The night that Hurricane Irma moved through here in south Florida, September 10th, and we had lost power, I sat reading on my kindle by the open window. I read a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer “In Spirit” in which he spoke of forgiveness and Immaculee Ilibagiza, calling her a living Saint. I had previously bought a book by Immaculee, “Left to Tell“, for my kindle but I hadn’t read it yet. I had read some of it earlier after watching “The Power of the Heart”, but this time I was re-introduced to her story of survival through the 1994 Rwandan Genocide through “In Spirit” as I previously mentioned. I must admit here and now that I’m so moved by the story of Immaculee Ilibagiza that every time I say her name my eyes well up with tears.
If you’re not familiar with Immaculee, I suggest you read her story or watch a few videos on YouTube of her talking about it. If you’ve watched the movie, “The Power of the Heart”, her story is there as well. If you haven’t watched the movie, I suggest you do so, not just for Immaculee’s story, but for the beautiful and powerful messages contained in the movie.
Immaculee Ilibagiza was in hiding for 91 days with 7 other women in a tiny little secret bathroom (who has secret bathrooms?!) at a pastor’s home. These women hid for their lives as the Hutu people (9 million pop.) hunted the Tutsi people (1 million) and slaughtered them by the masses with machetes. In the end, 800 thousand Tutsi were murdered, including Immaculee’s mother and father and other members of her family. Immaculee survived and came out weighing 65 pounds! She was 5’9!
I can’t even begin to imagine the utter and sheer horror these women faced daily in a tiny bathroom, where they could not make a sound for fear the people in the house would know of their existence. Horrific. But what touched me the most, and what CHALLENGED me (and still does) is after everything she had to suffer and endure, for 91 days in hiding in a tiny bathroom with 7 other women, unbathed ,and nearly starved, was her resolve to FORGIVE the people, the Hutu people who would have seen her dead if they’d have found her! To FORGIVE the Hutu for killing her parents and other family and so many of her people! To FORGIVE them …
” for they know not what they do.”
In that tiny bathroom, Immaculee learned how to be One with the God she wholeheartedly believes in. She learned to see with and through those eyes to find the power from that FORGIVENESS to move on with her life. I sobbed.
I broke down.
I wept so many tears.
As I read Immaculee’s words, I felt such power moving through me, so much so I clenched my heart. I felt the pain of my own soul crying out. I heard myself asking out loud, “Why do we here have so much hatred for each other?” From today’s issues of White Supremacy to trans-issues (the trans-women who are boldly proclaiming it’s OK to act out violently against women who don’t agree with them!), from religious beliefs to sexual orientation, to class and culture, from gender identification to XXX …
Even deep hatred for our own selves.
The hatred seems to know no bounds in the world today. Especially right here in our hearts. This is where it starts. This is where it can stop. It begins with us taking stock, owning up and understanding this truth.
Inspired by Immaculee Ilibagiza’s story of her survival through the Rwandan genocide and her incredible divine power to transform life through forgiveness, I’ve created for myself a journal called “I Forgive”.
If Immaculee Ilibagiza can forgive the people who MURDERED her own parents, surely I can forgive those experiences and people in my life I feel have “done me wrong”, or hurt me in my past from as far back as I can remember, to those I’ve allowed to hurt me in the present day.
I don’t need to hold that anger, ugliness, and pain in my heart. I am only destroying parts of my own heart and denying myself the happiness, joy, health, wealth, and abundance I rightfully deserve, that all human beings deserve.
I’ve done a lot of personal work and letting go over the years but what I’ve come to understand it’s not a “one-time” deal. We can only let go of so much at one time before it loses its meaning and power to “let go”. We can not say, “I let go and forgive everything ever wronged to me” … no, it’s too vague and lacks the power that forgiveness actually has.
We need to be specific.
That’s the hard part, but once named and written, we CAN Forgive it and let it go.
Dare I say it?
“Yes, we can!”
I was surprised at my first entry:
” I forgive my mom for not being the kind of mother to me everyone else had growing up. I forgive her for being sick and being unable to care for me and raise me. I forgive her for sending me to Ohio to be raised by her mother and father.”
