I have struggled recently with the seeming fact that there seems to be a fine line between forgiving and enabling. I have called my room mate, who is also my sister, a case study of somebody caught in the hell of the ego. She is a smart and beautiful woman but I watch as she torments her mind and body with her own thoughts. I will not go into detail but I am constantly being witness to what she is allowing her ego to do. It is painful to watch. I sometimes have to leave the room she is in because I can feel her sadness.
I kept telling myself that I need to forgive her. So my way of forgiving her was to sit back and say nothing (and resent). Well, that didn’t seem to work so I decided to sit her down and tell her that she needs to be happy and that she is hurting herself! That shook her up for a couple weeks and then the usual patterns started again.
I tried passive forgiveness and brutal honesty and yet I still felt helpless. I felt like I was either forgiving too little or judging too much. Either way, my efforts felt empty.
This was until I read in the Course that forgiveness is empty unless it entails correction. Now, she was not doing anything to me personally, but watching her do things to herself caused me discomfort and pain, so I knew that forgiveness was needed on some level. I learned that without some type of correction, whether it is in my perception or hers, my forgiveness was an empty gesture.
I found in the end that simply communicating my concern to her was all I needed to feel better. Telling her how I felt made me feel better because I felt like I was no longer part of the charade; like the truth was out in the open. I think the correction was that I was being true to my feelings. While I would have loved for my words to have changed her mind on some things, I was happy with the fact that I shed light on my fear and that there was the possibility that that light would possibly help my sister dispel some of her fear.
There is not a fine line between true forgiveness and enabling. Forgiveness with correction (true forgiveness) allowed me to take responsibility for my feelings, do something about them, and not enable myself to feel badly. This also made me feel that I was no longer enabling my sister. We had communicated and I had done what is in my power to do. The rest, I had to give to God.
*Daniel Tipton resides in Omaha, NE and is a member of the Course in Miracles Society [CIMS]. He has recently entered the ACIM Ministerial Program offered by the Community Miracles Center and will be attending the Annual ACIM Conference sponsored by CMC and CIMS among many other ACIM organizations.