Over the years, I’ve asked several groups of people this question: would you rather to an AA meeting, or to church? So far, the overwhelming majority of people have practically leapt out of their seats to say that they’d take the AA meeting. I believe the reason for this comes down to two things that we all crave: honesty and vulnerability.
I’ve said for years that forgiveness is the biggest issue on planet earth. I’ve never seen anyone who had a serious psychological, mental, or emotional problem without an accompanying forgiveness issue. In fact, I met a good friend of mine, Dr. Ben Johnson, while he was lecturing that he’d never seen a cancer without a forgiveness issue.
So the first thing you should ask yourself is, should you be forgiven? Now, don’t get the wrong idea, I believe God’s forgiveness is boundless. There’s no such thing as a sin “too great” for Him to forgive. But there are a couple of real questions here. First, is the guilt that you feel real or false? False guilt is actually the most common type, in my experience, meaning that we feel guilt over something that either everyone else has already forgiven us for, or that never needed forgiveness in the first place. This type of problem always, 100 percent of the time has a lie at its source, that lie has to be healed, by energy medicine, by the truth, or by the grace of God.
But sometimes, there is real guilt, and this is where I think the idea of an AA meeting becomes attractive. Most of the great truths are paradoxical, and my experience has been that the more open and honest we are with our flaws, sins, and screw-ups, the more kind, loving, and patient others tend to be. Now I have to add that there absolutely are times when I need to make things right with God. I personally believe that this is one part that should never be left out, even if everyone else has forgiven me, and even if I’ve forgiven myself. From here, one of the biggest issues I’ve seen people struggle with is, “How do I know when I’ve really forgiven someone.” (That someone can absolutely be yourself).
My cultivated answer is that you’ve forgiven someone when you can honestly, sincerely say that you accept your offender as a person, with nothing held against them. You have to separate the person from the act. In other words, you are not the sum of your actions as many people throughout history have posited. If you feel resistant to that, I suggest your try turning the tables. Have you ever lied? How would you feel if everyone started referring to you as a liar? What would you think of a place where any time a person did anything wrong, they wore that label for the rest of their lives? My guess is that you would reject it. You would think it’s unfair. Well, you’re right. It is unfair, both for others, and for you. I think mankind figured out a long time ago that this system wouldn’t work, if for no other reason than that introductions would take much too long.
Ultimately, it’s an issue of judgement. I learned a long time ago—and this is not original to me—that judgement is for God and small children. I’m not either of those things, and neither are you.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!