Finding forgiveness

Joey Garcia

How do you forgive a husband who had an affair? It wasn’t a very long affair and he cut it off right after he told me about it. This happened some months ago, but I have not been able to forgive him. I need some tools to get back to normal. Please help.

A wise person once said that forgiveness is both a choice and a process. You have chosen to forgive your husband. Now, you must take up your pickax and break the boulders that betrayal erected around your heart, reducing their power until they are nothing but a memory. But before you give yourself to hard labor be sure of the reason: forgive because you want a resolution for the thoughts and feelings that now inhabit you; forgive because you would want to be forgiven; forgive because you told the truth when you said “for better or for worse.” Most of all, forgive because you want nothing standing between you and God. As the Koran says, “A kind speech and forgiveness is better than alms followed by injury.”

There are several toolboxes that can assist you in building the internal infrastructure necessary to contain forgiveness. Here’s one from The Art of Forgiveness by Lewis B. Smedes: 1. Rediscover the humanity of the person who hurt you. 2. Surrender the urge to get even. 3. Revise your feelings toward the person.

If that system doesn’t appeal to you, try the REACH method: 1. Recall the hurt. 2. Empathize with the person who hurt you. 3. Give an altruistic gift of forgiveness. 4. Commit yourself to forgiveness aloud or on paper. 5. Hold to forgiveness.

One last thing: don’t count on your relationship going back to normal. Instead, go forward from here; wiser about what may have occurred in the marriage that supported your husband’s betrayal and about what caused his delay in telling you. And, although you did commit “for better or for worse,” there are three good reasons to end any relationship: adultery, abuse and addiction. A couple can experience any of these one time and repair their trust, but serial adultery (more than once) or chronic patterns of abuse or addiction are sane reasons to end a marriage.

I am so sensitive to people and their energy that I am overwhelmed in crowded places like restaurants and parks. Often, I don’t want to go out or I’m really selective about where to eat and hang out. Something about this seems natural, but it also seems overwhelming. Any ideas?

It’s normal to choose environments that support you in feeling good about being alive. And being aware that another level of reality exists beyond the five senses is so natural that physicists acknowledge it. So perhaps the feeling of being overwhelmed is simply a temporary phrase designed to ease you into the reality that we are all composed of moving molecules of energy. If you believe that you are picking up on other people’s feelings, check in with yourself to ensure that you aren’t simply projecting disowned feelings of your own. It’s easy to do, but it will restrain you from reaching that other level of reality, consciousness.

If you find your list of cool places reducing prohibitively, consult a professional therapist. Ultimately an emotionally and spiritually healthy person is comfortable everywhere, although they may have strong preferences, especially for quieter, more contemplative environments. After all, the world is your home and you should be comfortable anywhere in it.

Meditation of the week
I’ve entered the pilgrimage known as Lent, 40 days to consciously release anything that keeps me from union with God. I’m surrendering a few beliefs that have outgrown their usefulness. What can you shed to be more attractive to the Divine?

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