Second chances, we get them sometimes. A chance to make amends, to forgive or be forgiven. I had one of those come up for me recently. When my mom died hurt feelings were left behind with 2 people who I have known and loved my entire life. Circumstances around honoring my mothers wishes fell to me. And because of that I had to make choices that did not include them. And I always felt they were mad at me, that they held me responsible. And I really hated that, but I didn’t know how to make it right.
Now 3 years have passed, and I get a Christmas card from them. First one ever. It was in response to my sisters illness, just saying thank you for watching out for her. A nice card. It opened the door a little bit for me. I thought I should call and thank them, but I was afraid. Afraid all the pain of my mother dying would be fresh again,afraid all the decisions would have to justified. Afraid the card was not really an opening, but just a politeness. So I sat the card aside, but never let it go in my mind.
Lately something has been changing inside me. I want to clean up my side of the street. I want to heal wounds I have carried and created. I want to be open and honest and real. More and more I am telling people I love them. Not just my family, I have always said that to them, not even old friends, they know that. But those people who are important to me. Who I love and maybe I have never said that to them.
I think somewhere in my mind saying “I love you” carried some responsibility, some sense of commitment….scary stuff to me. That is kind of shifting for me. Now loving you, means I love you. I care about you, I care that you are happy and healthy. That your life has value to me. That I am joyful to be with you. I does not mean I owe you, or I am responsible for you. i do not have to make you happy. I do not have to heal you. I can simply Love you. For me, this is freeing, it opens the door to all kinds of Love.
Back to the card….. Yesterday I called them. I was a little hoping I would get the answering machine. But no, she answered. After the first couple of sentences the awkwardness was gone. I simply said “Thank you for sending the card, it meant a lot to me”. And then we just started talking, about family, about life. We brushed on my mother but did not dwell there. Maybe someday I can explain, maybe I don’t need to. Maybe it is done and forgiven without words. This is what I know, before we hung up she said ” I love you, please stay in touch”. And I felt forgiven, I felt so much guilt disappear. I felt healing in my soul.
But here is the deal, I was lucky. They are still here for me to have had that conversation with. I am ever aware it could be different. If something would have happened I would have never known I was forgiven. I know forgiveness starts inside. I know the real forgiveness is me forgiving myself. And on many levels I have done that. I was in an impossible circumstance and I did my very best. I forgive myself for any missteps I made during that time. But a piece of me needed to know they were okay with me, that they understood and still loved me. And I got that chance, I had that moment.
So don’t wait, don’t wonder. Timing is important. In the thick of things it is hard to get a true perspective, from either side. But don’t drag it out. I waited three years, anything could have happened during that time. I would have carried those thoughts (that were not even true) for the rest of my life. I would have always wondered.
I must look at my self also. Where do I need to forgive? What am I holding on to? If someone needs a second chance with me, am I ready? Have I healed? Can I be gracious and be open to the idea we can have a better ending? I want to be that person, I am working towards that. Maybe just taking the first step is half the battle.
I have to let go of ego, or the I am justified feeling. I need to take down the fences I keep up because I think they keep me safe from rejection. Looking inside myself I don’t want to carry those feelings. Those feelings stand in the way of my good, those feelings keep me trapped. Perhaps those feelings at some point protected me from what I perceived as vulnerability or further hurt. There comes a time when those walls do more to keep me in than others out.
I know now to grow I must be vulnerable, I must willing to be open and honest. I think most of my growth has come through pain. Joy is wonderful. Happiness, peace, these are places my soul can rest in. But pain, growth, soul searching, vulnerability, these places make me strong and whole. I must experience it all to be complete.
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. Kahlil Gibran.
So be willing to open the shell, to grow and see a different ending. Be willing to forgive and be forgiven. Forgiveness is not about condoning bad behavior or letting anyone use you, or lessen the person you are. Forgiveness (for me) is about letting go of the picture I thought should have happened and accepting what really did. It is about moving past that moment, taking the lesson and growing into a new idea or belief. It is about seeing the relationship in its wholeness, not just one piece of it. It is about letting go, moving on, and being free. Free from anger, free from bitterness, free from pain.
If you have a chance, if your moment comes, take it. Whether it is about forgiving or being forgiven, it is one coin. There is wholeness when both sides come together. You cannot have one without the other. Even if what ends up happening is you forgive yourself, that is enough. That is more than enough. Still, there is a certain beauty when two souls come together in healing.
May your life be filled with second chances.
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