The Final Forgiveness

There are those who hurt us and infuriate us, people who forever remain oblivious to the harm they are doing. They are locked into their own understanding of what is good and right.

You want to honor all they’ve done for you, but seeing them comes with a price. It is a constant battle of wanting to rise above knowing you will only be dragged below by your good intentions.

At what point do you let go?

It is best, purest, if it can be done now and the issues are put behind you. But they are difficult to let go of. We are human; we are — on both sides — in many ways locked into who we are and what we believe. It protects us, guides us and provides us with clarity. So perhaps you forgive, only to be set up once again for a battle of wills and false understanding. It is a vicious cycle.

Then you hear: he is dying. He is hanging on, but soon will be gone.

It is time for a final forgiveness, an acknowledgement of our own failings and the knowledge that the temporal, in the end, is a wisp of smoke, dissipating into thin air.

It is time, but it is still hard. You haven’t been heard. There have been assumptions and presumptions that wound. Rumors and lies that become fact in the minds of others.

What does it matter? His death isn’t the final word because you go on living. What matters most?

Refine me, O Lord, open my blind eyes and lead me down the path of forgiveness.


Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

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moving slowly

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
― Confucius

I’ve been moving slowly for a very long time. But, I’ve been moving.

The clock dawdles, or so it seems, when you’re waiting for change. If you’re watching and waiting, it may be times are hard and you’re looking for a better situation. Something that makes you happy to wake up in the morning.

At times the challenges may be so overwhelming you need time to recuperate. Recovering from an unfamiliar and frightening situation can be difficult, to say the least. We seek safety and comfort first, and change second.

That’s what happened to me a few years ago. I found myself overwhelmed by circumstances over which I truly had no control. I wasn’t sure who my friends were, and out of fear they’d all deserted me, I avoided everyone.

Eventually things began to right themselves.

A close friend reached out to me and told me the truth about what others were thinking. It was good. I found new friends, a new job, and for the first time in 15 years, I bought a new car.

I learned something through all of this. Before we can truly move forward, we need a level of security. Simply finding that solid strength within ourselves can be moving forward, despite how a lack of change in circumstances may appear to others.

There were those in my life frustrated by my slow recovery. Thankfully, others recognized how lost I was and how much healing I really needed.

If you’re struggling,

sunrise in savanna_

whatever your situation, allow time to restore your energies, and forgive yourself for not bouncing back like a child’s punching toy clown. Some things aren’t meant to be rushed. The smallest step is enough.

When times are hard, our hope is in anticipation of a promising future. It’s there, waiting for us. Life works that way. Can I guarantee that for everyone? No, that’s not within my power. But it’s what I’ve seen in the lives of those closest to me, especially friends I’ve known for decades.

Every move forward, now matter how slow, is taking you where you want to go. And really, we don’t always know how far we’re going to have to go anyway. The next step may surprise us with unexpected joy.


Image Credit:(top) hourglass © Alexey Klementiev; sky © Pakhnyushchyy; lights © mehmetcanturkei; background © averroe — All, stock.adobe.com. (Bottom) © GraphicStock.com

Learning the Way — and the Other Way

Today a co-worker said, “there is always a solution to a problem. You just have to find it.”

We went on to joke that the solution might be passive-aggressive behavior or staging a strike, but I took his point to heart. In all honesty, there likely are times we reach a dead end. But in those cases, the solution may be to start over.

I’m no Pollyanna, but I believe in maintaining hope rather than despair. I remember my mom cruelly saying optimism doesn’t get things done, and sending me into a figurative corner for believing in the future. I’m past that now; I look at my life and clearly such thinking has worked in my favor.

With the mindset that there is a solution, we’re more likely to find one. When we’re ahead in life, we are apt to let things go that we would fight for in tougher times. Creative solutions step forward when our options have run out yet we still need to get the job done.

Fear might keep some from stepping out of the shadows to make themselves known. It isn’t easy to bark a little louder and risk being snubbed, but the alternative is to timidly wait for opportunities to shine light in your dark corners. Opportunity may find its home long before that happens.

Change is a constant, and remaining on the same path you trod five or ten years ago could keep you from moving forward. You can fight the new ideas or learn how to work with alternate factors. Not always easy when the old way seemed to be working for you (and that may only be an illusion), but necessary. What’s more, it’s likely to open doors for you.

I’m learning the way myself, and it winds and turns every time I think I have it down. But the alternative is boredom — something I’m no good with.


Image Credit: © Brian Jackson — stock.adobe.com

moving forward

Earlier this week I alluded to the “rabbit’s hole” I speak of in this post.  In honor of a new era,  I’m reposting this piece, a favorite of mine:

A few weeks ago I found myself sitting alone in a crowd, anxiously searching for a familiar face.

I was expecting a friend — until her text  told me not to. Now I was faced with sitting by myself at a celebratory service that would no doubt be an emotional, spiritual, uplifting experience (it was). I started looking for anyone I might know, a bit nervous but not wanting to seem so.

