The Freedom of Forgiveness

Recently, I received some unexpected news that was going to have a significant impact on my quality of life.  My first reaction felt strange.   
There was a big gap in place of the expectation of how things were supposed to be which I didn't quite understand. 

A friend gave me a tiny piece of paper with this inscription: I forgive you for not being the way I wanted you to be.  I forgive you and I set you free.  She thought it might help me understand what was going on.

What really caught my attention was the last sentence, 'I forgive you and I set you free'. For while my friend was encouraging me to forgive, she also was encouraging me to not give up and make sure I stood up for myself.

So what did it mean to set this other person free?  I could acknowledge the expectations I had of what was the right thing to do had rarely been the same as the way this other person saw it.  Still I hadn't allowed myself to think too much about how my expectations of how to deal with those differences were limiting her and myself. I kept trying to make things work, she did not.  We were at a stale mate.

Forgiveness is Acceptance

Over time I've learned that forgiveness (aka acceptance) is the way to be free of grieving the disappointment of having expectations.  The most important part of any expectation is to include the possibility of things being different.  

It's not that we should expect to be disappointed, but to allow for change, because resistance to those inevitable differences comes with its fair share of grief.  It's not that we should forget but learn from our mistakes as well as successes, and develop new goals for ensuring our well-being. It's not that we then become subject to the expectations of others, but free to change the game plan by and for ourselves. 

Remembering to allow for change helps expectations be goals rather than disappointments; and each turn of event another step toward personal growth and development rather than a set-back. Sometimes things do feel permanent and irreversible, that's probably the most important time to allow for change...but also not expect it.   

When in Doubt, Look Within

There's really nothing we can do outside the sphere of own experience to change or affect the exterior world.  In truth, the world we see is just that.  So when it doesn't appear to be working right, it's time to change how we see and imagine things to be.

The Circle of Fire Prayer written by Miguel Ruiz, is a beautiful intention to live in harmony with others and all of creation, and it specifically states: with no expectations.  Apparently despite your best intentions, things don't always turn out as planned...who knew!?

I knew expectations were just stories we create to express why things should happen in a certain way. I also knew expectations could become disappointments due to differences with the story of another. Knowing that, I should have known better, but I still had plenty of both expectations and disappointments.

All things being as they are, I know what my next steps will be, and that is to always do my best, be impeccable with my word, don't take anything personally, and not make assumptions (expectations without the possibility of change).  

If living the Four Agreements is my goal, I will never be disappointed because as don Miguel is quick to point out in explaining these four little phrases, you need to accept that your best will be different from day to day and that's where forgiveness comes in again!  If I read that little paper to myself, rather than someone else, it takes on new meaning and I have all the freedom in the world!