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Forgiveness

Me and Mom

It took me five years to return home, to visit my mother. That’s a long time, I know, and causes a lot of curiosity about all of my reasons. Often, reasons are a distraction; labels that give a justification why I’m not doing something.

I’d count up the years and after awhile not going even seemed like my new normal. I’d hear others talk about their holiday visits home and I felt no connection. It was easier to stay away, it was that simple. However, something else was growing on the inside at the same time.

Faith in something better.

That faith got me to start making a phone call to my mother at least once a week when normally we spoke every six months, or even more. A kernel of hope or optimism that God really does exist and really is unconditional Love got me to ignore the conversations that would have normally wounded me and I changed the subject instead. Maybe there was more to learn.

Forgiveness carried me the rest of the way. Not the kind of forgiveness where I judged my mother and decided I would let it go. That’s still me standing on high and deciding not only am I better in general, I’m really compassionate too. Look at me.

My mother, my son

I was learning through action a subtler kind of forgiveness that has more to do with myself and what I’m capable of, including letting go of all that’s happened, didn’t happen and live in the day I’ve been given, instead.

What matters is I returned home, which just means the place where my mother lives now, and spent a long weekend sitting next to her, driving her around and just being without wanting something in return. I was even reminded that she has a wicked sense of humor and often goes out of her way to be fair, even generous.

The strangest part I’ve found is that when I go into anything without expectations the riches find me and I walk away with more than I ever expected. All of the grasping generally leaves me with less.

The place where all of the resentment and anger sat is left empty for God to fill. A vacuum is always filled. More adventures to follow.

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Tower of Forgiveness at Burning Man Festival

Holding any past event in our heart and mind that doesn’t sit well with us is a design flaw meant to drive us crazy. How else to explain our unique ability to pull out yet again what happened in a long-lost childhood and relive the pain as if it were happening now. Scientists have even proven that the brain doesn’t know the difference between what is actually happening and what we have chosen to drum up and it suffers the same chemical wash the first time as the 130th time we yank it back out again.

No other living creature has the ability to do that. Dogs and cats may learn to mistrust and growl at the sight of you or to come running when you get to the door but as far as we know they aren’t sitting there in the living room all alone stewing over that time you cut the walk short. That’s our talent and we love to do it. We know the harm it causes and we still do it.

If we could get back the hours we’ve used up retelling the past we would probably just watch more television but at least we’d be sparing each other the trauma of listening to some ordeal where we weren’t even present. That element always startles me. Not only do we drag out our own stories but we will also listen to others and add to the catalogue in our brain. Then we’ll pay to go to movies that show even more kinds of emotional and physical suffering and watch that too. We are a race of drama queens. It has to be a mistake like an evolutionary spit-up. It would be so much better if we could stop the fascination with the parts that don’t turn out the way we would have liked.

But then, we would never have the opportunity to learn to forgive. That is our greatest blessing in disguise because the ability to forgive is at the root of our humanity. Every time we choose to turn away from the rut and let go out of compassion for someone else we suddenly find compassion for ourselves and everything becomes easier. We find out we are enough, just as we are. That’s our greatest fear, another odd little human twist, that we are just not enough for this life.

This is where forgiveness steps in to teach us how to love. Real forgiveness is love in disguise, the blessing, because it requires us to hand it over without conditions. If you had to start listing how it’s going to be before you can forgive you need to start over because that’s not forgiveness, that’s control, maybe even revenge depending on the list of demands.

Forgiveness remains illusory for so many but there is an easier path to the bliss and it starts with a change in focus. [click to continue…]

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