To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you - Lewis B. Smedes
I had the pleasure of chatting with the lovely Chip Chipman on this week’s Insightful Conversations show. Chip is a 3 Principles Practitioner, teacher, mentor, trainer, and co-owner with his wife Jan of the Vantage Consulting Group. Chip is also one of the original students of Sydney Banks, and he was the person Sydney Banks chose along with Elsie Spittle to continue his legacy by running the 3 Principles School on Salt Spring Island.
I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to attend the school on a couple of different occasions. Between the breathtaking beauty of the island, Syd’s lingering presence, and the gentle way in which both Chip and Elsie share the 3 Principles understanding, it’s a magical experience and one that I would highly recommend.
Chip shared with me that he and Jan first came across the Principles during a difficult period in their marriage. They had both been seekers and had tried everything from Zen to Buddhism to many other spiritual disciplines to overcome their problems. Jan was the first to meet Syd, and when she returned to their home, Chip saw immediately that something had shifted in her. He, on the other hand, had a more challenging time accepting the 3 Principles teachings.
Part of the issue for Chip was the concept of forgiveness. He explained that he had grown up with a father who was not only an alcoholic but also physically violent. Chip said that it was tough for him to find compassion in his heart for the man who had brutally beaten him as a young child. During one of their visits, Chip tried to explain to Syd the severity of the beatings he had endured and why he couldn’t forgive his father. Hoping that Syd would finally
understand and agree with him, Chip was shocked when Syd’s response was to say that his father must have been in immense amounts of pain to do the things he did to him.
Initially, Chip was frustrated with Syd’s response, but there was something in the way Syd said what he said that touched him on a profound level. Over the course of the next few weeks, Chip experienced several significant insights that impacted his relationship with his father. Firstly, he saw that his father was merely repeating what had been done to him. Secondly, he saw that if his father had known better, he would have done better. Finally, he saw the Psychological innocence that lay behind his father’s behavior. By letting go of his anger and resentment towards his father, Chip found the freedom and peace of mind he had been searching for all his life.
I can relate to what Chip shared as I also suffered a painful childhood, and when I first came across the Principles, I was still harboring some judgment and resentment towards my mother. She was a single mother, who, although not an alcoholic, was prone to violent outbursts when she was angry. But that wasn’t the most painful aspect of my childhood. Being the product of my mother’s eight-year affair with my father, a married man who never acknowledged my siblings or me as his children, was devastating to me. As I grew up, I judged their behavior as selfish. I couldn’t understand how they could have made the choices they made. They appeared oblivious to the pain and suffering their actions caused innocent people around them.
Like Chip, once I came across the Principles, I was also able to see my mother and father’s psychological innocence. I can’t speak for my father as I never met him, but I know that my mother also had a challenging childhood. She grew up in poverty to two parents who, putting it mildly, disliked each other. There was no love in their home. So, my mother sought love and validation from the outside through anyone who paid her attention. She was innocently repeating generational patterns of the past. Believe it or not, when you look at my family tree, you’ll see that illegitimacy runs back generations!
I am so grateful for what the Principles have helped me to see. Thanks to the understanding, I spent the last few years of my mother’s life honoring and appreciating her for all that she was. She was a remarkable woman on so many levels. Besides making some dubious decisions when she was young, and who amongst us haven’t, she did so much good in the world. She built an empire taking care of mentally disabled people. She was a strong-headed independent woman who danced to the beat of her own drum. She was a maverick who lived life on her own terms — a woman born before her time.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean we condone negative or harmful behavior. It doesn’t mean we permit others to abuse us. It simply means that we’ve let go of carrying the heavy burden of judgment. When we see that we are all doing the best we can, given our state of mind and level of consciousness, it’s easy to see the psychological innocence that lies within all of us at our essence. Forgiveness helps us let go of the painful memories from the past that hinder our quality of life in the present moment. Forgiveness creates the space for new beginnings. Forgiveness equals freedom.
With love and appreciation, Del 💕