I was shocked that when I put the pen to paper those were the first things to come up for me. I was always so close to my mom when she was alive. But apparently, this was something deep within. It was real. Parts of self, my little girl self, had a voice and those were her words. I ended each section (dealing with a person or event & experience) with:
“My Power to Forgive is not a pardon, nor does it extend excuse to what wrong I perceive was done to me. My Power to Forgive is an acknowledgment that the fate of the condition of my own mind, heart, and soul is in my hands. I recognize that I wield the sword of power to Love or Hate and hold it in my whole being. What I choose transforms the Sword I wield and the state of my being and so I choose Forgiveness. I choose to set myself free. I choose transformation and happiness through the power of Forgiveness which is Love. “
This is what feels right for me.
So far I’ve written up from my childhood to my teen years, my toxic marriage to my abusive ex-husband, Chris, who is, to this day, in total and absolute denial of any wrongdoing on his or his family’s part and blames me for everything as if he wasn’t there and involved at all.
Still, I’ve forgiven him.
And I’m working daily on the part where I send him nothing but love. Right now I send simply nothing but nothing. However, I have forgiven him. I want to get to a place where I can actually send love. Even if he doesn’t know it, I will know it. But that time is not yet.
To be honest, I am sure I will write, “I forgive Chris for xxx” several more times to come as I’m sure I will with many things. But those things once visited will be forgiven, cleansed and never spoken of again.
I’ve written about my children who, as any parent is likely to know, will take you through it as they grow. Although it may be part of their natural process of transitioning from child to teenager, and often through the early ages of adulthood, it can be quite painful and agonizing.
I have forgiven them.
I’ve written about friendships I’ve let go of this year, friendships that weren’t serving my highest purpose at all. One friend whom I called my sister, a priestess I initiated into the mysteries of women and Goddess, seemed to be only a taker. All she did was take from me, never offering anything in return. She learned from me as I offered freely wisdom teachings, spiritual counsel, etc. and she gave nothing in return. Not even the courage to speak up and stand in her truth when she felt something was wrong, but instead cowardly walk away, saying nothing.
I have forgiven her.
I let it go. Moving on into the pure blissful flow.
Because that’s what Forgiveness does.
I allow whatever comes through and up asking for forgiveness. It’s amazing because as I’ve said before, I’ve done so much personal work and “forgiveness” I thought I was done. We’re never done. This is ongoing. This is the “Forgiveness Confessional” and should be done daily or at the very least, weekly. I’ve just recently started to write about myself.
This is tough.
I’m forced to look into the mirror of my soul, the things I am seeing there I do not like. They are ugly, and they are painful. Yet, it’s these very things that I’ve held onto so tightly.
Yet, it’s these very things that I’m holding onto with a death grip as if I can’t let go of them.
But I can. And I will. And I am.
And I will. And I am.
And I am.
I am struggling with it. I feel much resistance to writing certain things that I need forgiveness from my Self for. It’s not for fear if anyone sees, but having to look directly into it, that mirror of my own soul. It’s not about being unable to admit the wrongs I’ve done to other people, which have been plenty. Not that I’m proud of that, but I own it.
For me, it’s admitting what I’ve done to my Self.
Having to sit with a pen to paper and writing out those thoughts, those memories; confessing the horrible sins I’ve done to my own self has been the most difficult. Dealing with simply having to admit my wrong in the first place, the wrong I’ve held onto to punish myself for in a myriad of ways, even unconsciously.
But again I remember I have the Power to Forgive, even myself and most importantly myself! And I’m admitting, I’m writing, and I’m forgiving…
The Power of Forgiveness Isn’t For The Weak
If you say you “can’t forgive xxx” then it’s because you choose not to. Like it or not, it’s that simple.
Remember Immaculee Ilibagiza, who forgave the Hutu people who carried out a mass genocide of her people, the Tutsi in Rwanda. Immaculee found the power to Forgive even those individuals who murdered her family and forced her into hiding in a tiny bathroom 7 other women for 91 days with barely enough room to stand.
It is untrue to say you “can’t forgive” because you can. It’s that you instead “won’t forgive” and willingly choose to hold on to that pain, that anger, that hatred, and allow it to eat pieces of your heart and soul up inside.
You have that right.
You have free will.
No one will take it from you but you’d better own that choice.
If you make the choice to be unforgiving and hold on to your pain, your anger, and your hatred, then you should understand fully that you don’t have the right to blame anyone else for your unhappiness but yourself.
It’s yours by choice.
I would just ask that you really think about the immense power of Forgiveness that is in your hands. You hold it, the Power of it is yours. That Power determines the fate of the condition of your heart, mind, and soul.
May you choose wisely.