Thankfully, someone did appear, a more than gregarious man, well-known for being a bit of a character.  I’d only met him once for all of thirty seconds, but I didn’t hesitate to call out his name and invite him to join me. He did, and it made that service a whole heck of a lot of fun.

It wasn’t until days later it hit me:

this was not only the first time I’d had the courage to do something that bold, but I hadn’t thought twice about it. For years I’d sat alone in services and what-have-you, often because I was too frightened to reach out to someone and ask them to join me.

This was another significant change in me I could count as the result of terrible betrayal.

All my life I struggled with being pushed around by co-workers, boyfriends, classmates, even family. I simply could not stand up for myself. Try as I might, I was unable to say what needed to be said, or even imagine what that should be. Instead I would stand there, dumbstruck, humiliated and frustrated.

I desperately wanted the ability to detect when others were pushing me around.

That is, if I were sharp enough to see what was going on. Sometimes I’d be pushed pretty far before I realized it.

When that happened, I was left with shrinking further or getting back at people, although more often than not they brought on their own trouble with their back-handed behavior. I didn’t like dealing with things either way, however, it never felt good.

Instead, I desperately wanted the ability to detect when others were pushing me around and belittling me long before it got out of hand. More than that, I wanted to project an attitude that precluded demeaning treatment. I just couldn’t come by it. I had no idea how it worked.

Eventually I was pushed down a rabbits’ hole into a hell that wouldn’t end,

and it was that experience (a story requiring too much detail to go into here) that finally gave me the insight and ability to stay ahead of those who would defeat me. It took a long time, well after the peak of the horror, to fully develop the skills to face others with confidence and enough of a take-it-or-leave-it attitude that I could claim victory. Have I fully stepped away from the problem? Likely not, but I’ve figured out what steps to take.

I also realize I need to use those circumstances to my advantage, to work toward bringing me to a point where I can say, “well, I wouldn’t want to go through that again, but I’m glad it happened.”

I’m not sure when, if ever, I’ll be there, but I look to the good that’s come of out this, and it has been substantial. I used to resent being told “everything happens for a reason.”  While I believe good can come from bad, that doesn’t justify the bad.

I like what Dumas had to say. It acknowledges the bad, but gives proper credit to an overwhelming and affirming end result:

“Women are never so strong as after their defeat.”
― Alexandre Dumas, Queen Margot, or Marguerite de Valois

blue sky balloons

I hate that it took such drastic circumstances to bring about this change for me, and I sometimes wonder, if those events hadn’t conspired, would I still be where I was then, or would I have found another way to grow to where I am today?

I don’t want those responsible for my plight to believe there’s any justification to their actions. Likely they would have preferred I was left in defeat & despair anyway. Is success the best revenge? I don’t know that I’m seeking revenge, but success is by far the best outcome.


Image Credits: Butterfly field (Field of Daisies) © adimas – Fotolia; (Butterfly) © ecco — Fotolia; Balloons Flying High (Sky Background) © Andrii Salivon – Fotolia; (Balloons) © JRB – Fotolia.

Rules, Respect, and Giving a Rip

There was a time when, with a carload of friends, I, as the driver, was caught in a stop-and-go situation in a parking ramp after a basketball game.

“Look!” my friend Kathy said, pointing at another car. “They’re going the opposite direction! Let’s do that!”

We should have, and I had a split second to decide. There was no law, no rule really, against it. Nothing would’ve happened other than getting out of that ramp an hour or so earlier. But I couldn’t do it. The signs told us which way to exit. Going the other way was wrong.

I can’t help myself. I’m a rule follower.

I’ll tell myself and everyone else I’m being respectful, but bottom line, I’m scared of getting in trouble.

You bet I follow the red light/green light rules. Always have, always will.
You bet I follow the red light/green light rules. Always have, always will.

I even make sure I’m going in the “Enter” door when I shop at Walmart, and veer to the other side if I find I’m headed for the “Exit” door by mistake. Keep in mind the automatic doors have sensors on both sides, and no one so much as blinks if you go through the “wrong” door. On your average shopping day, there’s no danger or inconvenience in entering through the exit door (on Black Friday, it is, of course, a different story).

This wouldn’t bother me so much if I didn’t feel like I was being controlled by these rules. That, I think, is the dividing line for me between what is right and what is compulsive. I do not, for example, compulsively follow traffic laws. I do it for two reasons: safety, and I don’t want to get a ticket.

No, make that three reasons. It’s the law. Following it is what you do.

When I was in college — the first time —

it was a VERY conservative school, and students could receive what were called “minutes” for infractions of a plethora of really stupid rules. I think breathing too loudly on Saturday morning before 10 a.m. was one of them.

You’d get three minutes per infringement, and if you flouted your rebellion to a point of getting 30 minutes, you received what was called a “campus”, and “volunteered” three hours of your time to the school pulling weeds or some such.

