#40 Days

The daily posts during Lent of 2015 – a journey to freedom through forgiveness.

February 18
New goal for the next 40 days. Join me, if you will.
A journey to freedom through forgiveness: of those who hurt us; of those who wronged us; of ourselves.

February 19 
Today I forgive the people who bought my used car with a bad check. I only got 1/2 the money you were supposed to pay. You seemed to think this was funny. I hope others have been more kind to you. I hope you have learned to value people, including yourselves, better.
February 20
Today I forgive the person who broke my spirit when they told me I was “too stupid” to go back to school and that my desire to do it would be a waste of money.

February 21
Today I will forgive myself for the times I lost patience with my son; when my voice unfairly raised past firm to angry and hurtful.

February 23
Today I forgive the teacher who gave all my graded work directly to my father (who worked at the school) rather than return it to me, like all the other students. Your first words to me were “no special treatment” but I never asked for it. You were the one who made me different. That’s when I learned mistrust and became disheartened by my educational experience.
February 24
Today I forgive my grandfather for calling me a manipulative, lying brat and telling me I was “just as bad as the rest of them.” For 21 years you hung the moon in my eyes. With those words, in an instant, my whole universe crashed in around me. In those last years, we took care of each other-I cooked and cleaned for you and you loved me when I felt unlovable. I know it was the illness talking, not you. But it wasn’t supposed to end that way. After all we’d been for each other, that wasn’t supposed to be the last thing you ever said to me. I know your mind told you I was the enemy, but I hope your heart still understood the love.
February 25
Today I will forgive Mother Nature for her wrath this winter, causing West Seneca schools to take back days in our Spring break, even though this now means we will (again) miss the Buffalo Bisons’ opening day at home. I will forgive, but I won’t forget….don’t mess with my baseball, mama!
February 26
Today I forgive myself for the times I leave my son to go to meetings, classes or a show with friends. Each time I am filled with guilt, tho’ I know he is taken care of. Each time I watch the clock wanting to get home as quickly as possible, tho’ I know he is loved where he is. The businesses, boards and committees I serve on appreciate my service and rely on me. The classes I go to, whether I’m teaching or learning, are helping me to grow and be a better person all around. The times I am with friends are important to ensure I do not completely lose my sense of self to my duties as a mother. It is good for us to be apart sometimes. He doesn’t always need a mother around. I don’t always need to be a mother. I will forgive me. I will go without guilt. I will enjoy my time away as it is meant to be. I will repeat this many times in hopes that I will believe it and finally be successful in my attempts to be my own person. (be prepared to see this again)
February 27
Today I forgive a former boss who felt belittling me was an acceptable practice. I hope you have learned a more effective mentoring style that doesn’t include throwing workers to the wolves and knowingly letting them fail. I could have learned so much from you if you were willing to share. I am worth more than you allowed me to be. I am thankful for supportive coworkers who kept me sane at that time. I AM capable…of just about anything.
February 28
Today I will do my best to forgive the person who wrote horrible, hurtful words about me and sent them to a person with influence over me. I do not know what kind of hate you must hold to have written such vile lies about another person. I do not know who you are or what I could have done to you (or anyone) to illicit such a disgusting response. There could be no other purpose for this note except to cause damage in my life. Congratulations, it worked. When your words were shown to me, they turned my stomach, caught my breath, and stabbed through my heart. You did hurt me – at that moment and for many, many moments after that as I contemplated and remembered and relived reading your words. But, you did not defeat me. Lies will never win. I am sad and angry that such words were ever written. But they are only words, so I move on. Today I will strive to truly put this nauseating moment of my past in the past. I hope no one ever shows you the kind of hate you showed to me. I hope you have found love and light in your life since then. I hope you choose your words more carefully now.
March 2
Today I worked to forgive myself for the times I’ve judged others. Whether it’s jumping to conclusions with people I know when I don’t have the whole story, or making assumptions with people I don’t know when I have none of the story (and it’s not mine to know, anyway). Judging someone says more about me than them. It is my flaw, my insecurity, my error. I have judged others positively and negatively…neither way is good. Who am I to judge? On what vast knowledge could I possibly base any judgment? None. I only know a fraction of what any other person has thought, felt, or experienced in their life – there is insufficient data for meaningful answer. I try not to judge others. When I hear myself or others heading in that direction, I try to change my thinking, reminding myself that just because I don’t understand or don’t agree, that doesn’t make it wrong. I fail at this, over and over. But today I will forgive my failures and try harder, over and over.
March 3
Today I forgive myself for telling my mother I hate her. I don’t remember doing it, but I was 13 once, so I’m sure I did. I hope she knew enough to understand those are just defensive words from a teenager in angst. I was not an easy teen, filled with hurt and anger. Lashing out was often directed at my family. My mother now lives close and I am grateful for her help. Apparently she has forgiven the horrible things I may have said to her back then, so it’s time I forgive me, too.

