I asked for it, and here is one of the reader suggested writing prompts- freedom. After seeing the prompts, I thought, "This prompt will be way too challenging for me." And surprisingly, this one is singing to me this morning! While the other prompt is absolutely perfect for this blog, this one actually will end up being a lesson for all of us, especially those with children.
About a year ago, a neighbor, who we actually treated like family, messed up- big time. Without getting involved with details, end of story- alcohol and a gun. While we were just bystanders to the self destruction, our internal sense of safety was compromised, and at the core, that was the dividing wedge. One of our children was completely aware of the situation, and it has had serious, negative effects for that child. Sadly, it was a disease, alcoholism, that created that situation. The person is not the disease. The person, after much reflection- like, a year, came and asked for forgiveness.
I found forgiveness a few months ago, during the Lenten season, when I was thinking about all the mistakes I have made in my life. Thinking about asking for forgiveness, and actually coming with a contrite heart, are incredibly different. Having been in a confession, and working tremendously hard to come up with things to ask for forgiveness, I realize, that having to "work" for it, means that I am grabbing at straws, and probably not ready to confess that sin. That wrong doing. That thing that keeps me further from my Heavenly Father, and further from loving myself. From being able to love others. I felt that it was important for me to decide in my heart that I would forgive this person from hurting our family. This person has an illness, and while I am not perfect, I can not throw the first stone. So, forgiveness came in the form of a prayer for healing for that person.
The person came to me this morning to apologize. After a year of the cold shoulder from me, this person, humbled by reflection, comes, and asks for forgiveness. I swear, I saw a broken person come to me, and then, I saw the freedom that comes from reconciliation. Freedom from shame, sorrow, hurt, anger, addiction. With true acceptance of wrong doing, and a pure heart asking for forgiveness, I had nothing left but to grant forgiveness.
I hope that G-d puts a gate keeper at my lips while I try to share this story with my children. Mostly, I need to share something that can not be explained. That is hard. I need my children to see how to properly apologize. They will need this skill, for life. I don't know how to do that. I witnessed it, today. I need to practice it. Granting forgiveness is the easy part. To be able to give someone freedom to accept their faults, is the most amazing gift of grace.
PS The easier of the two prompts that readers suggested, was on planning for summer with children. I sooooo got that. I might do that each week of summer!