I love our church. I love the pastor. I love how I can walk out of service each week and feel like the sermon was for me. All me. The current series is on praying and how it can change your life. And how little of it we do and when we DO pray it is usually during times of duress. Two Sundays ago, the lead pastor made a comment that has forced me to really turn introspective: he said are you living a life filled with bitterness and unable/willing to forgive? Why yes, I am. But the question was WHOSE forgiveness did I need?
About 18 months ago, friends of 8 years severed their friendship with us. While we had had some recent difficulties, assurances from them that "we have this connection" and "everything was back to better than good" seemed to diminish as we pushed for a reason why. The reason? "Other people" wouldn't like it if they continued their friendship with us so they were taking the path of least resistance.
I spent several months digging through my memory and pulling up each of my transgressions, some real, some imagined and apologizing for them, because I simply couldn't wrap my brain around who outside of 7th grade allows someone else to dictate who their friends can be? When that didn't change, I sat back to examine our friendship and came to some startling (for me, for my husband not so startling) realizations. The fault lay completely and totally with me.
You see, I wanted the friendship so badly that I ignored that voice in the back of my head that said something was not right here. It was mostly character issues where each time a circumstance happened, I shrugged off the voice, convincing myself that it was an aberration without considering that there seem to be A LOT of these aberrations. It was also 8 years of being the house that hosted dinners and parties, being the one to buy concert tickets or play tickets, of making the vacation reservations with little reciprocation. But here is the thing...THIS was who they are. They never hid this or pretended differently so how can I be surprised when something "better" comes along that we are dropped like a dirty diaper. Am I sad at this? Sure I am. But I think my bitterness and unforgiving attitude is more self directed. I CHOSE to place a higher value on the friendship than they did. I CHOSE to ignore the warnings my head was giving me. And my choice cost me.
Oddly enough, my sister in law was with us for the church service and commented that there was a really good article in a recent Oprah magazine on Letting Go that references Frank Luskin, a PhD from Stanford in counseling and health psychology and cofounder and director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project. I just needed to know who I was seeking to forgive. The mirror helped.
But while forgiveness concepts are simple, executing them are a little tougher. "Forgiveness requires you to let go of your anger and hurt by being mindful and focusing on gratitude and kindness." Tough? For me, you bet. Aren't we our own worst critic? But with Easter being this Sunday, I have decided that this is what I am going to do. Because I NEED to. I simply cannot continue to berate myself. Since Spring and Easter are times of rebirth, I decided that this will be my time to emerge as a forgiven soul.Back to do overs. I know everyone always wants the opportunity to do something over, because we usually learn from our mistakes. But I understand why we can't. Those mistakes make us who we are today. Even if we did have the opportunity for do overs, while we probably wouldn't make the same mistakes, we'd still make other mistakes, and hopefully we'd learn from them as well, and then our life would become like the movie Groundhogs Day. Then where would we be? No. I don't need a do over. What I need is forgiveness. And I'm in the execution process of that.