March 4
Today I forgive those who speak harshly of me when I am not around. I forgive the harsh words, I forgive the unkind practice. I have always worried a lot about what others said about me behind my back. It has kept me up many nights. I would much rather be told directly that you don’t like me or my decisions, than to have you speak about it in my absence. Your critique may help me grow – become a better person. If I don’t know my failings, how can I try to overcome them – to be stronger, better, kinder. If you find my ways to be unfair, ill-informed, or poorly planned: talk to me. If you are speaking merely to disparage my name/image, keep silent. I don’t lose as much sleep these days worrying about such things. I have far greater things to take up my time. That doesn’t mean I don’t care, or that it doesn’t hurt. But, today I forgive.

March 5
Today I forgive those who abused my trust. I used to trust easily. I believed people were basically good. I believed everyone wanted to help each other succeed. I believed people spoke honestly, held confidences, and loved genuinely. In one small span of time my beliefs were shattered in a big way. To be betrayed by family, friends and peers – people you believed held your best interests as closely as you did – changes a person. I still don’t think I like the way it changed me. Perhaps being less trusting now means I am more protected. But inside, it just makes me sad – makes me feel not like me. Sometimes a broken faith is readily forgiven, we move on. Some are more difficult. For many years I have struggled to forgive and move on. Today I will make a conscious effort to begin the journey to forgiveness of the betrayal. Not because I believe the offenders all deserve (or care about) my forgiveness, but because I deserve it.
March 6
Today I will forgive my moments or days when my “give-a-damn” is busted. We all struggle now and then. As long as I continue to warn someone of an oncoming bus, I think the occasional “you’ll have to solve your own problem today” is permitted. Right? Please? Warning – today may be one of those days. Tread lightly, friends. I do love you, even if it doesn’t always seem like it today.
March 7
Today I will forgive the hard that creeps into my son. The hard that makes the smallest challenge turn into the largest mountain. The hard that makes a flub feel like a failure. The hard that creates doubt and displeasure in his heart. The hard that pushes me away, that curls him into sadness, and that comes around far too often for my liking. I know, one day, he will be stronger having fought you all this time. But, I don’t like you. I don’t like that he has to fight so much already. My son is stronger than the hard, even if he doesn’t feel it yet. I will trust that, and trust him.
March 9
Tonight (inspired by a meeting) I will forgive the interim Pastor who filled in at the church of my youth during a transition and taught me little more than a distaste for him and his methods. I did not meet you under good circumstances. The Pastor I had grown with, the man I loved and trusted more than anyone had just been torn away from me, as a young teenager just beginning my Catechism and a deeper understanding of my faith. Pastor Scheel was my whole faith identity – he was my gateway to God. He was the source of my understanding, my faith and my love. He left and you stepped in. You had a very different way of teaching, of preaching, of being. He comforted me; you frightened me. He guided me; you controlled me. It was not what I wanted, nor what I understood my faith to be. Nothing felt welcoming or full of grace at that time. I felt no forgiveness, no reconciliation, no peace. I’m not sure you could have ever been seen through an unbiased lens – not by me anyway. In my heart, you had big shoes to fill. Shoes I didn’t want on someone else’s feet. As if teenage years weren’t hard enough, the time when I was supposed to find solid ground in my faith – deeper understanding through the Catechism, historical foundations for uprising and questions – I found only doubt. Maybe you didn’t want to be in our little town anymore than I wanted you to replace my Pastor. Maybe you remained distant because when the time was up you can say farewell to ‘acquaintances,’ but it’s hard to say good-bye to ‘friends.’ Maybe you were tired of teaching the Catechism, maybe moody teenagers really set you off. Maybe we weren’t your cup of tea, either. For more than 30 years your name has remained in a dark place in my mind, conjuring a large knot in my gut whenever I recall the time our paths crossed. Tonight I will forgive the distant, angry man in my memory. I will forgive the hurt and anger and doubt that came from our encounter. Wishing peace to all who struggled through forced relationships.
March 10
Today I forgive myself for letting the darkness into my soul. I forgive the times I allow my light to be overcome by the clouds, when I can’t see the good anymore. I forgive my heart for feeling only hurt, my mind for thinking only despair, and my soul for absorbing only sad.
March 11
Today is a special day for an important person from my past. So, today, I will forgive the dismissal and hurt. Today I will forgive the unpleasantness spurred by too much alcohol. Today I will forgive the way we did not talk to each other when it was important. It has been too many years of love and hate battling through the same memories. I honestly wish you a blessed day today. I hope your new life has brought you all the joy you’ve wanted. I will forgive and move on.
March 12
Today I forgive the people who put words in my mouth – words I never said and never meant. I forgive those who quote me by misrepresenting my statements. I forgive those who listen to only 1/3 of what I say, believe 1/3 of what they want, and fill in the rest with anything that will bridge the gap. I forgive the people who believe they speak for me. To all of you who want to know my thoughts, feelings, opinions: I can speak for myself and I welcome your direct conversation. To those who can’t seem to hear the actual words that come out of my mouth, but somehow always manage to twist the words into more than they were ever meant to be: please, listen carefully, and if you are unsure of what I meant – ask me, right then and there. I will be happy to choose new words to be better understood. But, when I do rephrase it, don’t continue to insist I must have meant it a different way. Thank you.
March 13
Today my forgiveness is very private. It is about a person and an event that need only be known to us. It was a most unpleasant moment in my life, forced upon me with no warning and unrelenting to protest. So it is there. A part of me. A part I do not like, yet cannot escape. So, tonight I dig deep to forgive in hopes that, while it will always be a part of me, it will no longer have power in my life.
March 14
