3.18.2011

Forgiveness

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.  Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall.
~Matthew 7:24 - 27




A couple of weeks ago, after listening to the Gospel that included Matthew 7:24 - 27, our priest spoke about forgiveness as the foundation of our lives.  That forgiveness must be the rock upon which we build our house.  As Christians, forgiveness can never be option.  It must be the condition of our lives.


I have turned back to this page in my journal almost daily since writing down these words.  Meditating about what it means to my life specifically.  We all have things in our life that we need to forgive and be forgiven for.  I am extremely hard on myself and will often beat myself up over things from long ago.  And yes, I know that I must learn to truly forgive myself.  But that's not where I struggle the most.


Forgiving my parents is a daily struggle.  Not in the sense of I still feel bitterness all the time, but the hurt is still there, lingering.  This month marks twenty-three years since the divorce.  For most of these 23 years, I underestimated what their divorce meant in my life.  When asked, I always said it was the best thing for everyone.  I always said that it was the best decision for everyone and that I am blessed to have two loving step-parents and a little brother.  And while I am blessed to have two loving step-parents and a little brother, how do I reconcile that with the fact that my family had to be torn apart for it to be this way?  I mean I understand the logistics of it, but I struggle with why?


It's not so much the question of why did my parents divorce.  I figure they either knew what they were talking about or got lucky when they said "we'll explain it when you are older," because now that I am older I don't want to know all of the details.  I don't care.  Or rather, I don't trust either one of them.  Or rather, I understand that their truth is going to be skewed by their individual perspective and bias.  The whole truth is something I would have to piece together for myself, and frankly I don't care.  It won't change the fact that they are divorced.  It won't change the fact that I have less than 10 memories that include both of my parents in the same house.


No, it's not the 'why did my parents divorce' that plagues me, but rather the 'why did this happen to my family.'  And, they seem to go hand in hand, the 'how would my life have been different?'  Please don't misunderstand, I don't sit around moping and feeling all 'woe is me', but I do wonder.  My parents, as the people I know, aren't the type of people to see the other side.  It doesn't surprise me one bit that they are divorced.  I often wonder why they were married in the first place.  And I wonder what would life be like if they had decided to fight for their marriage instead of with one another?  What if they had put working together to build a healthy marriage and family at the top of their priority list?  What if they had stayed true to their marriage vows and honored the Sacrament?


The 'what ifs' could go on forever but, honestly, it's not the questions that bother me, but my inability to see what might have been.  It is nearly impossible for me to imagine how my life might have been.  My parents being married is such a foreign concept to me, I cannot even imagine it.


And this is what I work to forgive every day.  Not all day, every day.  But a part of the day, every day.  I  know that they did what they felt was best.  I know their intention was never to hurt us.  I know that I am loved.  I know that the divorce hurt them as well.  That doesn't make the urge to stomp my feet and scream 'this wasn't fair' or 'why me' any less.  What I know and how I feel are so distinctly different that for years I have kept the what I feel part buried deep beneath the what I know part.


Forgiving my parents...


I know this, I feel better when my house is built on the rock of forgiveness and not on the sands of bitterness and 'why?'.  But sometimes, it is so much easier to build a sand house than a house of rock.



Forgiveness is never an option, it is the condition of our lives.
~Father Mark Ward



9 comments:

  1. I feel like you are one of my long-lost sisters. I have felt the same way for much of my adult life.

    "I often wonder why they were married in the first place. And I wonder what would life be like if they had decided to fight for their marriage instead of with one another? What if they had put working together to build a healthy marriage and family at the top of their priority list? What if they had stayed true to their marriage vows and honored the Sacrament?"

    I ask these questions, too! I see my parents as they are as adults and think -- HOW did they ever think they should marry each other??? But then I wonder if the MARRIAGE had been at the top of their priority list instead of their own dreams individually...would they have changed into different people?

    I'm so glad you wrote this and I agree with you. A little part of every day is spent working to forgive my parents their transgressions.

    someone once told me that a divorce is never "final" until the kids have passed on. The older I get, the more I believe that is true. And it doesn't mean we don't forgive...it just means the impact lasts THAT long.

    Someday when I hope to meet the Lord face-to-face, I know I will understand His plan in it all....some days that keeps me from kicking and screaming. Some days. :)

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  2. I love that quote at the end. Such a good reminder about how we should forgive and treat others. I need to apply it today!

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  3. My parents stayed together, but I often struggle with anger towards them by all of the lies they told me, and all of the restrictions I had. I sometimes wonder how life would have been different if I'd been allowed to have friends, or go to college, or been encouraged in the things that I liked to do, and it makes me feel trapped sometimes, like I am what they told me I was, no matter how badly I want to be different. I love your thoughts on this, I'm feeling more and more as though forgiveness is a journey, not an arrival. And I am still learning to forgive myself for all the times I passed on the abuse that I was taught.

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  4. I remember the story of Corrie ten Boom, late in her life at a speaking engagement in a church, and there on the front row she saw one of the German soldiers who had tortured her and killed her family in the concentration camp. He came to her afterward and asked for her forgiveness. She gave it to him, but she wrote of how forgiveness was like pulling the cord on a ringing bell. You pull the cord to forgive, but the ringing of pain continues... it lessens over time, but it's still there.

    Don't know if that helps or not, but just know that God sees your heart to forgive even when it's not easy. I'm proud of you, friend. And I'm praying.

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  5. This morning at daily mass, the priest talked about 2 different kinds of anger: the kind that erupts suddenly but then you let it go, and the kind that stays and stays. I talked to him after mass and told him that my husband must have called him. He said, "you have to learn to let it go. What if you didn't, and you took your last breath during the night?" This priest is one smart man.

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  6. Once again all I have to say is that you are beautiful- broken, but beautiful. I don't understand, so I can't say more. But you are walking with God, and there is love.

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  7. Wow...how deeply this spoke to me.

    "I wonder what would life be like if they had decided to fight for their marriage instead of with one another?"

    I think I might use that as a mantra,

    'I wonder what ____ would be like if I decide to fight for (truth, forgiveness, etc.) rather than with someone else.'

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  8. This is amazing. It's almost like poetry, painful and beautiful at the same time. You've got an incredible spirit and perspective, sister.

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  9. I love this post, Rebecca. And can relate to every word. My parents divorced 22 years ago and I continue to struggle with many of the same things you do. Beautifully written--you have a gift. :)

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