Saturday, August 27, 2011
Forgiveness; Easier said than done.
People who know me and know me well would have a hard time believing it but I have a problem with forgiveness. Yes it's true. These days, when someone does something that bothers me I let them know right away and go on with my life. So I am not adding people to “the list” these days even though one of my favorite sayings is; “You just made the list.” (a line from the movie "Stripes") And truth be known, that list is my hate list. Yes I have one and I have always had one even though it is no longer growing.
As I matured, I was able to clear my list for the most part but there were a few people who have remained on it. These were people who over my life hurt me deeply, leaving scars that have stayed with me. But I recently realized that keeping this hatred, even tucked deeply away is robbing me of my ability to totally be happy. So I have decided to let it go, to forget and forgive. So let me clear the air and get some things off my chest and put this list behind me. Some of these may sound foolish or meaningless to you but for me they were huge.
First was that little red haired boy in grade school: You know who you are. You chased me around and hit me every chance you got. You took or smashed my lunches whenever you found where I hid them. Many times you didn’t find my lunch bag hidden deep in the bushes but it would be full of ants when I went to eat lunch. What you didn’t know was that we were poor. My parents had to scrape to make that jelly sandwich. I didn’t mind the punches but I needed that food and often went hungry. And to this day if I get an ant in my food I won’t eat it. I throw it away. But since you were probably a product of bad parents and doing it to get attention, I forgive you.
All you jocks that picked on me in Junior high and made fun of me by playing mean tricks on me, and all those “it” girls who laughed when I was the brunt of those jokes: You just don’t know how much you changed my life. You set the stage for my shyness and I crawled inside my shell and refused to reach out to anyone for over 25 years. It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s that I realized that people do like me and not all people are evil. So you took away a big part of my life but I still forgive you.
My baseball coach, I hated you in the worst way: You never gave me a chance to prove myself. You only let me play when the game was already won and you sat there quietly while the players played jokes on me in the dugout. But the biggest thing I ever hated you for was the time that you embarrassed me like I have never been embarrassed before or after that day. It was most likely nothing to you but those scars have stayed with me for over 40 years. All I wanted was a chance to prove myself.
So when the big game came and we were behind by one run in the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded and me up, I just knew it was going to be the day. But you told me just to stand there and not swing. You told me to lean into the plate and either get hit by the ball or take the walk. A walk means we tie you said, and the next guy may get a hit. You told me "if I swung I was off the team" and I wanted to belong to something so bad that I did as you told me even though they threw easy pitches over the plate that I knew I could hit. So I stood there while they called; strike one, strike two, strike three, you’re out, as my father watched from the bleachers and I listened to the sound of laughter. I couldn’t even look him in the eye on that ride home and I never played organized sports again. But I forgive you for putting that game above my feelings. It was wrong but I forgive you.
My ex-wife. Wow you sure messed up a lot of people’s lives. I won’t go into details but it was the lying that made me divorce you. To this day I still don’t know how you could put your hand on a Bible and swear to God that you didn’t do what you did. And then when the evidence came out that you were lying you couldn’t find the words to say; I’m sorry. But all that is behind me now so I forgive you too. But you better ask someone else for forgiveness.
My mother: What can I say? Most people would find it hard to imagine that you can love and hate the same person. Trust me though, it is possible. My mother’s favorite nursery rhyme was; “There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. And when she was good she was very very good but when she was bad she was horrid. “ I think she was talking about herself. We had good times when I was young, lots of them. And not that many bad times either. But when they were bad they were very very bad. My mother was bi-polar back when bi-polar wasn’t cool. And that was back before they even knew what it was so there was nothing to take for it. Needless to say, I had to dodge a lot of thrown dishes. So for all the times you hurt me, I forgive you. Just because you are my mother.
Some would naturally assume that I hate my brothers. The ones that are hooked on drugs that is. But the truth is I don’t hate them. I pity them, pray for them and keep my distance but I don’t hate them. I do however hate the drugs, and I hate what they have become.
I saved the best for last. Or should I say the hardest to forgive for last. “Me”. Over my lifetime, I did a lot of things that I am not proud of and there were a few people that I hurt as I went along my path. It was never malicious or intentional but I hurt them just the same. And even though I said; I’m sorry, I never forgave myself. If you are one of those people, again, I am sorry. Would you please forgive me?
So today I am throwing away my hate list because it is just too heavy to carry around anymore. I am putting hatred behind me. And if you were one of the ones on my list I hope you forgive me for hating you in the first place. In reality, I am not sure if ever really hated you personally as much as I hated your actions. There, it's done and I feel better already.
And as always, have a great day,