Today I forgive the people from whom I bought my house for holding up progress, twisting words, refusing to sign documents and making the process even more frustrating than it needed to be. It took from February to June to iron out all the details. You verbally agreed to stipulations, then conveniently forgot to sign off on them. You pushed back with unreasonable requests, and failed to follow through on promises. I understand this was an estate and there were several siblings trying to coordinate across states. I don’t understand why that made deception okay to some of you. Over the years, I have discovered additional things about the home that you hid from me, or lied about. It makes me sad that you felt it was okay to deceive someone for the sake of gain. I hope you are using kinder words to talk about each other now. I hope, when you remember this home, it’s with happy memories of your father & mother, not memories of deceiving me.
March 16
Today I will forgive my greed. I will forgive myself for those days when I covet the newest phone, the better car, the fancier house. I will forgive the times when I lose focus on the many blessings I’ve received. I will forgive the moments that I let want speak over need. I will forgive, because I vow to remember the difference. I promise to be more thankful. I promise to consider motivation before taking action.
March 17
Tonight I forgive my inability to “drop the rope.” A friend reminded me once that a tug-of-war only works when both sides pull on the rope. So, even in an emotional tug-of-war, if we really want the war to end all we need to do is drop the rope. If I could just let go, there is no pulling the other party back into the war. The push and pull would be over. When we’re in a battle that, at best, will have one who will lose a little less – walking away is an acceptable response. In some battles, I have not let go. I hold tight, feeling like it’s my only way to win. Tonight I will forgive the times I held tight to that rope and I will work to loosen my grip, one finger at a time until my hand is open, empty of the rope and ready to receive peace.
March 18
Today I forgive the horrible disease that took my friend from me many years ago. You were – indescribable! The first time we met, within minutes I was waltzing with you and then hoisted onto your shoulder in a swan pose while you shouted “just go with it!” We shared a love of music and dance and could jam for hours and laugh. You sang at my wedding – your beautiful voice staying true to the song, even when the organ didn’t. The gift I bought to thank you for that day was engraved with the comedy/tragedy masks. I could think of no more fitting representation of you. You were always fully one (comedy) or the other (tragedy). You experienced life with every fiber of your being and encouraged the same in your friends. In the haste to make a perfect wedding day, I was hurried out of my house and your gift was left behind. I thought of sending someone to retrieve it between the wedding and reception, but kept silent instead. I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone and I knew you’d understand when I gave it to you after I returned from my honeymoon. I never expected to return to the news that you had died while I was away. You left without saying goodbye. Your illness took you from me and I wasn’t here to fight it with you. I think you would have liked the gift. I’m sorry you never saw it, but I keep it close to me even today. I still hear your words echo in my head sometimes – “just go with it.” Good advice. You were by my side to hold my hand when I needed it, or to kick my ass when I needed it – and happy to do either. I could use that loving honesty around me now. A psychic once told me there was a flamboyant, boisterous spirit around me all the time. I like to think that’s you. I miss you, Kevin Kick. Your beautiful voice, loving spirit and zest for life will always bring me joy.
March 19
Today I forgive my father for what felt like years of dismissal and disapproval. We see life very differently, which made any relationship between us very difficult and strained. When you responded to a grade of 98 with “why isn’t it 100?” you saw it as motivation. I felt it as failure. As a young teenager I struggled to balance what I was driven to do (dance) and what I thought you would want me to do (sports). You didn’t understand the world that inspired me and didn’t know how to support it. I didn’t understand that then. Although I know in my head you would have done anything for your family, what I remember most was that you were often somewhere else – school, games, meetings. I learned to keep baseball stats in order to see you more and in hopes of gaining praise or approval from “Coach.” At some point in high school, I stopped trying; stopped caring. I remember watching so many classmates, female athletes, file into your office for support or advice, relying on you. I was angry (and jealous) that I never got that part of you. That wasn’t the relationship we had. How could they cry on your shoulder – even about personal things – when I was raised on ‘stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!”? It didn’t make sense to me. We went our separate ways, and our relationship has changed over the years. I can look back with a different view now and better understanding. Family endures all things.
March 20
Tonight I will forgive the painters who took too much time and too little care while painting my house. As a newly single mom, I felt I did not have time to paint my house correctly. There wasn’t much-a little trim, a dormer on the back of my little brick cape. But I wanted help to have it done without worrying how to be on the ladder and still keep on eye on my preschooler. So I called on a painter, got an estimate, picked colors and waited. And waited. And waited. Ten months after the promised start date (and after another brutal winter beat against my clapboards) you finally showed up. It took three weeks to do this small job. I don’t think it would have taken ME that long to do it around a full-time job and caring for my son. You did not scrape the dormer well and did not use primer. You broke a window and tried to hide it. You spilled paint on my brick and on my porch and denied it. You were told there was to be no smoking on the property and yet my yard was littered with butts each night when I returned home. You had no respect for me or my property. I spoke to the workers, the supervisors and managers several times, never quite satisfied that my concerns were taken seriously. It’s time to paint again. This time I will do it myself and give the care my modest home deserves. It may not be a mansion, but it’s mine and it’s important to our family. I hope you have improved your skills in painting and customer service and that you have learned respect. I will even forgive you for having the gall to call me again this week to ask about repainting my house. Really?? Was my two page letter (including pictures) not enough for you to remove my name from your follow-up list?? Please don’t call again…..ever. Thank you.
March 21
Today I forgive myself for believing I needed to be anything other than myself. I will forgive the years of hiding behind masks created by the doubt and insecurity of comparison to others. I will forgive the effort put into the wrong things; the time wasted trying to fit someone else’s mold. How do you live an authentic life when you don’t even know what is ‘authentic’ to you? One moment at a time, you learn where your true boundaries lie. I will continue to find my boundaries, to understand my truths and to live them out. For me. For no one else.

