This is an account of a powerful experience of forgiveness. As with many of my life lessons, it occurred at work. The conflict started because of my attempt to introduce holistic principles while caring for a patient. I felt called to speak a hard truth to a patient and the family who was going through some very intense life experiences. They were dealing with loss on a big level. I had learned in the past when tough, but loving advice pops up into my head, to be at peace with myself, I must speak that truth. I often hesitate, because such advice goes deep and can sometimes trigger an intense rejection. For example, I sometimes give advice about marriage, relationships or job choices. I’ve told a cattle rancher to start eating vegetarian and a girl that she needed to end a toxic relationship. Whatever advice I give, I do my best to present the idea in the most gentle way possible, but even then it can still trigger hurt feelings and rejection.
After giving such advice one day, I felt a huge wall of tension between me and the family member of my patient. We went our separate ways, but a month or two later I discovered that a complaint had been filed against me. I was asked to meet with the hospital administration as they read me the letter. It was clear that this person was deeply hurt. It was also clear in the letter, that they intended to damage my reputation. I felt that my job was being threatened and my work is the cornerstone of my spiritual path. This letter of complaint was attacking the heart of my spiritual path. If felt every bit of this attack.
Fortunately the staff that was handling this issue, was well of aware of the extra efforts I took to care for my patients. They were able to step back and understand that the letter was written by a person trapped in a very rough life experience. They could see how that was fueling the words in the letter as much as or more than the advice I had given. I was comforted by them that my job was safe. They planned to call the person and let them know they were aware of the dissatisfaction and that I was sorry for having caused it, but that my intentions were only to be helpful.
Despite this positive feedback, I was disturbed. My mind worried that this could happen again. I was being forced to face a big hidden fear. Now that it was brought to the surface, I could see that I had been fearful that speaking my truth would jeopardize my spiritual path. When I thought about this rationally, I could see the fear made no sense. How could being true to my spiritual integrity, jeopardize my spiritual path? If I lost a job because of speaking the truth, then I was just working in the wrong place and being let go would be a gift. This self evaluation helped me to see through the fear, but the feeling didn’t go away that easily.
When I returned to work from the meeting, I felt myself cringe inside. The inner reaction was one of fear and shame. I allowed myself to be with those feelings while holding my head up. I did my best to be confident, caring and kind. None of the people who worked with me, knew about the complaint. It was up to me, and how I behaved to either give those feelings life, or let them dissolve from neglect. Later this very day I got a little nod of support from the universe. A doctor saw me and mentioned that his patients always say good things about me and that he appreciated the work I did. The negative emotions where still alive inside of me, but they were finding less and less to cling to.
After work, I went on a long meditative nature walk. I noticed very spiteful thoughts popping up towards the person that filed the complaint, now that I had no distractions. Whenever this happened, I imagined that I was face to face with this person and was given the chance to reconcile. I only choose to think thoughts that I would be comfortable voicing in this situation. Over a period of days, my mind relaxed about this matter and life went on.
As it turns out, a month or two later while at work, I discovered that the patient was hospitalized again, and the family member who I had upset was in the room. I could feel myself cringe inside at the prospect of having to face that person. I let that go. I wouldn’t let fear control my actions. In fact I considered walking in the room to face my fears and seek reconciliation, but then I thought my presence would be disturbing to them. I should give them their space.
Later that day, I found myself by a flower shop and immediately the idea popped into my head that it would be nice to buy some roses and pass them out to strangers. I purchased a couple red roses and walked along the street. As I walked, a new idea popped into my head. I should bring the roses to the patient and their family member. I hesitated. I feared being thrown out of the room and looking like a fool. But after thinking about my options, I decided it would be easier for me to handle rejection, knowing I was doing my best, than it would be to live with regret the rest of my life for passing up on this chance for forgiveness and reconciliation.
I walked up to the door of the room, knocked and as I entered I mentally bowed my ego with the intention of letting my guard down and being humble. When my “adversary” saw me holding the flowers, I quickly sensed a feeling of acceptance. I apologized for causing hurt feelings and offered the flowers. That person responded that they understood I was just trying to help, and that they were okay with me. We shared a long, gentle hug at which time I noticed both of our bodies relax even more. During this exchange my new friend had silent tears flowing. I felt both of our hearts had softened. After spending some time in the room, I walked out feeling very light on my feet. Instead of having to avoid a room in the hospital out of fear of losing my job, I now felt at home, surrounded by friends.