Monday, April 7, 2014

My Journey to Forgiveness--My Messy Beautiful


ß You know there are people in the world that make you a little crazy.  They make your hair stand on end, your eyes cross, and fire seep from your nose, ears and eyes.  They simply drive you NUTS. Sometimes, this person is you, or me since I’m writing about my own version of being in the wrong.  If you had someone take a picture of you when you are most inflamed by these individuals, it’s probably not a very pretty picture.  I’ve often thought if I gave my family a camera to snap a shot of me when I was at my most upset, it might be a good behavior modification intervention because, let’s face it, no one looks very nice when they are their own form of crazy.  But the truth of the matter is that there are people who make us crazy.  They make us mad and we might not be our most stellar selves when we are confronted with difficult individuals.  Faced with our most difficult people, it’s often difficult to remember “soft over comes hard."

In my mind, when dealing with difficult people I look like thisà
I think first, talk second and always consider the other person in my conversations.  The reality is very different.

Depending on the person, the emotion invovled, and the situation, sometimes we need someone else to pray for us.  [See my previous blog, “Sometimes you need someone else to do the praying” (http://christwalk40day.blogspot.com/2014/02/sometimes-you-need-someone-else-to-do.html).]
Sometimes, however, we are the crazy person and we need to find a path to forgiveness.
My daddy always told me it takes two to tango.  That means in the road to forgiveness, there are two people involved.  When it’s you, the first step is recognizing you did something wrong.  There have been three incidents in my life that haunted me as an individual where I desperately need reconciliation.  I did three different things to three different people that sat on the back of my soul as things I needed to make right.  I realized that I needed forgiveness for being a crazy person.
The first individual, I’m actually not sure what I did wrong.  I still don’t, but I know I lost a beautiful friendship along the way.  Many years after the friendship dissolved, I tried to reach out to this individual and said, “Hey, I’m sorry.  I don’t know what I did, but I’m sorry.  I miss your friendship.”  I got crickets.
The second person I wronged, I said some really horrible things.  If there was a defensible moment, I said these things when I was a hurting, sick, and lonely teenager, but I said them to a friend.  These words dissolved a friendship.  Again, many years later, this wrong sat on my heart.  I reconnected with this individual and said, “Hey, I’m sorry I was such a jerk.  I know I was speaking out of my illness, but I had no right to take it out on you.”  She’s gone on to be a good friend.  She forgave me and stood up as a bridesmaid in my wedding.  I am blessed by her friendship and her forgiveness.
The third person I wronged, I spoke in haste.  I said some words that weren’t intended to be hurtful but was not kind.  I felt shame, not only because what I said wasn’t supposed to be overheard by the individual, but I shouldn’t have said what I said to begin with.  I made an assumption about someone, made remarks along those lines and this individual heard me speak.  I should have listened to my momma who taught me that, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  I wrote this individual a letter and apologized in person.  I owed her that.  She’s a kind person, and I was truly in the wrong.  While she said she forgave me, in truth, the damage was done.  I lost a beautiful person in my life because I spoke without thinking.
We all have these moments.  None of us are angels no matter what we might think in our head.  There isn’t a person out there that doesn’t need to look at something they did and just say, “I’m sorry.”  In all three of these instances, even where I did not get a response, my road to forgiveness started with me.  I had to first ask for forgiveness, then forgive myself and allow that person to either be forgiving, or let it go.  I did what I needed to do, and the burden off my shoulders was amazing. 
Asking forgiveness didn’t cost me a thing; maybe my pride, but that’s not worth much to begin with.  What I gained out of the process of forgiveness was invaluable.  I gained joy, peace and love.  That’s far more valuable  to me than anything.