Forgiving can be painfully difficult.

As a Christian, I’m required by my faith to be forgiving; even to those who refuse to forgive me. I am however not required by my faith to forget and therein is the rub … at least for me. There are a couple of reasons for the rub. How do I forgive completely when my brain won’t let me forget that I was the recipient of emotional pain? My Webster’s dictionary defines “forgive” this way: “To give up resentment or claim to requital on account of;” To give up “claim to requital on account of” is fairly easy to do, but resentment? That’s a whole other ball game. How does one remember emotional pain without resentment?
When I was in early recovery from my alcoholism one of the primary things necessary to sustained recovery was addressing and then abandoning whatever resentments I had tucked away in my battered brain. I had quite a few; the most significant of which was the resentments I had against my ex-wife. I had nursed those like a precious child for years. I had a favorite comment which I utilized frequently when talking about her and it was this: “I wish I’d known how dead serious that preacher was when he said ‘till death do you part.’” The reason for the attitude was her habit of letting an issue lie dormant for years and then for no apparent reason resurrect the perceived affront, usually in hope of financial gain, but often out of simple vendictiveness. At any rate, I did eventually come to a reasonably sustainable absence of resentment.
One of the benefits of writing my memoir was that I was finally forced to actually take a hard look at my part in the disaster that our relationship evolved into. The mere fact alone, of realizing that other people who knew us both would likely read what I was putting down on paper, caused me to accept, in print, all the wrongs I’d committed. I gained a greater sense of peace and forgiveness which bore the fruit of releasing the resentment. It was gone at last.
In addition to peace of mind I felt that I had been able to confess those wrongs to our children in various ways and had achieved something of an honest admission of my failings as a parent. Then the chinks in my armor of forgiveness began to appear.
While I was in Oklahoma for Thanksgiving with my youngest (step)son and his family he told me that his brother felt I wasn’t fair to his grandfather in the book. He then suggested that I talk to his brother and clear the air by way of explaining why I’d written what I did. So, after considerable thought, just before Christmas I did exactly what had been suggested. The response I received was painful. It was painful for two reasons. He told me that as far as he was concerned his father had ceased to exist and to please not darken his doorway again. The second reason for pain was that his mother’s unforgiving streak had apparently taken root in our son at last.
Not to be outdone, my daughter delivered the same basic message a few days ago with the added touch of un-friending both me and her “father” on Facebook. It hurt … a lot.
Giving up “claim to requital on account of” I can do, because I must for my own peace of mind and because they are after all, ‘my” children. But, I find a sense of resentment toward their mother; first, since I’m reasonably certain she has a hand in the matter, indirectly at least, and toward what I can only chock up to genetic pre-disposition to harbor perceived affronts.
Abba is the only place I know to turn to for solace and direction. Since He’s been dealing with unforgiving and un-loving “children” forever maybe I’ll get the advice I seek from Him. The key here is for me to be receptive to His solution, which will more than likely be to “give up my resentment” without forgetting. I’m working on it … I’m working on it, Okay?

2 thoughts on “Forgiving can be painfully difficult.

  1. Im so sad to read this..its unfortunate that they will miss out on “you” son loves this quote
    “the people that matter dont mind and the people that mind dont matter”..i hope your children can put aside their feelings and embrace is too short to miss out on anything! Love..suzy

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