FORGIVENESS AND FORGIVING:

CHAPLAIN PAUL G. DURBIN, Ph.D.

(Paul greets Carol at Paul's Workshop "Kissing Frogs: Practical Uses of Hypnotherapy")

(1) Lou Gehrig Strikes Out::

(2) Sandy's Case History:

(3) Boy Who Refused to Eat Prunes:

(4) Forgiveness:

(5) Female Sexual Enhancement:

Guilt is a great destroyer of our health and well being: physical, emotionally, and spiritually. Nothing is more meaningful for the human race than our free will, but perhaps nothing is a greater cause of suffering. When one misuses his/her freedom, he/she feels guilty. Guilt cause suffering because it separates us from God, others, and ourselves. If limits our creativity, diminishes our self-worth, creates self-hatred, and cast a shadow over our lives.

After he murdered the king, Macbeth is frightened. Ghosts lurks in dark hall ways ready to attack him. He hears a voice crying, "Macbeth will sleep no more." Then a knocking and he cries out in terror, "Whence is that knocking? How is it with me every noise appalls? What hands are here? They pluck out mine eyes." He continues, "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean? No this my hand will rather multitudinous seas incarnadine making the green one red."

Lady Macbeth tells her husband to throw off his fears. She appears to be so strong in the face of their evil deed. Her strength leaves her and in the last act her nerves give away. She walks at night in a daze. Her nurse watches her wash her hands again and again as she cries, "Out damned spot!" More washing and "Here's the smell of blood still: All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." Watching from a corner, the physician says, "Foul whisperings are abroad; unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles; infected minds to there deaf pillow will discharge their secrets; more she needs the divine than the physician. God, God forgive us all."

Though guilt is a destroyer of our well-being, it has positive as well as negative qualities. The positive aspect of guilt is that it is to spiritual and emotional health what pain is to physical health. It is a warning that something is wrong and that a change of some kind is necessary for wholeness.

Like physical pain, the intensity of guilt is not necessarily an indication of how serious the wrong may be. For instance, a hangnail may be more painful than certain stages of cancer. The same is true of guilt. Many of us carry throughout our life an unnecessary weight of guilt for relatively small mistakes or even supposed mistakes. On the other hand, the absence of the discomforting feeling of guilt may not be a necessary sign of spiritual and emotional health.

So often unresolved guilt (whether real or imaginary) creates a need to make amends, to make restitution, to suffer enough to pay back the wrong, to set things right by damage to self and thus to balance the account. An accident-prone person may be punishing himself for real or imagined sins. By having a car wreck, cutting his hand, or falling down, the person may be punishing himself. A failure-prone person maybe a failure because she believes subconsciously that she is not worthy of success.

Our guilt which results in a failure to find peace within ourselves is the cause of many of our physical illnesses and injuries. There are many illnesses that come as the results of germs and physical malfunction which are no fault of our own, but there are also a number of illnesses and injuries which results from guilt.

Many physicians are on record as stating that over 50% of our illnesses have their origin in our minds and spirits. In other word: germs, physical malfunction, and unpreventable accidents do not cause half the trouble that comes from guilt, nervous tension, emotional stress, and spiritual unrest. Our disturbing sense of guilt and deep rooted fears play havoc with our health and well-being.

Habitual grudges, resentment, smoldering rage, the war within weakens our body's resistance to disease and/or leads one to carelessness which results in an accident. A recent newspaper article by a medical doctor stated more heart trouble is caused by inner tension, guilt, and resentment than are caused by smoking, drinking, or fatty substances in the blood.

There is an interesting passage in Gone With The Wind at the funeral of General O'Hara. His prospective son-in-law said something like this, "There wasn't nothing that came to him from the outside that could lick him...but he had his failings too, cause he could be licked from the inside."

Bernard de Clairivaux said centuries ago, "Nothing can cause me damage except myself." Remember the words of Cassus to Brutus in Julius Caesar, "The fault, dear Brutes, is not in our stars but in ourselves." These statements and other evidence leads me to believe that there is only two ways to deal with guilt. Guilt, whether real or imaginary must either be forgiven or punished. It is not God who punishes us, but we find a way to punish ourselves. We need to experience God's forgiveness and forgive ourselves.

