Transforming the Scary Stuff: Forgiving the Past

As long as you have children, I don’t think you’ll ever be done with Halloween. At least, not if you have my children. They always love to dress up, to pretend, and be very theatrical. When they were younger they weren’t too into the real scary stuff because I never let them experience any of it! Even the original Toy Story movie had a moment or two I wish they hadn’t seen. They’re 19 and 22 now; my son loves horror movies and my daughter’s favorite television show is Supernatural. (Sigh, I did my best.)

So every October my thoughts turn to Halloween and scary things. This whole year we’ve talked about transformation and that’s something that can be scary if we let it. It involves a lot of changes (scary!) and moving ahead into uncharted territory (horrifying!). But it isn’t the vampires and ghosts that will get you. There are things way scarier than that. Like our pasts. How much time have we spent trying to outrun them? Trying to overcome them? Trying to become the different/better/whole people that our pasts have challenged us in doing? Hard, hard stuff to deal with!

Or like our belief systems that we know are so creative. What exactly are we believing? How did they get so messed up? (Beliefs like we’re not good enough, smart enough, rich enough, loveable enough, enough, enough..?) How do we even dredge them up, uncover them, and discover what they are? And then change them? Hard stuff!

How about this economy?? Scary enough for you? How do we get past the seemingly “set in stone” principles of the economy that can bind you and limit you no matter what you do? It just feels like you have no power and that is really hard stuff!

Or what about something truly scary?: forgiveness. Most of us have some things that have hurt us (or as my children used to intone dramatically: “scarred for life”). Some of us have even had truly horrible, traumatic treatment at the hands of people who should have loved us and been havens of trust. We’ve grown up limited in our abilities to enjoy life, to create or accept good, to express who we truly are, those beautiful beings of light that we were always intended to be. It wasn’t right and it wasn’t fair and it was extremely hard.

How do we forgive that? Why would we? Should we? Can we? What would be the reward? The first thing to realize is that the reward comes to you, not to that other person. That other person may not even be alive any more or they may not be aware of what they did or willing to take any responsibility. It doesn’t matter. The reward comes to you. And it’s worth the effort. Another part of the hard stuff.

But remember how you felt when you came out of that dark movie theater after having the pants scared off you to find it’s really a beautiful day? Or how you felt once you got back on solid ground from that terrifying roller coaster ride? There was an exhilaration about it, a feeling that it was good to be alive, a feeling that you could take anything on and triumph over it. That’s how the hard stuff in life serves us; that’s how the hard stuff becomes the good stuff. Rev. Marcia Sutton tells us that what you can accept, you can change, and what you can bless, you can change for good.

It’s worth facing the fears, just for the exhilarating relief of seeing that monster in the corner turn back into a coat rack. Then your “monsters” can become useful and can serve you in your transformation. – Love, Rev. Mary

About Woodland Chapel Salem

We promote a spirit-centered life by teaching principles that enable us to experience the love, peace, wholeness, and abundance that is only possible through a relationship with God.
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