This Week's Sunday Message

Choosing Forgiveness

Reverend Arlyn Macdonald Picture

Our Creator gave us the gift of choice. Learning to make appropriate choices is part of our education to become better creators of our lives. We were born to create and to use that ability to create the highest and best life we can. The way we do that is through our choices. For some people making a choice is easy, for others it is more difficult, especially if they feel unsure about which choice to make. For others, the ability to make any choice is sometimes paralyzing.

But we can't help using this ability to choose. We do it from the moment we wake up in the morning to the time we go to bed and even in the middle of the night. Should we open our eyes, should we get up or sleep a little longer, what clothes should we wear today, what should we eat, what time should we do this or that, who will we meet, what will we think and say and do? All of this is choice and it molds our lives every moment, so it is critical to learn to make good choices. Most of the time we are not aware that we are making choices and it becomes automatic, like a habit, and it is not always mindful.

Part of our education for making choices is to learn how to think about the consequences of our choices before taking action. Parents now realize how important learning to make good choices is for the children and for themselves as well. It takes training and practice, but most of us haven't had the opportunity growing up to learn how to make good choices.

The Hawaiians made it easy to learn how to make good choices. If your choice hurt yourself or someone else – it was not a good choice. When you think about choices and the guidelines we have accepted about making choices, such as the Ten Commandments and other guidelines from other spiritual paths, we can see that they all follow the "no hurt" premise.

Growing up we were often given false reasons for avoiding certain behaviors that might hurt someone else. My personal favorite in my family is the statement, "What would your Grandmother say?" My Grandmother being the ethical voice of authority in my family. This implied that my Grandmother would be hurt by our inappropriate choices, whether she knew about them or not. I'm sure your family has these sayings too.

The bottom line is that we already know deep within the good choices to make, we just don't always want to make them. And the inner child comes up with some great excuses – "I should think of myself first." "It won't hurt to do it this time." "It doesn't matter in the long run." "I simply don't care." "I deserve it." "I don't know what to do, so I'm going to do nothing."

This morning I want to talk about making a choice to forgive. This is one of the most difficult choices to make, especially if we have felt the pain of hurt. Our inner child is mad and sad and doesn't want to forgive. But moving beyond the anger and sadness is a very important step, especially if the inner self is helped to understand the reasons for forgiveness and encouraged to make the choice and take the action to forgive.

There are two sides to forgiveness. We are to be mindful about not hurting others in thought, word and deed, and to be forgiving when we believe we have been hurt. And when we forgive, we must also forget and release. Henry Ward Beecher says, "I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note—torn in two and burned up so that it never can be shown again."

Taking forgiveness a step further, the perception that we have been hurt is a false one. More than half the time the person we perceive as having hurt us didn't even know they were. The other half of the time, the person could be distracted, feeling angry about something else, or simply not paying attention. In these cases, it is our perception that the other person has hurt us. It's time to do pono for these perceived hurts.

Pono is remembering the Truth. In this case it is remembering that it is only our limited perception and when we live in this perception of hurt we are really hurting ourselves. In pono we say to ourselves, "I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you." Words that are so important for us to remember and to use. "I'm sorry" means I am sorry that I forgot to see the other person as a beloved child of God. "Please forgive me" is said to the inner self and is the key action phrase. "I love you" is the message to the inner self who was feeling hurt to soothe and comfort him or her with love. "Thank you" conveys the gratitude of the mind self for the bond between the mind and heart and gratitude that you are seeing more clearly now.

The few times when deliberate hurt has occurred may take a little more pono to resolve. Sometimes we have to confront the person and stand up for ourselves by saying, "Hey, what you did hurt me." It is always best to explain the hurt in the behavior of the other person rather than blame the person. He or she is still a beloved child of God who may not be aware of how their actions affected you.

Pono, the choice of forgiveness, is a great tool to bring us back into harmony. It doesn't mean that we have to like the behavior of others, but we do have to love them as children of God and as a part of us.

The choice to do the Ho'ponopono ceremony is a very mindful choice because it not only recognizes the importance of personal forgiveness, but also the importance of forgiveness on a grander scale that covers family members and all times. We are all one, so it is important that we help others in forgiveness.

So forgiveness is one of the most important tools in our resource box for creating the highest and best life for ourselves. When we make good choices based on "no hurt," we are learning to create our highest and best life. When we lapse, we can use pono to clear up the misunderstandings and come back into harmony. And we can continue to practice forgiveness by doing the Ho'oponopono ceremony regularly. We don't have to wait for the formal ceremony, we can do it at home whenever we choose. As the knight who guarded the Holy Grail, said to Indiana Jones, "Choose wisely." Think about your choices and then choose the action of no hurt. "I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you." Powerful words to live by. Namaste.