Beneath our emotional wounds and hidden resentments, our unconscious fears and insecurities, our human neediness and addictions, we are all loved deeply and unconditionally. In turn, this means we each each carry within us the capacity to love others deeply, unconditionally and fearlessly.
We are loved -- and so, we are capable of loving others.
There are some who resist this assertion that everyone has "the Beloved" in him or her. They wonder about that person who has wronged or harmed them, or the community, in profound ways. What if someone betrayed sacred trusts, was dishonest, committed acts of cruelty, malice or violence? What then? Can these people truly be Beloved?
There are also people who are self-defined victims or "injustice-collectors," who attempt to guilt others into conforming to their ideas. Are these people Beloved, too? I talk in my book about the sad and vindictive ex-wife who lies constantly, manipulates her child, and seeks to destroy the life of her ex-husband. There are indeed those who have experienced pain and cause pain in others, those who do not seem to be Beloved or to be capable of much love themselves.
Do these people really have a core of goodness within them that they and others can access?
How can we "forgive" and move beyond the havoc, stress, pain and suffering people like this bring into our lives? How can forgiveness of people who've committed heinous crimes be achieved and why is this beneficial?
It Starts With Us
There is good in everyone. And we have to start with ourselves. What habits will each of us practice to keep us aware of our own sense of goodness?
Forgiveness is one of the most potent habits for increased awareness of the goodness pulsating at our own center. When we are able to forgive those who have wronged us, we free ourselves from the shackles of bitterness and anger.
This is the part of the Habit of Forgiveness that most people don't quite understand: it's not for the benefit of the person who has hurt us, rather, it is for our benefit. Carrying hostility and malice within us ultimately only hurts us and over time hides our own powers of creative transformation from us.
I was so moved by the story of the elderly black South African woman whose husband and son were tortured and killed by a white policeman. During a Truth & Reconciliation Commission hearing, she was asked what kind of justice she sought. She answered, "Twice a month, I would like for him to come to the ghetto and spend a day with me so I can be a mother to him."
Reading this, I lost my breath. Seeing this "monster" as a human being who, though guided by fear and hatred, was infused with the potential for love, helped heal this mother's pain.
Love Is The Summit
Sometimes we have to take baby steps and just acknowledge that we wish we could forgive, even if Forgiveness seems impossible.
It is important to come to Stillness, and then imagine the person who has wronged us being bathed in the light of the Beloved. This is most likely very challenging for many of us. But with practice, it will loosen the feelings of fear and resentment that are locked inside us until finally they evaporate.
Affirmations help, too. And of course, we must remember that Forgiveness does not mean we are committing to a renewed relationship with this person -- it simply means we have let go of those corrosive feelings of bitterness and free ourselves to live again with love as our guiding force.
When love is the summit toward which we are headed, fear is our biggest obstacle. Yet when we open our hearts to love, we are at the same time opening our minds and choosing love over fear as a guiding force.
And here we are, back to the recognition of the goodness in our own core. No matter how many inspiring texts, stories, lectures or sermons we receive, none is as inspiring as discovering the richness of love in our core. The 8 Habits of Love outlined in my book help us access that core of love and power within each one of us, and then in turn help us release the power of love onto and within others, too.
In every concentric circle of human interaction, we can be instruments of bringing people together instead of drawing lines of enmity to separate us.