17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.
 

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Miracle of Forgiveness

I had a defining moment when I was about 21 years old.

I read the Poisonwood Bible. I closed the book upon reading the last few words, and I knew I could forgive.

I forgave someone who I couldn't forgive for the past 15-or-so years. I forgave him for cancelling every trip he said he would take to come visit me, for drinking beer in front of me when that "wasn't allowed", for giving me a kitten as a gift, even though he should have known how allergic to cats I was, for lying to me, for putting me in danger, for swearing in front of me, for infedility, drug abuse, and abandonment.

The weight of 500 elephants times 500 lifted off of my shoulders, and I was free.

I learned how to cry. I learned how to laugh. I learned how to find joy. I learned to regain my childhood. I learned that holding that in for so long was damaging. I learned to love. I learned to say "I'm sorry." I learned how to reach out. I learned how to be a friend. I learned how to be a wife. I learned how to follow my dreams. I learned to forgive myself. I learned how to ask for forgiveness. I learned how to forgive others. I learned that sometimes there's nothing to forgive.

I had to learn so much, because I had been suffocating from the elephant weight for so long. I learned it all so quickly and so energetically that it was all a blur.

Forgiving him was my miracle.

"To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else."
~David Bednar


12 Comments:

  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    posted by Blogger trimama at 3/01/2007 05:17:00 PM  



  • Thank you for this post!!

    I have been fortunate throught my life to be able to forgive and forget so easily. For the first time I have really struggled with forgiving some members of my husbands family. I do believe in the quote that Kage posted and I remind myself of that often.

    However, a very wise person in the church pointed something out to me.. He said "It is very important to forgive and forget (that is our responsibility)...but do not go back for more." It has been so hard for me to forgive family members who have never appologized and are cosistintly hurtful. What are your thoughts?
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/01/2007 07:00:00 PM  



  • Thanks for sharing this.

    Like Anonymous, I have also been fortunate throughout my life to easily forgive and forget. But that also could be a factor of not having anyone do anything quite so hurtful as what has been mentioned in the post and comments. In that, I have also been quite fortunate.

    "It is very important to forgive and forget (that is our responsibility)...but do not go back for more.

    Anon, I have heard similar statements from people before as reasoning why they have cut family members completely out of their lives. In certain circumstances, this might be necessary, but on the whole, I believe in continuing to build family relationships (even if it may be slow and with caution) with those that have offended you (and might continue to offend you). For me, trying to cut people out of your life seems like just as much hard work and pain as slowly trying to build something better. But I have been accused of having an idealistic view of what families should be so take it for what it's worth.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 3/01/2007 08:58:00 PM  



  • anon, I think the important thing to remember is that forgiveness is a process. Sometimes you have to pray and pray and pray about it...once I was in a situation where I just had to pray to be forgiving one day at a time. I didn't have that MOMENT like I write about in the post, I had to work on it EVERY DAY. I have another situation with someone at church, so every Sunday I had to pray and mentally prepare for being forgiving that day...until it just became a permanent state, and one day I looked at that person and I was ok with them.

    It also helps me to read that quote, b/c no one person is causing ME misery...I cause MYSELF misery when I don't forgive what probably was never meant to offend me in the first place...I just TOOK offense...empowering myself to change my happiness quotient (by LETTING IT GO), really changes the whole situation doesn't it? I hate the blame game....I just blame myself if I am upset, and I try to take as much responsibility as possible for my feelings and my part in the situation, I find that also helps me be completely honest about a situation too, which is always good...

    I think it's ok to take a break from a hurtful situation. When I was a kid I had to distance myself from my Dad's family, just as I am sure you have had to distance yourself from a friend who has maybe had a bad influence on you or a co-worker...you can still have love for someone, but realize that the combination of you two might not be working at the moment.

    Work through your stuff, and then wear a figurative button on your lapel that says: OLIVE BRANCH PERMANENTLY EXTENDED and maybe you can rebuild, and maybe you just keep living your amazing life, with a shiny new button in the mix!
    posted by Blogger Kage at 3/02/2007 04:30:00 AM  



  • I sadly am not a forgiving person. I don't give second chances very easily, if at all! I know this about myself and I am okay with it. For now. Perhaps I am a sinner because of it, but I am not a miserable person. I actually let go of things, so I guess forget, before I ever forgive. So in other words I don't deal with it. I just have a way of protecting myself that has worked over the years. Sheesh, who needs a therapist?

