How to Experience the Forgiveness You Deserve to Have

Oct 30, 2020

“I know that when I do something wrong, I’ve been taught that I’ll be forgiven,” said Erik. “I believe it in my head, but I just can’t feel it in my heart. I still feel ‘bad.’ “

Knowing something in our heads does not always translate to feeling it in our hearts, where our emotions live and breathe. This is because we know things in two different ways. One way is conceptual and informational. We know that we are forgiven.

The other way of knowing is experiential. It comes from what we have experienced in relationships. If, for example, a lot of our significant relationships have not been very forgiving and have left us feeling bad or fearful of losing love and acceptance, then that is what our hearts know, even if our heads know differently. The gap between the head and the heart renders us unable to feel what we know to be true.

To close the gap, you have to talk to your heart in its own language, the language of experience. You not only have to learn about forgiveness; you also have to experience it. You do that by bringing your faults out into the light, confessing them to other people who are safe and loving, and then experiencing the love and forgiveness that they offer to you.

One day, I put a friend of mine in a group and told him that I wanted him to talk about his struggle. At first, it was very difficult for him even to think about doing that. Yet he did. As he opened up, the group got teary-eyed and felt compassion for him. He was looking down and could not see the compassion and grace that they had for him. I interrupted him and asked him to look up.

When he did, and saw their loving and compassionate faces, he broke like a reed. He fell forward and just sobbed and sobbed. That day, he came out of the prison of his guilt. He was a new person, and for the first time, he felt the forgiveness he has read and studied about for years. He realized the power of opening up to others and receiving the love that is given to us through other people.

As we confess to each other, and receive the gift of love, that grace through them heals us. That’s when the head and heart come together.