Sacred Assignment — The Mini-Assignments and All-In-Between
Forgiveness is one of those universal needs….. the need to forgive, while also being forgiven. It is a universal call to the edge, where forgiving oneself may be the most challenging act of all.
We all long for an instruction manual, to guide us through life’s turbulent waters… in the case of forgiveness, we are in luck. This thorny subject has inspired a whole collection of ideas, from various sources, both secular and religions, material and spiritual, There are countless mini-assignments, within the Sacred Assignment, that benefit from this canon.
Forgiveness is release. When I forgive someone, I release him/her from the bondage of his/her behavior…. at least, to the extent that it stirs anger, within me. Everything is clearly relative, but assuming the transgression was something which hurt incredibly, but did not leave permanent damage….. this type of forgiveness is not easily offered, but it is definitely doable. I wish them well. Most usually, reconciliation will also take place, and the relationship will be fully restored.
If the misdeed left a scar (emotional or physical) this becomes more of a struggle…. at least, for some. For those who do nurse their wounds, the idea of releasing the perpetrator is unfathomable. In fact, the idea of EVER releasing the perpetrator, or allowing that the aggressive party is a person of dignity and worth, just because s/he exists…. can seem impossible. It is not impossible…. but the pacing, the time required… a much, much longer process….. patience, for all involved.
The mini-assignments, within the Sacred Assignment, offer opportunities for perpetual growth. One of the key growth concepts is rooted in the notion that each of us has tremendous potential. The fulfillment of that potential is somewhat dependent on being surrounded by good will; Abraham Maslow speaks of this in his Hierarchy of Needs. In order to become a self-actualized person (his personal definition of potential fulfillment), several critical components must serve as a foundation. Belonging is one of them; according to him, if one has a sense s/he doesn’t belong, it thwarts ascension to the next level of actualization. Almost in tandem with this need, Maslow states that a healthy self-concept is vital for self-actualization, too. What, though, does any of this have to do with forgiveness?
After the dark deed, forgiveness is the only transportation to the other side, where potential awaits. Beginning with oneself, forgiveness is paramount; if I can’t forgive myself, there is little hope I can move forward. Misdeeds are heavy convoys… they profess to protect and guard, when actually, they obstruct and stunt. There is a misguided comfort in saying to oneself “If I hold onto this, and never forget the pain, I won’t do this to myself, or others…. ever again.” This sounds conscientious….. when really, it’s defeatist. When we hold so tightly, we can’t forgive…. and if we can’t forgive, we’re doomed to repeat an error of judgment. The lesson doesn’t need to be lost; the judgment and pain does.
When looking at forgiving others, many feel that if they extend forgiveness, they’re letting the other person off the hook. They forget about the center of forgiveness, it is a gift to oneself. There is nothing in the forgiveness model which states behaviors must be accepted, tolerated, condoned or approved. On the contrary, healthy forgiveness is quite quick to recognize that a breach occurred, a breach that needs repair. Running away from that blatant fact is missing part of the entire point! However, a breach isn’t a person, it is a thing. So, we, in time, forgive the breach…. and wish the person well.
Now, a word about reconciliation. Many think that forgiveness and reconciliation (restoration of the relationship) are conjoined twins; they are most assuredly not! Forgiveness is a fruit of the spirit…. reconciliation is a material act. One must reconcile with him/herself, because that’s the one “body” who is not going anywhere, anytime soon. Anybody else…. reconciliation is not always necessary… or even advisable. One can forgive another….. in mind, heart and spirit….. without continuing a relationship. Any relationship that circumvents one’s Sacred Assignment…. for any reason…. is probably ill-advised. No guilt over this, no shame…. sometimes, a mini-assignment involves pruning….. with love, tenderness and wishes for all the best.
