Past Forgiveness

4 Apr
My dad with my boys March 9 , 1997

My dad with my boys March 9 , 1997

It’s not even 9 AM in my part of the world and already this is been an extraordinary day. I think the best way to start this particular post is with a little background information. Easter Sunday was the 16th anniversary of my father’s passing from this world to the next. Some people think I have a strange view of death because I can be joyful about my father’s passing. The reason I can be joyful is that I truly believe with every part of my being that this life is just a small part of something much bigger and much, much better. The other reason that I can be joyful about my father’s passing is because he lived a difficult life, partially because of circumstances beyond his control and partially because of choices he made and the way he thought about life.

Just recently I began rereading the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. One of the agreements in the book is” Don’t Take Anything Personally”. In a nutshell, the agreement says that whenever you take anything personally you accept the poison of someone else’s perspective which is really selfishness because you make the other person’s reaction about you.

Today as I was thinking about my 50th birthday in a couple of weeks and the party we are planning to celebrate, I started thinking about the people who my husband called who said they can’t come. Some of them are dear friends and relatives; people I cannot imagine not having at the celebration. I began to feel very unsettled and unhappy. I thought about saying the heck with it and just chucking the whole idea of the party out the window. I was irritated and aggravated. Then I remembered something.

In 1997, my dad was in hospice for his 54th birthday.  I had given birth to my second child on March 4th. At the time, I was also coaching a club volleyball team that had a tournament on March 8th. Four days after giving birth, I spent over eight hours on my feet coaching volleyball between feedings of a newborn, not by a bottle. By the end of the day, I was exhausted physically mentally and emotionally. I called my dad as we were leaving the tournament to wish him a happy birthday and to tell him we wouldn’t be able to see him until his party the next day. I knew he was disappointed. I knew he was hurt, but I was exhausted and it was late and I had to take care of myself and my baby.  We went to Hospice for his party the next day.  He died on March 31st.

Today, as I thought about my birthday party and how disappointed I am that some of the more important people in my life won’t be at my party, I thought about how disappointed my father probably was when we missed his birthday even though we attended his party the next day. I realized how deeply I regretted not being there. I realized how much guilt I still carried because we didn’t make it there. I realized on the most profound level how shame filled I was for missing his last birthday, for being in denial that it would be his last birthday and for causing him emotional pain that day. It was gut wrenching and I had one heck of a cry as the emotions bubbled up, but something else happened too.

As I worked my way through my regret and guilt, I thought about the “agreement” and how personally I was taking everything in regard to my father. I thought about my belief about where he is and the fact that any hurt my actions may have caused him are no longer important to him. For 16 years, I’ve carried a heavy burden that I don’t need to carry anymore. So today, I lay aside my regret, my guilt and my shame for a decision I made as an exhausted mom with a newborn 16 years ago. I also lay aside any irritation, frustration and disappointment regarding anyone who can’t attend my party.

After some meditation and prayer, I find myself in awe of divine unfolding that allows me to release my guilt and regret so that I can do the same for others. It’s a healing that I didn’t even know I needed but one for which I am so very grateful. I feel as though a part of me has been broken open, as if a dark place is now filled with light. It is a peaceful and joyful feeling and I hope that if any of you have burdens like this that you will find the grace that I found this morning so that you too can heal and move on in your life in peace, joy and love. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

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3 Responses to “Past Forgiveness”

  1. Scott W. Nickell April 4, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    Cousin, you are wise, and loving, and caring. We need to conect soon! Love you, Scott

  2. Lori P. April 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    WOW — powerful post, Karen. Thx so much for sharing it, and I’m so thankful that one more place in your soul has been filled w/God’s glorious light. {hugs}

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