Forgiveness and the Inner Voices

I may be too good at forgiveness, at seeing things from the other’s point of view. Self-respect requires me to see things from my own point of view at least sometimes.

On Friday 22nd I found more inner conflict. I spoke on Jamie Catto’s zoom gathering of how I felt about Emma Nicholson, and the LGBT foundation letter. The way to talk about how I felt scared was to use my most feminine voice. Then I spoke about other internal voices seeking to suppress that voice: one says “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” I have quoted this voice before, and it seemed then I allowed it to speak through my vocal cords.

That was big for me. It is a voice the conscious self does not like, its desperation, its violent anger at something I see as authentic self. I saw I have to welcome that terrified voice as well. It wants my good. It affects me if I am unconscious of it, and I may become conscious and hear a more nuanced message from it if I welcome it.

On Saturday I did his zoom workshop. “Don’t push yourself,” says Jamie Catto. Um. I want Opening! That’s why I am here. He says it’s a matter of receiving, not forcing, yin not yang, and what he talks of may be the “inner light” of the Quakers. He talks of full body listening. Stop numbing feeling. Self-love means being willing to feel uncomfortable or unacceptable feelings.

Another talks of RAIN: ground yourself, then ask what you feel. Then Recognise, Allow, Investigate, Nurture. After an eye-contact thing, which does not work over Zoom, and two games to get us speaking playfully and unselfconsciously, we get the forgiveness exercise.

Pick some wrong you have suffered, then imagine a judge has found the wrongdoer guilty. Write a plea in mitigation.

Without self blaming or making yourself wrong, or changing the facts of what happened: are there any ways you co-created what happened?

What point or fact or thing do you usually leave out of the retelling of what happened that reduces their guilt and your victimhood or innocence?

I think of various things I resent, and really I can forgive or understand most of it. H has betrayed herself as well as me, and, well, I see the route she took there. With S, it is complex. I won’t get to the bottom of that here. The person I cannot forgive is myself. I should be capable of more!

Much of my plea in mitigation I have often rehearsed, about my parents. That about me, seems new. I learned of the world through them. I knew no better. I have suffered 54 years, now, I do not deserve to suffer longer. I am untwisting.

Those two voices of the day before, the terrified voice shouting “Shut Up!” and the playful child-

Who is Love-

I write that in capitals. I am surprised by my vehemence.

I am Love.

Two voices, in unended conflict. I don’t know who I am or what to do and that is unbearable
and not my fault.

There it is. Not my fault. That is a moment of forgiveness right there.

What have I missed out of the retelling? Listen for the inspiration. Don’t try to answer the question with intellect or as a problem, listen for it as the muse might inspire a poem. Missed- my gifts- my courage, my capacity for joy, the value of the journey?

What is Now matters more than any of it.
Such as is still blind and twisted will heal in time.

Yeah, yeah. Live in the Now. I have heard that so many times. I even manage it, some of the time- and it has never meant so much to me before. What I am doing, Now, matters more than all that has led up to this point.

Talking this over in pairs, I say I feel like a snake shedding old skin, and she suggests the image of a phoenix rising.

Jamie has more questions for the inner light.
1. What is the bravest, most healing action I could take regarding this story/relationship?
2. What is/was the gift or training buried within/on offer from this experience?
3. Is there anything I’ve missed or skipped?

I test possible answers out, with my intellect. Does this fit? What could I do- trust? Forgive? Live?


The gift? A blessing for others which will give me delight?

The ability to hear others and to be present to them.

What have I missed: I sit with Unknowing, which is so painful. I am brave. I am goodness.

The unfolding is the point.

“Man should not ask what the meaning of his life is,” Victor Frankl wrote, “but rather must recognise that it is he who is asked.” Sorry about the non-inclusive language, I don’t even know if he wrote it in English or German. For me, the meaning is (at least, right now, when I am doing it) finding those voices and bringing them from conflict to reconciliation. Sadness and Anger, the feminine and what makes it shut up.

On Sunday, I wanted to cycle before worship, and found myself delaying again. I could just do that thirteen mile run, have a shower, and be in time for worship. I go out, and then think, I could do the ten miles instead. I come up to the T junction. Should I turn right, or left? I stop, to make the decision.

There is a voice inside which wants so much to stretch me, to make me go faster and further, to make me achieve. That is a good voice. And there is another which wants to protect me from the first, when it pushes me too hard. That too is a good voice. And the two are mostly unconscious, at loggerheads, and therefore so much I do disappoints me. I Welcome both voices, and make the decision with them both.

I turn left. I take the shorter route, with less climbing. I did not think of just turning round, which would have been shorter still.

Coming down the hill on the busiest part of the route, I am angry at the cars passing so close, so I move to the centre of my lane. I am claiming my space in the most vulnerable way possible.

In worship, I think, I so want to stretch myself and I so want not to. I think of Northampton Quakers. They would probably have tolerated me as a mere nutcase supplicant, coming to meeting, it was me saying what was true and what should be done, and taking my place as an equal that they could not stand. I turn off the video camera, in case I disturb other worshippers.

I Hurt,

I think, and immediately another voice says, “Your lifestyle is completely unchallenging”. I know this is untrue, and I


the voice. I tell it “Do what you like. Say what you need,” in an accepting, curious tone, rather than the angrily sarcastic one I would use to reject it.

I felt utter misery a few moments ago, and now I feel playfulness. Might I dance?

Someone ministers about how exciting his first Quaker meeting had been, and he wanted that recreated.

Another ministers that early Friends talked of the spirit moving within as Quickening, the same word used for a mother feeling her baby move within.

I minister, that I have been broken open, so I switched off my camera in case I disturbed others, but perhaps it is hard to damage the meeting.

Another quotes 1 John 1:5:

God is Light, and in God there is no darkness at all.

We become who we are, dealing with our issues, integrating them. Another quotes QFP:

The art of living must be studied, as must every art. It calls for imagination, so that every advance, every change, is not merely a difference, but a creative act. Achievement, at any level above the lowest, calls for courage to hold on, in spite of current moods, and for exacting self-discipline. The art of Christian living calls for the same self-preparation; but its reward is not merely aesthetic satisfactions. The soul, hungry for God, is fed. Life itself takes on new meaning. Thus it is that we break from the confines of the prisons we have built about ourselves. Thus it is we are brought into the freedom of the Kingdom of God which, every day, through the wide world, is being realised in the hearts of men.

3 thoughts on “Forgiveness and the Inner Voices

  1. Pick some wrong you have suffered, then imagine a judge has found the wrongdoer guilty. Write a plea in mitigation – I think that’d be hard, but it’s a good task. l turn off the video camera at MfW because I can only be heard when l do [because of ‘thin’ internet], but psychologically defacing yourself in order to assert yourself seems to ring some internal bells


All comments welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.