I Shall Be Released

Forgiveness can be a very intense subject of conversation. We’re in the process of restoring beauty to ourselves and eventually finding our way out of the maze and into an open heart, free and clear, released from all encumbrances – ahhhh the thought of it – so we do need to talk about forgiveness.

Do you remember the Bob Dylan song, “I Shall Be Released”? How about if we unfold this conversation alongside his lyrics? ”They say everything can be replaced, yet every distance is not near. So I remember every face of every man who put me here. I see my light come shining from the west unto the east… any day now, any day now, I shall be released.”

Let’s start with the first line:  “They say everything can be replaced, yet every distance is not near.”

Think about forgiveness as a process of replacement. Whether you are the one who needs to be forgiven, or you are the one who needs to forgive, injury can be replaced with something that can heal it or transform it.

I have enjoyed reading Stuart Wilde’s writings for years, so let me quote him: “No matter what you have done you can return to safety, through humility and contrition.” It’s interesting that Stuart talks about a return to safety… safety from what? In one of his writings he refers to the mathematics of the universe and how every injustice is akin to an unresolved equation that eventually must be resolved for the sake of balance and symmetry. “Nothing is ever lost,” he says, “there is a final record of everyone’s life and what they did and so that is how it all works in perfect symmetry.”

We’re speaking about the individual who needs forgiveness, and frankly, don’t we all have at least a few math problems? So the avenue to mitigating the effect of our wrongs would be through humility and contrition… and I would add to that restoration when appropriate.

Now to the next line: “So I remember every face of every man who put me here.”

What can you do if you have been injured? Whether the person who injured you is contrite or not, for yourself, for your own highest good, you need to forgive. Inability to forgive creates a toxic prison within. Remember, we’re going for an open heart, free and clear, released from all encumbrances. Yes, terrible things happen. There are pain stories everywhere and we do know why. You are familiar with the world we’re living in? It’s horribly out of balance… tipping over the edge to insanity. I’m sorry for your pain, I wish it hadn’t happened, but you’re not alone in having suffered… let’s put it that way.

The injury you experienced has to be looked at in the way you’d look at a car that’s been in a wreck. You want to be repaired, so you start examining what works and what doesn’t work. What kind of adaptive behavior did you take on during or after the injury? What did you pull out from within yourself in order to make it through? What do you need to shed now, and what can you mold into new-found strength. With patience and love for self, even traumatic life experiences can be transformed into evolutionary experiences.

Make your experiences into the floor you stand on, not the prison you live in. I know it’s hard. I know that sometimes you begin to rely on the fact that you have been injured, and you feel like you can’t let go of such an important part of yourself. But hey, you were capable of surviving it and now you’re capable of making it work FOR you.

Once you have taken this truth to heart and done the work it’s much easier to forgive. And let me tell you, hanging on to anger and resentment takes a lot of energy. It’s energy that could be used elsewhere – to create something and build. If the person who injured you is not humble and contrite, it’s really on them, isn’t it. Let the math take care of them. Yes, in certain circumstances you may have to require restoration and then let go, but the point is to get out of the prison of your story of pain and see it as an experience that made you into the person you are today.

Now to the final line: “I see my light come shining from the west unto the east… any day now, any day now, I shall be released.”

Isn’t that a wonderful phrase? If there is a “balancing” coming (which there is), and a light shining (which it is), wouldn’t it be best to greet it with an open heart? Wouldn’t it be best to humbly ask forgiveness, or pay back what you took, or accept a sincere apology, or forgive just because it makes you free of resentment and more beautiful?

Right now I’m feeling love for all of you who have suffered… and I personally know so many. I want you to be released as much as I want it for myself. Come then, let’s walk in that direction.

~ Ida Lawrence

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