On June 18, 2017, Rev. Kelly Hallock spoke to those gathered at the Community Miracles Center Sunday Gathering in San Francisco, California. The following is a lightly edited transcription of that talk.
I titled my talk today "83 Million Can't Be Unimportant." I got that from google.com. I was shocked. I googled just the word "forgiveness." I was wondering what google.com said about forgiveness. It has over 83 million hits on just the word "forgiveness." I was like, "Oh my gosh! This apparently is a big deal!" I was then curious as to how many hits A Course in Miracles has. ACIM has just over 532,000 so it is important! But at least in the global Google internet world, "forgiveness" has about 160 times more hits than A Course in Miracles. I really felt like this was what I should talk about today.
Someone shared with me a different perspective on forgiveness a couple of weeks ago, and this has really changed how I am looking at it. It's changed how I am approaching it. It has changed how I feel about things. I want to share that. I knew I was talking this Sunday so I thought "Ok, that works!" Then Tuesday or Wednesday, I went on amazon.com and ordered my dad's Father's day gift. I sent him his Father's day gift.
Then last night at about 9:00 p.m. I thought tomorrow is Father's Day! I knew I was speaking on Sunday; I knew Father's Day was Sunday, but I hadn't connected them. Then I realized I am speaking on Father's Day! I had a moment where I felt bad because I gotta give a shout out to the dads, "Hi Dads!" I love the dads out there, but I still felt forgiveness was really what I was supposed to talk about today. So that's why you aren't getting a "God is our Father. We love God as our Father" talk today. That was usually what I would have done had I realized it. However for some reason, Spirit just didn't want me to make that connection for today.
So we are going to talk about forgiveness and the 83 million hits that it has on Google. How do you even start with that? I think there are about 20 hits per page. (laughter) How do you go through 83 million? I can't even conceive of how Google counts that. This relates a bit to the last time I spoke. The last time I spoke, the title of that talk was "The Time for Healing is Now." I talked about some of the steps we take in bringing healing into our lives. We look at circumstances differently. We try to see the good in all things. We don't suppress our emotions, but we acknowledge them and allow ourselves to work through them with the help of Holy Spirit.
Then the last thing I said during that talk about healing was that we are to be a channel and conduit for healing. That is where the change came for me regarding forgiveness this past couple of weeks. I have a friend who shared that forgiveness is not something that you do, rather it is something that is done to you. It is a mystical experience that is done to you.
I thought that was an odd concept. I've always thought, "I am going to forgive Rev. Lucas. I am going to forgive Rev. Tedosio. I am going to forgive my sister. I am going to forgive …" (Rev. Lucas and Rev. Tedosio were at service that week – Rev. Kelly has no grievance with them.) It's always something I've thought I did. Yet how often, let's be honest, have we thought we wanted to forgive this person and two years later we are still pissed off. Don't we do that? Or we say "They screwed up. They don't deserve my forgiveness." We all do that. Even on the earthly plane, we don't forgive because we feel bad and we punish ourselves by not forgiving. This way we feel guilty about it because we have some issue we are working with. I have struggled with that a lot over the years. Friends, family, teachers – I look at them and I want to forgive. As much as I said I wanted to forgive, there was a part of me that didn't. Then I go into that cycle where I get mad at myself because I didn't forgive and now I need to forgive myself for not forgiving. (laughter) It gets into those crazy cycles.
This person said to me, "It's not you forgiving. It's a mystical practice, not that you do, but that is done to you." I wondered what the Course said. I've never heard it phrased that way. I wanted to know what A Course in Miracles said about it. I looked it up. It was interesting. I looked up the part in the Course that is titled, "What Is Forgiveness?" It was interesting because I realized it talks about forgiveness in the third person. I had never seen that before. It doesn't say, "when you forgive."
It says in the reading from earlier this morning, "Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you ..." (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.221.1) It doesn't say, "When you forgive, you recognize …" It says "Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin." It also says down a little further, "Do nothing, then, and let forgiveness show you what to do …" Isn't that interesting? "... let forgiveness show you what to do …" (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.221.5) If you are doing the forgiving, how does it show you? It couldn't. A Course In Miracles is talking about forgiveness as if it's a third party. It's a third party outside of yourself. That's an interesting concept!
Think about it! It takes a lot of guilt away. It gets us out of that cycle of needing to forgive ourselves for not forgiving. Now, it's I have this thing out there. It's a tool for me to use. It's a tool for me to bring into my life, but it isn't something I am having to create within myself. It's something that will guide me. It's something that will teach me.
So how do we move towards it? How do we get into it? A Course in Miracles tells us forgiveness, "... offends no aspect of reality nor seeks to twist it to appearance that it likes. It merely looks and waits and judges not." (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.221.4) Again, it's talking about forgiveness as if it is a third-party. Forgiveness merely looks. It waits. It judges not. How do we get to that point of embodying forgiveness? What do we do when we say I am going to let forgiveness comes through me? How are we to be the channel, the conduit for forgiveness?