Levels of forgiveness are easily gauged by what one no longer feels: resentment, vengeful anger, anxiety, unhealthy competitiveness (this includes the “Living a good life is the best revenge” mindset….. this is resentment, turned inside-out), anything negative, concerning the person who wounded. Forgiveness is achieved once that person is no longer bound in your mind and heart, out of your way, so you can pursue the next mini-assignment, within your grand design.
“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem
Earlier this week, a very dear friend sent me an encouraging text : “Wishing you a pocket full of possibilities!”, it read. I loved that……a pocket full of possibilities…….. the imagery alone was staggering.
We each carry a world of potential….. and potential is a huge part of possibility. Seems that things get in the way, though….. fear, obligations, broken promises….. fear…… time constraints, scheduling conflicts, fear….. preconceived notions, dashed expectations, fear…….
Why does fear keep cropping up? Perhaps it is the catalyst for all the other “reasons” possibilities never materialize?
Marianne Williamson claimed in her run-away best seller, A Return to Love, that the only two emotions that are real are love and fear. According to her, all other emotions are off-shoots of these two primal emotional experiences. A Course in Miracles, the spiritual book which motivated Williamson to write, claims that love is our spiritual inheritance, and the opposite of love is fear……. but because love is Divine, it is all that really exists, and cannot be threatened by what isn’t real (illusory). Say that really fast, three times.
After your head stops spinning, try to think about the above in the context of possibilities. What stands in the way of potential, of possibility? Fear……. always fear. “So, did you tell Brian how you really feel?” ” No…. the words wanted out so badly, but I couldn’t seem to get my mouth to cooperate.”
” What is the prognosis? Is there a way to cure this?” “Well……. probably….. maybe…. I don’t really know. Honestly, I’ve decided I’m not going to the doctor. I know what I’m up against, and while there’s a chance I could cure it, or at least manage it…… Meh. The only time they could see me was 12:30, on a Friday. That’s right when my favorite show comes on, right at the end of the week, prime time for a cliff-hanger. I can’t be bothered, thinking about doctor’s appointments, when I might lose track of my favorite plot line!” Don’t point out that DVR services can solve this issue. S/he doesn’t want to hear that.
“How did things go, when you went for the job interview?” ” I felt really good before walking in there, but as I entered the conference room, I saw nine people around the table. That’s eighteen eyes. All looking….. at me. Eighteen ears….. all listening to each word, waiting for me to say something……. ” I won’t even finish that….. because each reader can finish the sentence for him/herself.
The nature of the above scenarios are not so far removed from the excuses we make, even when faced with REALLY important decisions/opportunities. Each person is responding to possibilities with fear. The fear wears a different suit, in each vignette; fear as shyness, fear as denial, fear as intimidation. i deliberately left the last one open, for reader interpretation….. because most of us have some sort of mental device that loves to get really vocal, right as we’re attempting something that is fresh, promising and scary. We allow our inner bully free rein, with no real effort to corral him/her. We shut ourselves off to possibilities……. before we even get started.
Life is filled with a million plus one possibilities, for every living person. Possibility is at the heart of our Sacred Assignment. Shutting down possibilities, willingly or subconsciously, is an Assignment hazard. How often might fear distract one from a crucial mini-assignment, in the bigger, singular grand scheme of one’s Sacred Assignment?
Those who pursue the path of Assignment must have thick skins, stifled inner-bullies and enough love for self to welcome every opportunity that comes his/her way. Sometimes the possibilities involve something dramatic, completely life-changing. Other times, possibilities dwell in the seemingly mundane….. until a sudden burst of insight reveals the real reason why you forgot to pick up salad mix, on the way home from work. There was a specific reason…… and while you may not know the exact reason today….. the seeds could only germinate if you slapped your forehead, as you walked in the front door.
Love verses fear…….. seems reasonable to me. As you start your week, think about how many possibilities lie ahead…. just between 7:00 – 8:00, tomorrow morning. Set your sights on infinite possibility….. fear can chase you, but one who is truly excited about possibility, and Sacred Assignment…. will outpace fear, every time!
Originally published at sacredassignment.wordpress.com.