(1) Lou Gehrig Strikes Out: In New York City, a sport writer was deeply impressed by an incident involving the baseball player Lou Gehrig. In typical sports jargon he wrote that Lou Gehrig came to bat with two out in the ninth inning. The tieing run was on third and the winning run was on second. New York was one run behind and a hit would either tie the score or win the game. The count on Lou Gehrig went to three balls and two strikes. The people in the stands were in an uproar. The pitcher wound up deliberately and the third strike came smoking in straight over the middle of the plate and the umpire shouted, "Strike three!" Lou Gehrig had not moved his bat. Very slowly Lou turned, spoke to the umpire and walked to the bench. At that, the crowd went wild for no one had ever seen Lou Gehrig argue with an umpire. The reporters all piled over the seats and right out onto the field. They swarmed around the umpire. The writer asked, "What did Lou Gehrig say to you? Whatever it was will make the headlines on the sports page." The umpire smiled and yelled to Lou Gehrig to come over. He said to Lou, "Tell the boys what you said to me when I called the third strike on you." Lou looked a little bewildered as he answered, "Mister Ump, I only said, 'I would give ten dollars to have that one back.'"

The reporter was so impressed that when he wrote the story, he added, "There are people all over the world who would give ten dollars or ten thousand dollars to get just one minute back and for the privilege of changing something they said or did in that minute."

One cannot buy change a past mistake, a lost opportunity, a hurting word, but one can experience forgiveness. Yes, forgiveness, if not from the one harmed, at lease from God. With that forgiveness; we can began again, we can be renewed, we can live more abundantly.

I often use the "finger response to therapy" in dealing with many problems. Using this therapy, I have the clients subconscious mind pick out a "yes" finger and a "no" finger. When the subconscious had decided on a "yes" finger and a "no" finger, I ask questions which can be answered "yes" or "no". It is surprising the high percentage of people who raise the "yes" finger to the question, "Are you trying to punish yourself by this behavior (smoking, overweight, phobia reaction, etc.) and to the question, "Is this problem the results of guilt feelings." The individual needs to forgive himself and accept the forgiveness which God has already forgiven.

Most of us are familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-25). The prodigal son expected to be rejected by his father. He prepared a speech requesting that he be accepted as a servant. When the son returned, he was accepted. He was not even able to finish his prepared speech of repentance for the father had already forgiven him. The son was forgiven, but until he returned home, he could not be aware of, or accept, or be made whole by forgiveness. You too can leave the heavy weight of your guilt behind. You are forgiven, now forgive yourself. You have released your guilt though forgiveness now you are free to experience a fuller happier life.

In order to experience wholeness, we must not only accept our forgiveness, but we must forgive those who have harmed us. We need to forgive even when the person who has harmed us does not ask for nor deserves our forgiveness. We need to forgive in order to free ourselves of the power the other person has over us. This especially true of abuse whether it be sexual, emotional, or physical abuse.

The parable of the prodigal son is really the parable of the prodigal sons. The elder son who stayed with the father refused to welcome his younger brother home, refused to forgive him, refused to join the homecoming party. The elder's sons failure to enjoy the brother's party was not the fault of the father. As he welcomed the younger son, the father went out to meet his elder son and invited him to the party. The problem was with the elder son. The older brother was out of fellowship with his brother and his father, he refused to enter the party. He refused to forgive, or to be forgiven and so missed the joy of the party.

(2) Sandy's Case History: Sandy is a 21 year old lady who had been sexually abused by an older brother, who was seven years older than she. She could not be freed until she could forgive him. He had not asked her for forgiveness nor was he visibly sorry for his abuse. The forgiving act of this young lady did not change her brother, but it did change her. It took about seven sessions for her to forgive him, but she was finally able to do so.

Though she was very religious, she believed that God was a very judgmental being. This made it difficult for her to experience forgiveness for the false guilt she felt about her sexual experiences with her brother. After this story, she was able to accept God's forgiveness and forgive herself.

(3) Boy Who Refused to Eat Prunes: While she was in a state of hypnosis, I said that as I listened to your description of your upbringing and early religious training, I am reminded of the mother who served stewed prunes for desert one night for her family. When her son refused to eat his prunes, she said, "God does not like that, God doesn't like little boys who don't eat their prunes. God will be very angry."

