Monday, October 13, 2008


Oprah had a program on "Forgiveness." It's an idea I've struggled with all my adult life. I've been honest about the difficulty I have had over the years with my mom, even now when she is literally dust of the earth. I struggle with the idea of forgiveness. I felt for a long, long time that if I just turned my struggle over to God, and let God sort it out on my behalf, that was all I could manage in this earthly journey. I believed that could be adequate.

But holding on to that last shred of anger, and not letting it go has caused pain for someone dear to me, and that makes me sad. While my anger is what I call, "righteous," in the sense that it was caused by a genuine event, not just hurt feelings, or a simple disagreement, not everyone perceives my situation similarly or as even true. I think two ways, one is that if I were able to forgive my mother for the things that caused us to be estranged, maybe I could talk about her with less fierce feelings and that fierceness wouldn't have offended. The other side of me, however, regards the situation, and feels that I'm entitled to my feelings, and they are entitled to theirs and we don't have to agree to still be respectful to one another.

I can't go back in time and suck the words of my truth back into my mouth and to be honest, I can't say that I want to do so. What bothers me is that pain passed to my mother has been passed to me, and keeps moving down the generational line. Pain has been a thread through my family for several generations, and apparently it's the "gift" that keeps on giving, generationally.

What I can say is that three years ago as I feared I was slipping to the other side of the veil when my pancreas crapped out on me, I had an epiphany that it is very, very easy to slide away and that so much of what we struggle with on this side -- is petty. Do I always remember that and practice it in an honorable way? Heck no! Last time I looked, I'm human. I've made promises to "Seek and serve Christ in all people," and I've also promised to "Work for Justice, Freedom and Peace." Those are big, BIG promises that I want to honor, but find that in this human skin, I can't always live up to those lofty goals. I think the people that do live up to those big expectations, are called saints, like Mother Theresa. That kind of selflessness is truly extraordinary. I know I'm not genuinely capable of that kind of sacrifice. Yet, I need to aspire as high as I can, and clearly have failed to reach high enough in at least one instance -- heck, probably hundreds of instances. I'm flawed. I know it.

While I am profoundly sorry for any pain I may have caused anyone, there is also a part of me that wants to say that as much as I struggle and continue to struggle with forgiveness, I find that few people focus on it as much as I do. Most people (in MY experience) don't dwell on it the way I do, and those that do think about issues of betrayal and trust and family cohesion seem to seldom be willing to extend the idea of forgiveness to others. The Calvinist thread runs strong in our Colonial roots, and even in this day and time we want an "eye for an eye" and to hold people accountable for "Judgement Day." It is truly the extraordinary person who can be selfless enough to consider forgiveness and work toward it.

Forgiveness gets a lot of books written about it. People who feel they have been the subject of some wrong seem to worry about it a lot more than others around them. I've been told through a couple of decades that I should be working toward forgiveness of what I perceive to have been a great, big offense. Yet, in this time and this place when I am faulty, and frail, and unkind, and don't measure up to being the best person I should be, who forgives me?

I've lost some people in my life in the last couple years because of my own limitations and my own inadequacies. I have to believe that some who have been wronged, are right: I've been a jerk. At the same time, I hope they can someday come around to the idea that I admit to being faulty, and weak, and imperfect as a friend, as a family member and as a human being. You are dear to my heart -- even if it doesn't seem like it all the time.

1 comment:

Calypso said...

You made me cry today.
Don't be so hard on yourself.
But...I hear what you are saying...try and forgive yourself for whatever you THINK you did wrong...and you're right, you ARE human!!
*big hug*