    Kage you are very brave for all that you have done to repair your heart. If you feel better inside that is all that matters.

    So, am I the only one going to purgatory??
    posted by Blogger Zinone at 3/02/2007 07:49:00 AM  



  • zinone, I understand what you are saying.

    For me, I have had a hard time forgiving a few adults who were in my life growing up. They were extrememly, consistently evil/mean to me growing up for no understandable reason. I guess since I was a child and they were adults, I have never wanted to allow them forgiveness. I have felt justified. Like who is downright evil to a child or youth? I have wanted to be angry with them. I grew up in a loving, accepting home, but these experiences hurt me deeply.

    Whenever I see them now, I somehow want to make them pay for how much they hurt me. In fact because of those experiences, I do feel like I am a more defensive person now. When I was young, I couldn't stand up for myself. But now I can, so I guess now I feel like more of a fighter. Honestly, if you met me, you would not think it. I am very soft and nice for the MOST part. But there is a slice of me laying dormant, that if I ever heard anyone try to speak to me or anyone close to me in a way that reminded me of those hurts from my past, I would probably lash out at them hard.

    SO my problem is that I don't really even want to forgive. Hopefully someday I will learn to want it.
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 3/02/2007 08:19:00 AM  



  • Good for you, Kate. My dad good be a difficult person, so I know what you are talking about.

    The other side of the coin is that people also have to protect themselves. And there is the whole problem of codependency where family members and loved ones become the enablers of being abused and other destructive behavior.

    Personally, I realize that people have reasons for their actions. I can empathize with that, which is different from sympathy and antipathy.
    posted by Blogger Hellmut at 3/02/2007 09:18:00 AM  



  • Kage, You have always been one of my hero's. Thanks for sharing this part of your life. Hugh Nibley wrote that the most important thing we can learn in this life (coming from a man who learned a lot) is how to repent and how to forgive. I try to remember this when I'm carrying a hard heart, everything else is just window dressing.d
    posted by Blogger Shaleen at 3/02/2007 09:29:00 AM  



  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    posted by Blogger miggy at 3/02/2007 09:59:00 AM  



  • A former roommate shared something with me that has since stuck. She (like myself) grew up with a negative family situation. She said that she would forgive her father and really feel that she had, then something new would happen and make her resentful and angry all over again as if she had never forgiven him in the first place. Thus, she began to think that she must not have really forgiven and now she would have to start all over again. Then she read the scripture in Matt 18 where Jesus says to forgive 70 times 7. . . and it hit her. . . this doesn't just mean being able to forgive someone over and over for new instances, but forgiving a situation (the same one) over and over. It doesn't mean you always take a step back just because you feel the same pain/anger again . . . I know this is similar to what Kage was talking about and maybe most of you are thinking "well duh" but it was enlightening to me.

    Also, about forgiving and church I've got a question. . . what if someone in your ward not just offended you, but was involved in some shady business, and you experienced this "shadiness" first hand . . . but it's not really something to take to a Bishop (or maybe you do). Do you support and actually sustain them in callings? Do you let them near your loved ones? Is it being unforgiving or cautious?
    posted by Blogger miggy at 3/02/2007 10:03:00 AM  



  • miggy, what a hard question, I know.

    Here are my thoughts:
    ~If the shady business is something that would hurt someone, in particular children, and you know undeniably that it is true, you should probably mention it to your bishop.

    ~As far as sustaining. No one person is completely perfect EVER...if that was a requirement, nobody would be sustainable. I have discussed this a lot with my husband and I think for me the answer is that the gospel is true and the people mess up, and God uses the people that he has to make his work progress, and he knows their imperfections/sins.

    ~If you feel uncomfortable sustaining someone, I think it's ok to talk to your Bishop about that...he may not agree with you, but will certainly listen and maybe give you good advice about the situation.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 3/03/2007 06:00:00 AM  



  • Thanks for the free exchange of thoughts regarding a very important principle.

    You ladies are outstanding!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/04/2007 08:36:00 PM  



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