“We each carry a certain amount of pain from our very birth. If that pain is not healed and transformed, it actually increases as we grow older, and we transmit it to people around us. We can become violent in our attitudes, gestures, words, and actions. “ Richard Rohr from, The Inner Witness.
This statement makes sense, and it is the reason why it is so important to forgive those who hurt us, not so much for their benefit as for our own. After enduring seven years of abuse from my ex-husband, I often reacted with anger when I felt threatened, natural under the circumstances, but certainly not healthy.
Through numerous counseling sessions, I worked through the pain, the fear, and the anger. Then, my counselor dropped a bomb. Forgiving was the next step. I tried, struggling on my own until God showed me how in a vision. He transposed His face over my ex-husband. Immediately, my anger dissipated. I felt weightless and joyful. Colors seemed brighter, no longer tinged with the grey of depression or inflamed with anger.
Forgiving didn’t mean forgetting, or staying in the abusive relationship, it meant not hating him, not holding the pain in my heart and projecting it onto others.
Richard Rhor’s statement explains the trend in our society to be judgmental and hateful to anyone we disagree with. If we already carry pain inside, and life adds more, then we become overburdened and lash out.
We can’t fix others, but by healing our pain, altering our reactions to the violent attacks of others, not replying in kind, or nursing resentment, we can make a difference. The ripple effect would encapsulate our families, our workplaces, our communities and eventually spread out to cover the entire world. We would have the tools to practice the soft prophecy I wrote about in a previous post.
Gandhi proved none violence can make huge changes, if enough people practice it. But it is so hard to not reply with anger when attacked, especially if that attack is not justified. The angry comments on a social site, the rude driver, the ill-mannered woman in the checkout line, try our patience. Even though we may not openly react, we often seethe for hours, sometimes days after the event. It festers, limiting our tolerance in other situations. If we add in major crises and trauma, our tolerance collapses.
If we follow the example in my vision, seeing God in everyone, perhaps we can be more compassionate. It would be a start. After all, Jesus initially called only twelve disciples, and through their faith, they changed the world.