I remember listening to an audiobook by Brene Brown and hearing her say “to forgive requires
I’ve been turning that over and over again in my mind since I heard it.
In obvious (and glorious) grand-Christianity-terms, yes, forgiveness requires a death. But what about in everyday life, in those small, ugly moments when we recoil against that whisper in our hearts that says, forgive…forgive.
Yesterday, my son really hurt me.
We were walking out of an appointment and I stumbled, my shoe snubbing against the smooth, slippery floor. I felt myself pitch forward, my 34 week pregnant body so unstable these days. My muscles clenched up causing horrific, shooting pain through my already aching pelvis. I instinctively grabbed my son’s arm and tried to steady myself with his body, his shoulder nearly level with my own these days.
But instead of being the steading shoulder I needed in that moment, my son wrenched his arm out of my grip and glared at me, “What are you doing?!” he snapped.
He started walking faster, even as my pace slowed down as the pain continued to pulse through my legs.
We made a scene, I know we did. I begged him to come walk
beside me, to help me, but he wouldn’t. He kept walking faster.
He told me that I scared him and I have no doubt that I did.
But I was furious and hurt to my very core as I hobbled after him to the car. My voice grew hard and thick and the tears started falling as I told him that he was rude and mean and that I needed him in that moment.
Angry, ugly thoughts roared through my mind as I dropped him off at school, culminating with this: If he really loved me, he wouldn’t have walked away. If he was a kind, loving child, he wouldn’t have acted the way he did.
His dad talked to him later that night and my son apologized. I accepted his apology and explained again, more calmly than in the car, what I needed from him that morning.
But I was still hurt, dealing with those ugly thoughts in my heart. I was hearing that whisper, forgive, forgive…but I didn’t want to.
Because that death part of forgiveness felt even more painful than the initial wound.
Because this is what needed to die: The truth that my son is not always kind and loving to me like I want him to be, that these qualities don’t come naturally to him all the
To forgive, I have to let the “Ideal Son” die so that I can accept the “Real Son” I have, one that needs my help and guidance to become a loving man.
And Dear God does that hurt.
It hurts because I was wounded and want justice for my pain. I don’t want to serve or give or teach when I am in pain, when I have been hurt. I want to be loved and taken care of in my moments of weakness, and not have to dig down for more strength to accept and love and forgive and…well, die to myself.
It requires a sort of death. A death to the way we want our relationships to look, the way we want life to go. Death to the ideal, and an embrace of the reality.
The reality here in my own life is this: My son has a lot of love to give, but he’s young and has a lot of maturing to do.
He can, and will, become more loving as he gets older, with teaching and patience.
But in order to teach him with patience, I have to keep my heart soft. I have to forgive.
It requires a sort of death in order for new life to push through that pain and produce something new, something that’s growing and new.