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The Holiday season is traditionally a season of giving. But what greater gift than giving could there be but for-giving? One of the definitions of the word forgive in Webster’s New World College Dictionary is “To give up resentment against or the desire to punish; stop being angry with; pardon.” Yet, if someone has “wronged” us how can we possibly remove that sense of anger, or desire to punish, when they have created such an effect in us? How can we let go, and move on? Or, what if the person you are asking forgiveness from doesn’t give you the forgiveness that you seek?
Living with an addict and abuser for nearly a decade taught me a lot about forgiveness. Both the act of forgiving someone and seeking forgiveness in yourself. Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean the hurt goes away. Sometimes the apology given is not really an apology at all. And, if the person you seek an amends from is not forthcoming with it, perhaps the greatest gift that you can give is either to forgive them, or forgive yourself and move on, if that is what gives you the most peace. Forgiveness does not equal forgetting. It does not give someone the right to continue to treat you in such a way. Nor does it allow for continuing to treat yourself in such a way. However, it does give you the power to let go and give up that resentment, anger, and the desire to punish, which will otherwise eat away at you to the detriment of your own health, if you don’t put an end to it, one way or another.
As hard as it is, we must learn to forgive ourselves in these situations, perhaps an even harder act than forgiving someone else. Whether you are the person doing the forgiving, or seeking forgiveness, this is probably one of the most important takeaways from such a situation. You can’t control the actions of others, but you can control how you treat yourself. Remove the blame. Remove the self-pity. But above all else, forgive yourself. Only then can you move on and “enlarge your future.”
So, whether you are on the giving end of forgiveness, or the receiving end of forgiveness, this Holiday season, try to give yourself the gift you deserve the most. Forgiveness. Whatever the reason.
And that’s what this issue is about: A Season for Giving or For-giving. Our articles in this issue touch upon a first-person account of addiction and the devastating consequences of actions surrounding this addiction. How do you move on from such a situation? The gift of self-forgiveness, as I’ve started upon here, is looked at in more detail and how we can take steps to practice this. And how do you use prayer? Is it a case of asking? Or listening? Or is it a bit of both?
In closing, I want to say that I was honored to be asked to take over the Editor’s role for the Phoenix Spirit by Aaron and Jen Shepherd. My goal is to continue to bring insight and good editing form to the readers and writers of this wonderful publication, as they have enjoyed for many years under the leadership of past Editor Julia Edelman.
Have a blessed and safe Holiday season.
We’re happy to have Louise Elowen as our new Editor at The Phoenix Spirit, taking over for Julia Edelman (who we’ll greatly miss). You can reach out to her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.