Throughout the history of mankind there have been many atrocities perpetrated against men, women, and children. What has separated most societies has been the ability to forgive one another and move forward learning from our mistakes.
Forgiveness is a gift, which some people can do easily and other’s struggle to find a way. What makes it easy for some and so hard for others? I think it lies in a person’s ability to look inside of our thought processes, heart, and even our spirit. When we identify it is our choice to forgive we empower ourselves and give ourselves permission to move forward with our lives. Easily said for some and so difficult for others!
My mom had a hard time forgiving her father for some things he did after her mother died and during the great depression. I loved my mom dearly but as a little boy I have vivid memories of the distain my mother showed to my grandfather. It hurt me to hear her say these not so nice things about a man I also loved and cared about. My mom went many years without talking to my grandfather, not just talking to, but not seeing or hearing from him. I will never forget the day she got a call from my step-grandmother that my grandfather was in the hospital close to death from esophageal cancer (all those cigars he smoked!). We lived 400 miles or so from where he lived and we rushed to be with him. I was not allowed to see him as he had deteriorated to a mere 60 pound man and I guess at 12 years old they felt I shouldn’t have a memory of seeing him so wasted away. He passed away a few hours after we got there. We attended his funeral and drove back home to the farm.
I remember that ride so well, my mom telling great stories of my grandfather’s escapades and travels with fondness and tears streaming down her face. As we drove and talked I got around to asking the haunting question that kept darting through my mind since the trip started, “ Mom are we ever going to get to see Grandma Mildred again”? You would have thought that I had taken the Lord’s name in vain the way my mother snapped and turned to me and said emphatically “NO.” Of course me being me I asked, “Why?” her reply was, “I hate her!” My thought was geez I better not get on her bad side or I’m in deep do-do! So I left it at that.
I learned several great lessons on that trip, first not to cross my mom and second that to not forgive destroys relationships. I thought about all I had lost over the years of not seeing my grandfather and grandmother. Hearing the stories straight from their mouths and not the embellishment of others, the closeness of family, the warmth of connection to each other. My mother’s inability to forgive the past impeded my ability to learn and connect with my family history. My mom chose not to forgive which was a pattern with her throughout the rest of her life. Looking back, I realized what a selfish act it was and I made the decision that I was not going to live my life in such a manner.
I have always had a soft heart, I easily cry and am not ashamed that I do. Some view it as weakness I choose to see the power in it. I learned from my childhood experiences that I had the power to choose and choose I would. You have the same power of choice to forgive. Forgiveness frees the mind and body to move forward and be creative; thriving at all we do. To hold on to the hate and guilt, sours the mind and spirit to all that life has to offer.