forgiveness

my husband’s greatest gift

One of the greatest gifts my husband will give our children is forgiveness without shame.

I grew up believing I had to apologize in a certain way before I could be forgiven. To prove my sincerity, I had to hang my head low, use a specific vocal intonation, and have tears in my eyes. Forgiveness was obtained through earnest repentance, and only maintained if I demonstrated over time that I wouldn’t do the same bad thing again.

Sometimes I would refuse to forgive others so I could feel powerful. I would give off an attitude of resentment to feel superior. Even after offering forgiveness, I would convey disappointment or passive aggressively remind them about it later. I wanted to make sure they still felt guilty. I wanted them to know my forgiveness didn’t come lightly.

I grew up believing people had to work for forgiveness. Or at least put on a convincing performance.

When I met Noah, he offered another way. He showed me forgiveness is not the reward someone earns when they act sorry enough. Forgiveness is choosing to not hold something against someone, whether it be an offense, mistake, or perceived flaw. Forgiveness depends on the one who gives it and not on the one who receives it.

I don’t recall a single situation in which he has not immediately forgiven me.

In fact, for the first year of our marriage, I never once apologized to Noah. Whenever he apologized to me, I felt emotionally reconnected, and didn’t see the need to humble myself and make amends for anything in return. In my victim mentality, I blamed him for every conflict and didn’t know how to take responsibility.

Noah never condemns me. Once he forgives, it’s not that he forgets, but he moves forward. He doesn’t hold it over my head. He doesn’t bring it up at a future time to make me feel bad. Whenever I apologize or confess anything to him, it always directly results in forgiveness and restoration.

Forgiveness is a tool to stay in relationship.

We want to teach our kids that forgiveness restores the previous standard and the past won’t be used against them. They are safe to mess up not because their actions don’t have consequences, but because we don’t live in fear of how they will behave. They are freely forgiven for the sake of love, and we hope they, too, will learn to forgive without prerequisite.

My parents still withhold forgiveness for things I’ve done years ago. It hurts less than it did before, but the pain doesn’t go away. I never want my children to experience this.

Noah and I believe earthly fathers play a crucial role in reflecting the father heart of God. The heart that stays engaged in relationship no matter what, that wants his kids free from guilt and shame, that is always ready to love and reconcile. The heart I never truly knew until Noah mirrored it for me, the heart that has changed my life, the heart my husband now shares with our own children.

Happy Father’s Day to the best father I know <3

 

“the soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears”

There is a huge mess of terms and concepts and questions scattered at my feet. Love. Forgiveness. Submission. Maturity. Freedom. Identity. God as my father. My father. My mother. My mother. My mother. My mother.

I missed her so much tonight.

Ever since she stopped talking to me, she has felt dead to me. But it should not surprise me so much, since, in all the years I have known her, she has never seemed really alive.

I want my mom to live.

I think the reason I cannot really forgive my mom is not because of any anger or bitterness on my part, but because I do not want to acknowledge that how she treated me was wrong. I have spent so many years defending her, affirming how good of a mother she was, how she did as best as she knew how.

But it is not my job to defend her.

My mom has been through a lot, more than I know. I do not think she has really processed it, because she has not experienced redemption, healing, freedom. There has been abandonment, racism, abuse. There has been misunderstanding, hurt, pain. She did not mean to, it was never her intention, but she passed all those things down to me. Her identity is found in being a successful mother, and in her eyes (and up until recently, mine as well) I have failed her, and so she has failed, and lost her reason to live.

There are layers and layers of lies.

My mom is a very private person. But the ways she has bound her daughters in privacy and secrets creates in me fear, builds walls, hardens my heart. I have learned that there is power in sharing something to cast out fear of it, for then fear no longer has power over me. For so long I have tried to honor her wishes for secrecy and silence, but this is my story, too.

Every time I call her, I pray, “Maybe this time she will pick up.” But she never does.

My mother is beautiful. She is so sensitive and thoughtful of others. She is empathetic and compassionate. She is professional, polite, and punctual. She likes alliteration. She has a lovely singing voice. She likes Doritos and big mugs of Twinings Earl Grey tea with honey. She has a lot of ghetto fab clothes but only because she likes rhinestones and bright colors and statement pieces. She gets cold easily. She is tiny and fragile.

She is still so young, her life nowhere near over. There is still so much hope that she could have.

It is so difficult to try to explain what I am learning while also honoring my mother. I wish I knew how, but for too long I have tried to separate the past from the now.  “Our lives are twisted vines, inextricably spun and intertwined.” I am not trying to tear her down — Please, God, let this be communicated well! — I am trying to love her.

I do not write this with a self-righteous attitude, thinking I deserve an apology. Rather, I am trying to say: I need to recognize that the way I grew up was not good. That some things should never have happened. I have always overlooked it: “There are so many others who have it so much worse.” I have justified it: “Look at how it has made me a better person. Good came out of it, so it must now be good, too.” But I do not have to be thankful for the bad.

I need to recognize what was big to see need for what is bigger.

Above all,

keep loving one another earnestly,

since love covers a multitude of sins.

(1 Peter 4:8)