In the history of the school, only a handful of students had made it until graduation without any minutes. I could’ve been one of them, except for two things: 1) I didn’t graduate, and 2) one Saturday morning I slipped up and talked to another student in the bathroom before 10 a.m. (I almost wasn’t kidding above).

She talked to me first, but no matter. And she was an RA, so I was screwed.

It would’ve been good for me to blast my radio

after hours a night or two, or (really bad) show up after curfew (there may have been more serious consequences for that. And, oh yes, curfew). It would’ve been really good for me to kiss a guy on campus (again, I’m serious, a violation of school policy), but that rarely was an option anyway.

I say it would have been a good thing for me because I might have understood what I only now am fully grasping: breaking certain rules doesn’t make you a bad person, or even untrustworthy. There are boundaries and I probably held mine closer than was healthy.

Certainly I didn’t need to trap me and my friends in that parking garage for more than an hour. If I’d gone the wrong way, worst case scenario half the other cars might have followed me. As it was, my decision cast a pall on the evening; that’s what we always remembered about an otherwise fun night.

Who's in Charge smStill, old dogs, new tricks. Forget dogs — I should be like my cats. They (reluctantly) follow the few rules I absolutely enforce and don’t give a rip about much of anything I else I ask of them. Somehow they know what really matters. I rarely reprimand them, or think any less of them for their indifference.


Photo credit (stoplight): © Graphic Stock; (Kitty and Candy) © geosap — stock.adobe.com

 

Consistently Changing

“Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.”
― Bernard Berenson

Hmmm. I get his point, but there’s value in consistency, too. Depends on your consistent pattern. Do you routinely come home, watch the same TV shows and eat one of the same three frozen dinners? Or are you someone who can be counted to stay up-to-date with current events, give comfort to a grieving friend, or dare to have your hair cut shorter than its ever been?

If you’re consistently exploring, you’ll be wiser and more informed a year from now.

A balance of routine and exploration helps prevent both chaos and lethargy. There is comfort in routine, although in the first scenario described above, I’d recommend you add a class (or perhaps a book club) and learn how to cook at least two new meals.

Having a regular pattern gives you structure, a foundation to build on the daring side of you. It also helps you be on time and maintain healthy habits. But the person so committed to that same schedule that they pass by on the bountiful opportunities our world offers is somewhat boring.

I got to wondering what I’ll learn in the next year. I’m not anxious for tough lessons, but rather, new insight into the world around me and the people I love. It means I have to get out of my comfort zone a little more and be willing to ask questions that might leave me vulnerable.

Vulnerable, because I don’t like looking ignorant or naÏve. Thank goodness for the Internet and search engines. But there are limits to what you can learn from Wikipedia, and I want to break those boundaries.

I’ve changed so much in the last few years, and sometimes I forget what I’ve accomplished. The difference is subtle sometimes, but I’m proud to say I’m consistently changing.

 

Three Years Stronger

Annually, I re-post my very first blog post.

Written on Christmas day 2014, it reflects the pain I was feeling then, as well as my resolve and hope. The latter, thankfully, still remains, but the loneliness and pain have left me. I’ve grown and changed since that day, and while the truth of what I wrote still reflects a part of myself, I’m standing stronger, in part because of the process of writing and the support of fellow bloggers. Thank you.

So here’s the original post, just as I wrote it then. Many of you likely haven’t seen it, but I know some of you did when I previously re-posted it.

Blessings to all of you!

resolutions and revelations

you bought me the book

I’m not motivated by New Year’s Resolutions. No surprise there, most people aren’t. No surprise what does motivate me either: trying to impress someone important to me is always a big one. Problem is, that comes and goes. Here’s the reason that actually works: finally realizing my life is truly better and I’m going to attract better things when I do things the right way. And typically it has taken failure in my life, and some humiliation, to get to that realization.

My friends say, oh, we each worry about those things a lot more than others do. After all, we have to live with our own failings, our stupidity, our repeated efforts to resolve what’s gone wrong with yet one more foolish gesture.

Right now I’m faced with what seems to me to be huge failure brought on by circumstances I had no control over. Wisdom from others tells me to learn to control what I can and live with what I can’t, but what I can’t control has taken over and felled me. Now I need to stand up and return to where I was only a short time ago. But will I fall again? Probably. That which I do not control will always be with me, and I fear that those I care about will leave me.

So I must do what I can to perhaps ward off the beast that follows me everywhere for longer than before. I must learn from this and pray I have another chance that will allow me to succeed. I weep at the thought I won’t, and realize I now have little control over that, but in and of itself there could stand a truth I need to learn. Truth that belies what I have held so dear for so long.

I face difficult yet not insurmountable odds. I tell myself I can take advantage with hard work and fierce resolve, with fortitude and purpose. No trite quotes for me, but strength of mind and character prevail. This year was better than last. I can’t guarantee next year will be better than this, but I’m hopeful it will be.


Image Credits (header) © Bigstockphotos.com