In spite of his mother's warning, the boy refused to eat the prunes so she sent him to bed saying, "You have been very bad and God is very angry with you." A short time later he went to bed and a terrible thunderstorm broke out: lightening flashed, thunder roared, the wind whipped rain against the window. The mother thought that the boy would be terribly frightened so she went up to comfort him. When she entered the room, he was standing at the window with his face pressed against the glass, saying, "My, my such a fuss over a few prunes." You have often heard that God was angry with you and so it has been difficult for you to feel forgiven and comfortable with yourself and life. God loves you and forgives you, so now it's time for you to accept that forgiveness and forgive yourself.

During that session she forgave herself but it took about three more sessions before she was ready to forgive her brother.

(4) Forgiveness: Sandy forgiveness is important to your mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. I cannot do this for you, but you can do it. Though I can not do it for you, I can help you allow the forgiveness to be experienced. To help you do this, I would like to lead you through some releasing and forgiving experiences. Is that OK with you? "Yes." (If not OK, ask, "Why?" If client is not willing to do the exercises, respect her wishes. If OK continue:)

There is an old Emmet Fox exercise for dissolving resentment that can be helpful. It may be difficult, but let it happen. As you set quietly with your eyes closed, allow your mind and body to relax even more. Imagine yourself setting in a darkened theater. In front of you on a small stage, is your brother. When you see your brother clearly, visualize good things happening to him. Things that would be meaningful to him. See him smiling and happy. Hold this image for a few minutes, then let it fade away. Add another step. As he leaves the stage, put yourself up there on the stage. See good things happening to you. See yourself smiling and happy. Be aware that the abundance of the Universe is available for you.

Forgiveness is important but for some of us, there is a step that is necessary before we can totally forgive. Sometimes the little kid in us needs to have revenge before it is free to forgive. Setting quiet and peacefully, think of your brother (the person who is hardest to forgive). What would you like to do to him? What does he need to do to get forgiveness? Imagine that happening. Get into the details. How long do you want him to suffer or do penance? When you forgive lift your "yes" finger. As you forgive let it go. Be free of the power your brother has held over you. As you forgive, you are free to enjoy life...

In your imagination, you are setting in a chair on the stage in front of your brother. Now prepare to forgive him even if he does no request forgiveness or deserves forgiveness. Say, "I forgive you brother for the sexual things you did to me as we were growing up." She continued on her own, "I forgive you Robert. In so doing, I release myself from the power that you have had over me. That power made me feel guilty, has prevented me from fully enjoying sex with my husband, and has weakened my self-esteem. I am now free to live my life joyfully." I concluded this session with a script on female sexual enhancement.

(5) Female Sexual Enhancement: You are now ready to experience changes in your sexual experience. You choose to leave all past sexual experiences behind you... You choose to focus your attention on your new sexual expressions... Begin to imagine them now. You are free to be experience sex with your husband and to feel everything you want to feel.

Imagine that you are with your husband... You touch him feeling his excitement. You feel his gentle touch raising your sexual feelings... You are capable to sexual pleasure and your mind and body enjoys the arousing overtures within you. You enjoy being touched and touching your husband... You feel all the pleasure zones of your body and mind growing with excitement. You feel excited when touched and are touching. You are delighted with your sexual arousal. Your breathing increases as you feel more and more exciting sexual stimulation.

Your pleasure is satisfying as it continues to ascent, feeling you with enjoyment. Your relationship develops mutual satisfaction. You feel the tender and gentle touch of your husband bringing you to new heights of arousal. Your pleasure mounts higher and higher... Your body responds with tingling sensations.

You feel your oneness, your togetherness, your connecting intimacy as your pleasure mounts... Your closeness assists your increase of pleasure... You feel throbbing stimulation within your body... Your pleasure heightens and you burst forth with excitable orgasmic pleasure as your husband responds joyfully. Your climax increases and you feel totally satisfied... You feel so good as you have responded naturally and beautifully to your sexual experience which enhances your husband's pleasure also... You enjoy your new, more enjoyable, more sexually active life... It is good and you deserve it.

Sandy lives a much happier life and responds joyfully during sexual relations with her husband. In a summary on forgiveness, Dr. Louis Bauer said, "Forgiveness is an act of the will not of feeling, but the good feeling will follow as a by-product. It is in forgiving and being forgiven that we have the key which unlocks the door to wholeness." Dr. Maxwell Maltz concluded his book, Creative Living For Today with this statement, " Drink in the sweetness of forgiveness: of yourself and others. You must forgive a parent, a friend, a loved one, for the errors of the past. Forgive the hurt they caused you. Forgive it by loving in the present... Now."