March 23
Tonight I forgive the person who took advantage of my generosity. You were struggling, and I could help. So I did. First some paperwork. Maybe a ride here or there. Then it was $5 for coffee; $10 for lunch; $20 for gas; then more significant money for more serious needs. It always came with the promise of repayment – the money, the favors, whatever it may be. The repayment never came. I continued to give, because you said you were in need. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do – to help those in need? If I said ‘no’ what would that mean? Could you not pay your bills? Who else would it affect? I didn’t know those answers, only you did. I trusted that you understood friendship the same as I did. My understanding of friendship does not include exploitation, however. You continued to take advantage of my desire to help, without hesitation or remorse. The debt is still unpaid – though, it was never the loss of money that bothered me. It was the loss of friendship – it was being used that dug deep into me, refusing to let go. Tonight, I finally let it all go – with one last wish: whether you see the error of your ways with me or not, I hope you have changed your behavior and treat others with more respect. I hope you understand that others will help those who truly need it and manipulation does not need to be a part of that.

March 24
Today I forgive myself for the times I see my son’s world through eyes jaded by 40 more years. I forgive the times when I forget that brownies cut into triangles and parallelograms taste the same as brownies cut into squares. I forgive the times I think of the mess before the fun of jumping in puddles. I forgive the sighs over mismatched clothes or frivolous toys. I will forgive me because HE forgives me. When I forget the fun of being 9 and get caught up in the stress of being forty-something, he forgives me. When I give too much weight to things that don’t matter – like the way he chose to cut the brownies – he forgives me. There is no greater gift on this earth than to be forgiven by your child when you’ve done wrong by them. That is a blessing I will always cherish.

March 25
Today I will forgive myself for sometimes saying “no.” No is an acceptable answer. No is sometimes the healthy answer or the necessary answer. I am responsible for my own well-being and saying no is part of maintaining that. It can be difficult to turn down a friend who asks for support, a co-worker who asks for assistance, or a family member who asks company. But our own needs are important, too. Today I will forgive – I will give myself permission to use the word no when it’s needed and to NOT trade it for guilt.

