On Forgiveness

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. ~Mahatma Gandhi

I’m

Angry.

Frustrated

At pettiness.

This silent treatment

Is getting more than old.

Same argument as before

With no resolution in sight.

Surely we can do better than that.

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Like clouds boiling in a darkened sky

Our emotions take center stage.

What we need to remember

Is why we’re together

And how strong we are

When united.

Let’s forgive

Again,

Love.

Seeking Peace

I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note — torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one. ~Henry Ward Beecher, American clergyman

 

The older I get, the more I crave peace.

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The Gift of Forgiveness

I hate admitting it, but there are several stories in the Bible that I find hard to like.

This weekend’s Gospel reading about the Prodigal Son is one.

Turns out, the reason I’m having trouble with it is that I’m hearing it too literally.

I’m the first child in my family. The one who’s tried to “be good,” “be responsible,” “be conscientious.”

The one who’s generally done as she’s been told.

So when I hear of this Prodigal Son squandering his inheritance, then begging to come back into the family, I nod my head.

Figures, I think disdainfully.

And when the father throws a party for that wayward son, what’s that about??

Forgiveness.

It’s a lesson we need to understand symbolically.

Jesus wasn’t talking about birth order; He was pointing out that we all need to be forgiven, and the Father in Heaven is willing to forgive.

Aren’t we all a little like that Prodigal Son?

God has given us countless gifts, yet we squander them shamelessly. Or we decide we’d rather have a gift that somebody else has instead of those we’ve got.

We try Him and test Him, seeing how far we can push.

We’re all like the older son, too.

Feeling like we’ve somehow “earned” God’s forgiveness. Living with anger and resentment when things don’t go our way, when we see others getting “more” or “better” than we have.

As if God giving someone else a gift takes something away from us!

Our priest said somebody did a survey of the medical profession and learned that only 10 percent of people’s illnesses are actually caused by disease. The rest, doctors say, stem from anger, fear, and resentment — emotions that medicine can’t cure.

Do you remember the movie The Karate Kid?

When Mr. Miyagi asks the bullied young Daniel why he wants to learn karate, Daniel replies, “Is revenge a good enough reason?”

Wise old Mr. Miyagi points out, “Then you’d better dig two graves, one for yourself, one for the other guy.”

Mr. Miyagi, you see, knew what Jesus was trying to tell us — that anger hurts us more than it hurts others.

That forgiveness is necessary for peace and health.

So instead of seeing myself as the “wronged” first son, I need to realize I’ve been “prodigal,” too.

And humbly accept God’s forgiveness.

Be Careful with Your Words

Earlier this week my mom tearfully apologized for something she and Daddy did two decades ago — they refused to attend my wedding.

‘Daddy wanted you to know before he died,’ she told me. ‘We both did.’

But Daddy died three years ago this month, the words still stuck in his throat. And the only reason Mom was confessing is because without my marriage, she wouldn’t have My Favorite Domer (my son) around.

Domer is, in her opinion, better than sliced bread.

Her apology sent me right back to what was supposed to be one of the most wonderful times in a person’s life. Having met the one I thought I wanted to spend eternity with, I was happy. Busily planning our wedding ceremony. Attending pre-wedding parties. Shopping for a gown. Sending out invitations. Basking when someone complimented my engagement diamond.

Glowing.

Mom and Daddy told me over the phone they wouldn’t be at the ceremony.

‘We don’t approve, and we don’t think it will last,’ they said.

I thought they’d change their minds.

Then a terse, formal rejection to our invitation came. In perfect Emily Post wording.

They really weren’t coming.

So be it, I thought. I was over 21 — shoot, I was over 25! I was an adult; so was my fiance’. We didn’t need anyone to “give” me away when I was old enough to walk myself down the aisle.

Which I did.

Until that moment, I’d hoped Mom and Daddy would show up, maybe with an apology.

It wasn’t to be.

Shortly after our wedding, my new husband and I moved several hundred miles away, seeking, I suppose, a way to strengthen our bond without the interference of family and friends who didn’t approve. We found jobs, built a house, made new friends, and loved our new life.

Eventually we got the happy news I was expecting. However, that coincided with my husband’s job loss.

As my midsection grew, our finances tanked. The bank repossessed our beautiful home two months after Domer arrived. We separated, Domer and I going to stay with my sister, and hubby to stay with his brother. The plan was to put the fractured pieces of our life back together after we were stronger and he’d found work again.

That didn’t happen. Instead, we got divorced.

And while Mom and Daddy didn’t say, ‘We told you so,’ neither did they do much to empathize. Their philosophy seemed to be, Better to erase all traces of that phase of my life and move on.

So Mom’s apology is two decades late, and while it might be the “right” thing to do, I find it hard to forgive. The hurt just goes too deep.

The one good thing to come from this is my conviction that even wild horses couldn’t keep me from Domer. Whether it’s a major occasion or a minor one, I’ll be there, cheering him on, supporting him with my love and attention, and never ever forcing him to choose between me and somebody else.

I’m not posting this to play on your sympathies. Rather, I’m hoping you won’t leave unsaid the words that need to be spoken to those you love, that you’ll think twice before doing or saying things that can’t be undone.

Whoever penned the old quote, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,’ didn’t know what he was talking about. Words do hurt — sometimes for a very long time.