Another Look at Forgiveness
By Ken Davila
When my kids were younger they would often fight, so I would naturally intercede and break things up.
If one was wronged I would “make” the other apologize. I would often hear the most insincere apologies
you would ever hear. It would bring a chuckle when they were not looking. Today I would like to take
another look at forgiveness and how important it is for recovery.
When one hears the word “forgive” in drug and alcohol treatment,
it is not uncommon to dig in one’s heels and get resistant.
After all, too many of us have experienced hardships and trauma in life and forgiving
is the last thing we want to talk about. So how do we approach forgiveness in a way that makes it possible
for us to move past the pain and into recovery?
To start with, let’s consider the spiritual need for our own forgiveness. Addiction allows us to hold on to
a lot of guilt and shame. After all, it does help to keep the addiction alive does it not? Our own guilt
becomes a heavy burden to carry but our fifth step enables us to find that forgiveness. The peace we feel
enables us to forgive ourselves.
It helps us to heal from the inside out. We trust in the absolution from God and relish in the freedom.
Steps eight and nine
help us to garner forgiveness from others as we make our amends. That’s ok because
that is how the steps are designed to work.
But there is a deeper aspect to forgiveness we need to examine. The former idea seeks forgiveness but the
more challenging aspect is when we give forgiveness. Admittedly this one is the most difficult but just as
vital as the former. Let me be honest though, sometimes we are wronged by people through no fault of our own,
but the need to forgive still stands. Consider it this way - when we don’t forgive a wrong, we are choosing
to hold onto that resentment. When we choose that, we are setting up our next relapse.
Sometimes people hold on because it gives them the sense that someone else is wrong in a world of their own
wrongs. The guilt we have will be alleviated temporarily if we can point to other’s wrongs instead of our own.
It’s a classic bait and switch.
Don’t get me wrong however, I am a realist. I know there are some who are not ready to forgive but maybe realize
they need to. To them I would suggest asking God for help in this area. A prayer asking God to forgive them for
you may help. Using the God box or taking the Big Book challenge to pray for them can help also.
Remember forgiveness is not so much about absolution of the other, as much as it is about getting the monkey off
your back. It’s about removing the burdens from you and giving them to God. It’s about taking power away from
those who hurt you. It’s about taking back your life from your past, so your future recovery can have a chance.
Some may think forgiveness means you have to interact with the offender as if nothing happened, but that is not
always true. It may happen but that’s up to you. If not, it’s an opportunity to establish some healthy
boundaries so it does not happen again. Forgiveness does not make you a door mat. Forgiveness, dear reader,
is not a weakness but one of the most powerful things you can do. When you get to that place you are making
the choice for recovery. It is in your arsenal and can be used to fight your addiction. Take it out and dust
it off today. Start small, pray for God’s grace and see what happens to your spiritual life and recovery.
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