“Forgiveness does not change the past but it does enlarge the future.”
Recently, I was fortunate enough to have some quality time with my Bestie Ryan. She and I are often busy adulting, so I really cherish the time we have to catch up. We talked about many things, but one thing stood out. She brought up the importance of unblocking your chakras. She’s becoming such a guru with this (and should totally write a blog about it). In talking more, she connected the thought to one gleaming commonality her and I both share: we were raised by a single parent.
Ryan spoke on how elements of your past can literally block your potential from being realized. The conversation stayed with me even after we parted. So often you hear, “Forgiveness is not for the other person, it is for you.” But it is so true! The pain we hold on to affects our present health and relationships. Another way to think of it is, in not forgiving, you pay the consequence. Studies have shown that people who don’t forgive often have higher stress, blood pressure, anxiety, and physical pain. They even live shorter lives!
It made me think about my own relationship with my dad. Even writing that word “dad” hits me differently today, as it wasn’t a way I referenced him in the past. Growing up, I knew who my dad was. I knew where he lived, and had often visited with my (paternal) grandmother, brothers, aunt, uncle, and cousin. My mother was very open and supportive in that she kept the doors open and the opinions neutral. However, in thinking about the moments that made up my childhood, my dad wasn’t there. As I became an adult, our interactions increased. Looking back on it, it was me that was more standoffish. I had support at that point, and had gotten over a lot of the hard stuff. Why would forming and having a relationship NOW be a necessity? So, the interactions we had at that point were often one-sided. I’d smile and grin. Never really opening my life or myself.
When I told him I was pregnant with his very first grandchild, he told me she was his opportunity to make it right. I realized he couldn’t really “make it right” until I unpacked and released my own feelings of resentment. This process is teaching me a few things:
Forgiving is not forgetting. Moving on from hurt is not excusing or ignoring the infraction done. One reason I didn’t fully forgive was because he was wrong, and needed to know it. Freedom came for me when I realized that my feelings of hurt from his absence are completely separate from the act of forgiving. Forgiveness is less about justice and more about grace. Grace that I pray my daughter will have for me when (not if) I make mistakes as a parent.
Forgiveness turns a wall into a window. Now that I am genuinely open, my dad has been present for moments that matter now. I thought the hard stuff was over…I was wrong. Forgiveness is truly a gift to my child and me as we both are blessed to have him to survive and thrive.
I am proud of the work that my dad and I have done thus far. Moreover, I relish (to the point that it makes me emotional) the thought that my daughter has the opportunity to grow knowing him as the person he is now and not who he was.
What are your thoughts on forgiveness? I would love to hear your stories in the comments below!
Love Without Fear,