Forgiveness is this idea that comes in and tells us, let's release judgment. Let's release this thought. What is the critical piece on our part? I've talked about this before. It's willingness. We have got to be willing. It's not that we are doing the forgiveness, but we have to be willing to let forgiveness come in and change us. In Chapter 30 of the Original Edition Text, it says, "Look on your brother with the willingness to see him as he is." (OrEd.Tx.30.77) Since I've been changing my perspective on this, I found this really interesting. The Course says, "Look on your brother with the willingness to see him as he is." (OrEd.Tx.30.77) It doesn't say "Look on your brother as he is." If you did, you would probably be pretty much enlightened, right? (laughter) You would be like "Oh, he is God too." We are pretty much good to go then. We don't really see that though.
So how do we look at our brother? We move to a point of being willing to see our brother as he is. We say, "Ok, Holy Spirit. There is Reverend Lucas. Let me see Reverend Lucas as they are." But we have to be willing.
I was reading Teach Only Love by Gerald G. Jampolsky. I'm not sure if I pronounced his last name right. That's close enough. (laughter) I read it while I was on retreat a couple of years back. In this book he says pretty much the same thing. "Forgiveness is relinquishing an unhelpful train of thought. Forgiveness is the gentle refusal to defend ourselves against love." I thought that was great. "Forgiveness is the gentle refusal to defend ourselves against Love." It doesn't say to grab love; it says to stop fighting it.
That's what the Course says, right? It doesn't try to teach love. It teaches us how to remove the barriers. There has to be a willingness to open up to that. Then Jampolsky continues, "It's a willingness to perceive everyone including ourselves as either expressing love or feeling a need for love." Again, it's a willingness. It's a willingness.
Jampolsky also says, "Forgiveness does not imply a type of behavior." How often do we do that? I have forgiven them so I have to act a certain way. The Community Miracles Center has had issues on Facebook. People have said that if we are being forgiving, then we can't block people who won't follow guidelines. I have had people say that if I have forgiven my sister, I would need to take telephone calls from her if she called. Jampolsky is saying that forgiveness is not a specific type of behavior. It is a willingness to see the brother as needing love or expressing love.
I asked my friend how do I implement this? He said to me, "You stop letting yourself go into your story. You keep coming back and say that you are willing."
We aren't going to say that you have to forgive. If we said that, what would we do? It's like when you are on a diet. People tell you don't have the chocolate cake. Then the only thing you obsess about is the chocolate cake. That is the worst! People will say, "Don't eat french fries." Then every time you turn around, there is a McDonald's right there on the corner. This is the same thing. You can't just say, "I'm going to forgive my brother, forgive my brother, forgive my brother." Because then what are you doing? You are thinking that need to forgive your brother for being a jerk. You are thinking that you will forgive them even though they did this crap to you. You are going to forgive your brother for …
My friend simply said, "I am going to stop repeating this story and I come to a place of willingness." He comes to a place of saying, "I ask that forgiveness set me and set that person free." It may not even be a specific person. It could be, "I ask that forgiveness sets me and sets the Republican party free." "I ask that forgiveness set me and my sister free."
We will reference my sister again because that is a big forgiveness lesson for me. I don't see her as perfect. I will admit that. I look at her life choices and I think that they are messed up. She's messed up. So every time I go to that thought, I have to pause and I say, "I'm not going to keep thinking that thought. I am going to stop." It only takes ten seconds. "I ask that forgiveness set me and sets my sister free."
It seems too simple. It's a ten second phrase. "I ask that forgiveness set me and this person free." Here is the difference. You aren't fighting it. You are trying to bring the forgiveness in. It's not something you have to do. There is an acknowledgement, first, that forgiveness is "outside" of me from the Holy Spirit. I am saying I am willing to allow Holy Spirit to do this work through me. I am willing to allow there to be forgiveness in this situation.
Like I said about Jampolsky, you don't have to behave a certain way. It doesn't mean you have to behave a certain way. In the reading again it says, "Do nothing then …" That is an implied "you" – you, yourself. Don't be fighting this. Don't be trying to figure out what to do. "… let forgiveness show you what to do through Him Who is your Guide." (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.221.5) So forgiveness is being talked about again here as a third party. This third party comes through Holy Spirit. It says do this – do nothing.
I will tell you that another big forgiveness lesson for me has been to forgive myself that I can't tolerate everybody. (laughter) I've looked at the compromise approach that the Course teaches about illness, and for me that applies to all parts of my life. I am not spiritually at the point when I can just sit there and allow somebody to be verbally abusive to me and not let it affect me. I'm just not there yet. I've asked Holy Spirit what to do.
The very clear guidance that I have received is that I allow the person to say what they need to the first time. Again, this is the guidance that I've received for me. Other people are different. Then I don't leave myself in the situation. If that person chooses to continue to be offensive, that is fine. I know they are a perfect child of God, but I've been shown for me that I am not in a place to be able to just sit there with it and not go into false beliefs about myself.
