I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. In truth, I’ve been thinking how liberating it is. For years I harbored resentment towards someone in my life for hurting me. I’m not even certain they knew I felt that way. Probably not. Several years back I decided to forgive this person. There was no need to tell them, I was the only one who needed to know. Hatred, resentment, jealousy – they’re like dark storm clouds crowding your heart . Those emotions eventually spill over until it’s visible to even yourself ; the hard set of your jaw, thin set of your lips and the furrowed brow. Gulp! Where did that cranky looking woman in the mirror come from? Forgiveness is the clean springlike breeze that blows it all away and allows the sunshine in. Once I made the decision to forgive and let it go, I felt lighter and happier than I’d felt in a long time.
In M.L. Stedman’s book “The Light Between Oceans”, the character Frank is asked by his wife how he can be so cheerful and forgiving. He says to her, “Oh but my treasure, it is so much less exhausting, you only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things. I would have to make a list… and make sure I hated the people on it the right amount. That I did a proper job of hating, too: very Teutonic!” I can’t tell you how many times I read that paragraph. It resonated with me so much that I grabbed my pen and wrote it in my journal. Now, when I’m wrestling with my ability to forgive AND forget, I remember that passage and it helps me.
By making the decision to forgive that person, I’ve come to see them in a new light. I love them, I enjoy them, and they’re someone I look forward to talking with. The person who was most blessed by forgiveness was me.
Have you ever thought that you were going to have a bad day and it turned out to be pretty good? Yesterday I started my day by attending the anniversary mass I had said in Mom’s memory. It still hurts to hear her favorite hymns, so I chose the early music-free mass. As I walked into church, I took a deep breath and repeated my mantra, “I will not cry. I will not cry.” I wondered how I’d keep my composure as the priest began. “I will not cry. I will not cry.” After the blessing, he announced the names of the people for whom the mass was being offered. Wait – what?! “Why didn’t he mention Mom?!” Still mentally reciting my mantra, I grabbed the bulletin and looked. Yep, there was her name but it was listed under the intentions for the later mass! Oh no, what was I going to do!? There I was at the very front of the church, so slipping out discretely was not an option. First I felt panic followed by anger that the mass had gotten switched. Then slowly the humor of the whole situation just struck me. Suddenly my mantra changed to “I will not laugh. I will not laugh.” That slip up freed my heart. Yeah, the bulletin may have said that the later mass was in Mom’s honor, but I knew she was enjoying this one with me. And the fact that I could pray along with my fellow parishioners and be happy knowing she was getting a kick out of it was the best honor I could give her.
Later, I heard some news that I couldn’t wait to share with Mom so naturally I picked up the phone and started to dial. And then it hit me that she’s not at the other end of the line anymore. I sat down and just sobbed. While I sat there blubbering I thought about it and whenever I couldn’t talk with her, I would send her an email. So that’s exactly what I did; I wrote her the longest, most newsy email and then I hit “send”. It felt good telling her everything that had been going on and about a situation that I’ve been praying on because I need some guidance. All the things I would’ve told her over the phone.
You know, I haven’t received that (email) postmaster notification telling me that it was undeliverable. I hope she got my message.