March 2
Today I forgive my son for……everything. I forgive every harsh word he may ever speak to me. I forgive him for every misguided action, for any poor choices, for each disappointing decision. I will always forgive him. Again and again. It will not be an easy road as he becomes his own person. I will support him the best way I can, and part of that is forgiveness for the unforgivable. Even when I don’t like his choices I will forgive. That is the love of a mom.

March 2
Today I forgive the midwife who did not listen to the nurse when she asked “is that meconium?” after my water broke while in labor for my son. She could not know that within two hours both he and I would spike dangerously high fevers. She could not know that we would be rushed in for an emergency C-section. She could never imagine that my son would be pulled from me with no breath. There was no way for her to know that his lungs would collapse – tiny tattered shreds unable to hold air. There was no hint that he would require three chest tubes and days of prayer to help his lungs heal. How could she know that his time without oxygen would lead to hyper-sensitivity to light, sound and touch. She couldn’t know that he would need isolation, quiet and dark, that I would not be able to hold my first & only child for 5 days. There was no way for her to see the days and days of brain scans and chest x-rays that would follow. It was one question by a young nurse. She couldn’t know.


March 28
Tonight I forgive this nasty bug that has crept into my body, interrupting a movie date with my best guy, for it showed him that he can watch the movie alone. I forgive the hours of misery that meant I missed my Webelo taking part in an Eagle Scout ceremony, for it allowed his grandfather to witness something he otherwise would have missed.I forgive the aches and discomfort for it lets me know I am alive and reminds of my ability to heal.


March 31
I’m a little behind because I was feeling under the weather, so here is part I of II:

Tonight I forgive my memory for letting the hurt or anger of past interactions cloud the possibilities for future collaborations. Even when I may forgive (or think I forgive) the misstep that caused hurt feelings between myself and someone else, I find it hard to ‘forget’ and give them the clean slate they may deserve. Simple conversations are blocked by my pre-conceived notions of what will or will not happen. Tonight I will forgive my memory for building roadblocks to positive relationships. I will start today to remove those blocks and be more open to the possibility of change and welcome healthier relationships.


Part II of II:
Tonight I will finally forgive the adoption agency worker who felt she had the knowledge and authority to tell me that I was “not god enough.” After years of feeling empty without a child in my life I made a decision. After many months of paperwork and meetings I jumped through hoops for this agency. After many checks written for various stages of approval and assessment I was summarily dismissed as “not good enough” to be a mom. It was not my home that was inadequate; it was not my car or my job. I was simply told I was “not good enough.” That felt like the most hurtful, soul-crushing statement that could have been said to me at that time. I have carried that label wrapped around every decision I make as a biological mother now. I have fought that label, rebelled against that label, questioned that label, but always been fully aware of that label. Tonight I will take the first steps toward finally letting go of that label – one given to me by someone who knew nothing about me and had no right to be so dismissive. A part of me may always mourn the adoptive child I was not allowed to welcome into my heart. But, eventually, my prayers were answered and I received the most blessed gift of my son – for which I will forever be overwhelmingly grateful.


April 1
Today I will work toward forgiving my past unfortunate choices. I know each one had a hand in making who I am today, but I hold them much to close and allow them to be the framework by which I continue to build my life. I will work to allow each one to be what it was – a blip, a mistake, a wrong turn, a missed opportunity – but also to allow them to be my past. I will work to forgive the choice and leave it behind me as nothing more than an opportunity for learning. I am more than the sum of my parts


April 2
Tonight I forgive my sporadic desire to draw others into my hurt, entangling them into a fractured relationship which is not theirs to navigate. When we feel put upon, taken advantage of, unjustly treated – it’s somehow comforting to feel the warmth of others shielding you against the cold from without. When we simply find others who have suffered similar pains, the solace can help in the healing. However, when we take action to lure others to ‘our side’ of the pain, when we push our hurts onto them in hopes of somehow tainting their relationships, thereby gaining companionship for ourselves, there is no true good that can come. I took such actions today. In anger and frustration I began a message to a third (disinterested) party about an exchange. I wanted support. I wanted someone else to feel my pain and anger. But……I did not send the message. I deleted it. It was not her hurt to feel. And a wonderful thing happened – the anger and hurt left, even faster than if I had sent that message and continued the conversation allowing it to build strength. I will remember this and do my best to keep my hurts between the right people, and to forgive myself for the times I forget to delete the message.

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