So Spirit said to me, "Take the compromise approach. Take yourself out. On another day when you are doing better, then you can deal again with that person." I don't judge them for their behavior. Yet I allow the guidance that I have received to direct me. If I start to go into judgment, I go back to Spirit and say, "I ask that forgiveness set me and set that other person free too." Sometimes, you have to take that break. The Course talks about taking that little magic pill when you have a cold. You know that the Course says it is just a magic pill. But guess what? You think you are a body. You are sick. You are coughing, sneezing and whatever. Sometimes you just need to take that compromise. So for forgiveness, you say "I ask that forgiveness set me and that other person free." That is acknowledging I'm not feeling free at this moment. "I ask that forgiveness set me and that other person free."
How does this look going forward? "Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred … What then is free to take its place is now the Will of God." (OrEd.WkBk.SpTp.221.1) We talk a lot in the CMC office about level confusion – people focusing on the spiritual realm and trying to deny their world experience. It isn't saying that you deny things like that person just crossed the street in front of me.
I was driving for Uber this past weekend. I am trying to pay off some credit cards! Good old Uber! I had this guy get into the car, hopped in and was kind of grumbling to himself. He then flipped open his laptop computer and it was a long drive. He didn't say a word to me for the rest of the drive. My initial thought was, "This guy is a jerk! Really???" It was from San Francisco airport to past Walnut Creek (an hour plus trip that includes going over the San Francisco Bay Bridge).We are talking a long Uber drive. He didn't say a word to me the whole time. He just sat and played on his laptop. There was the thought I had that he was a jerk. How rude that he wouldn't even barely say hi to me.
The Course isn't saying that I deny that he got into the car and opened his laptop. What am I thinking about this event is what didn't happen. "He was a jerk; he was ignoring me." Truth was, I don't know why he was on his laptop. He just didn't talk to me the whole time. I could say, "Man got in car. Man opened laptop. Man didn't speak to me." but the whole rest of the story was my story. I looked at it and had to say, guess what? "I ask forgiveness to set me and this man free" because I knew that the story wasn't real. I was going into anger and judgment about things that weren't really there. It was my story.
How do we know it is working? I was talking to my friend and asked him if he just forgives everyone and he said "Oh, no." But the guy that my friend was wishing was dead – now maybe my friend is just praying that the guy got the flu last week. (laughter) It is a process! That is why you keep going back to it. You realize that you are still not free of your thoughts. I am still not free. I am still holding this judgment but it does get better.
It used to be that my mom would start talking about my sister and I'd be like "Heck, no! I don't want to hear about that crap! She's a messed up brat!" Then I would start going into my story. I would start venting to my mom how stupid I thought my sister was. Now, I just sit there, listen and think it's okay. She's my sister. Those are the not the choices I would make but that's fine. I'm not always necessarily the most loving. I said something a few days ago that I am not repeating. We will leave it at that. (laughter) I said something I probably shouldn't have, but it's less frequent.
You realize that you are not caught up in those emotions any more. You are not being ruled by your feelings and your thoughts. You don't have to say, "I'm mad at him so I'm going to go do this." You are able to say, "I am mad at him and I am asking forgiveness to heal him and me. Holy Spirit, what would you have me do?" Then you are able to follow that with a sense of peace, of knowing, whatever the circumstances are, that you are being Spirit guided. It is your healing. It is part of the healing process, that as you are healed you are now bringing healing to that other person. Maybe it will change the outward appearance. Maybe it won't. Who knows?
The other part of it is that it helps us to be open with one another – not just the person you were upset with, or the situation you were upset with. Now you can be open with others. Here is what happens. I get mad at my sister. If I can't trust my sister, if I can't trust blood, how can I trust my friend? Don't you go there? In college, every time I took economics, I hated the professor. So I could think, "Obviously, professors are just jerks." Is that true? "No." But what do we do? We haven't forgiven one so we put it out there on everybody. We want to guard ourselves; we want to protect ourselves. So it's not only that the forgiveness is towards that person but it is healing yourself so that you can open up to a relationship with everyone else too. So that you can live in a life of Love.
I love the lesson today. It seems the lesson of the day always ties into what I was to talk about. That is cool. It said, "By grace I live. By grace I am released." I think you could bring that into this discussion. By forgiveness I live; by forgiveness I am released. Bring it into your life and say "I am willing; I am open. I am not going to fight this. I'm willing to be healed." Be willing to let forgiveness heal whatever is bothering you. Be open to that. Thank you. That is my talk! (applause) ♥
Rev. Kelly Hallock is CMC's 89th minister. She currently works remotely as the CMC's Assistant Minister from her home in Anderson Island, WA (03.17.2019). She is also on the CMC Board of Diretors. She was ordained by the CMC on Sep. 13, 2015.
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the July 2017 (Vol. 31 No.5) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.