: my dad, my uncle, a republican) and not dwell, worry, nor be plagued by anger or I-should-have-said’s for several days. That would be  a miracle!

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