The Gift of Forgiveness
by Catlin Landriault
Over the course of the last four years, I’ve been collecting lessons and quotes from A Course in Miracles (ACIM/The Course) and other resources, not really knowing why, just writing them down on different pieces of paper and storing them in all sorts of forgotten places. Who knew it would lead me to my greatest learning so far. The Universe works in mysterious ways, indeed.
Forgiveness from an ACIM perspective is not the same as what I had grown up believing it to be. I grew up believing that you forgave by overlooking something that you believe actually happened and by doing so I would see the error that someone has made and attempt to overlook and forget about it. In Course-based forgiveness, we are asked to recognize that it is our thoughts about the situation that we need to forgive: what we made up about ourselves. “I have given everything I see all the meaning it has for me” (Workbook Lesson 2). We give everything the meaning it has for us, therefore it is our interpretation of any situation that needs to be released. So, it’s all about having a “little willingness” to look at our unconscious, limiting thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in order to release them. Easier said then done, right? Well, I hear you. By holding on to my old beliefs, I was proving to myself that what I made up about myself was true. I’m right. That was the pay off. I got to be right. While studying at the Clearmind Institute in Vancouver, I’ve often heard this: “Would you rather be right, or at peace?” And by me choosing to be right, I was definitely not getting any peace.
The Course states that “Forgiveness is the key to happiness” (Workbook Lesson 122) and “Forgiveness ends all suffering and loss” (Workbook Lesson 249). I believe these statements to be true. But, before I could understand them, I first needed to understand that “I am never upset for the reason I think” (Workbook Lesson 5). This lesson changed my life, for much of my life has been spent being angry with everyone and everything, including myself. I’ve since learned that our current upsets are simply our old thoughts and memories that are stored deep in the “basement” of our ego mind. And it is through releasing them that I can choose a life of peace, happiness, and joy instead of suffering.
“I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt” (Workbook Lesson 284). My greatest learning from the Clearmind International Institute’s PRAC for Life Counsellor’s Training was that “choice” is the most powerful tool we have. The power to choose determines the world we see, what glasses we choose to wear, and the relationships we have, and the success we experience. My thoughts, my beliefs, my feelings, and my behaviour are all the result of the choices I make. This lesson has allowed me to continue to make better choices in my life. If it is true that “We are Spiritual beings having a Human experience” (as Wayne Dyer says), then whatever happened or happens to us in our lives on a form level can’t actually hurt us anyway. It is not to say that the behaviour or event didn’t happen, but what we believed about ourselves as a result of it did not. Our true self, our spirit, was never hurt or damaged or wounded in any way.
“The childhood of your body, and it’s place of shelter are a memory now so distorted that you merely hold a picture of a past that never happened” (Workbook Lesson 182). This comforts me. I’d love to say that my lessons in forgiveness are complete… far from it. I feel I have only touched on a portion of the idea of what it means to forgive. Fear has taught me much. It has kept me safe and hidden from the proverbial monsters in the dark. Fight or flight, that was my motto. Either way, I wasn’t connecting to my essence, my spirit. If it’s true that fear has created everything I see and the opposite of fear is love, then Workbook Lesson 130—“It is impossible to see two worlds”—makes my choice pretty clear as to what glasses I want to wear!
Now, I take a moment in my day to check in with myself… self referencing. And the biggest “AHA” moment for me is in relationship. I’d finally forgiven myself, which in turn allowed me to be more forgiving of others. For the first time in twenty years, I have a relationship with my dad and he has not changed at all. What I made up about him has changed, what I made about myself in my relationship with him has changed, and this has opened up a pathway of love that is ineffable to describe. You see, I finally understood that if I am waiting for others to change in order to be happy, I’d be waiting a long time! So, I was allowing my dad to be himself, allowing me to be me, and therefore both of us being able to love each other in spite of our faults or differences. It is about two people doing the best they can and it’s not about him and it’s not about me… it was what was happening between us that needed to change, which I know I have the ability to do any time.
We all have choices. Which choice will you pick when triggered, the need to be at peace or the need to be right?
Catlin Landriault is a Professional Counsellor with the Canadian Professional Counsellor’s Association, a group facilitator, and educator. She received her training from Clearmind International Institute in Vancouver, BC. Catlin will be co-facilitating a workshop called From Fear to Love: A Women’s Healing Journey on Sept. 14-16 at Ravenheart Farms near Kamsack, SK. For more information, see the display ad on the back cover of the 18.3 September/October issue of the WHOLifE Journal and/or call Carol at (306) 542-3557 or
email: email@example.com or visit www.ravenheartfarms.com.