I've been thinking about forgiveness lately. A lot.
I read a parable a few months ago. I want to link to where I read it, but I can't remember the site, or the book, or whatever medium it was. I'm going to sum up and post it for you anyway, because it's relevant.
Two monks are walking together on a road. They meet a woman who is going the same way, and the three begin to walk together. The woman is really not a nice person. She's loud, boastful, and rude. She is mean to the monks. Still they walk on together. Eventually they come to a stream. The woman insists she is NOT crossing this river by herself. She demands that the monks carry her, and they do. One picks her up, the other picks up her stuff (which is a lot...she has a lot of stuff)...together they get her across the river. On the other side, they part ways with her...she stands shouting and degrading them as they leave.
After walking on for another hour, one monk turns to the other and says "I cannot believe you carried that woman across the river. She was so awful. She was so rude to you...and you did it anyway. She was the most horrible person I've ever met!" His companion turns to him and says "Brother, I put her down an hour ago. Why haven't you?"
I've retold this story many times over the past months, and part of that retelling is me trying to work out my own stuff. See, I strive to be a better person. I really try to do good things for others and for this world. The fact is, though...one thing I have never been able to change is the fact that I hold a grudge. I have the ability to stay mad at someone for so long it is ridiculous.
Honestly, most of the time I yell a little, recounting to Hubby what injustices have been done to me in a particular situation...then I'm over it. Maybe I'll tell a few other people and turn it into a good story.
I have one particular grudge, though, that I cannot let go of.
A few years ago I had a friend I was extremely close to. Without giving details, I will suffice it to say that our friendship didn't just fall apart, it exploded in an ugly way. We were drifting apart, it hurt, and then it turned ugly. The fault belongs to both of us; I have to say I did and said some things that really make me cringe now. I didn't handle it well.
But here's the thing: I can't let it go. I know I had a hand in the way things ended. I know that I could have handled the whole situation better. But all I can dwell on is how hurt I was...how I needed my friend and she chose that time to pull away and focus on other things...other friends...her own life (which was, truth be told, in turmoil). I was angry at her for not being there for me, angry at her for not letting me be there for her, and angry that our friendship, which I treasured, now seemed to mean nothing to her. I'm still angry. I'm still hurt. I want to let it go.
I know that letting this go means I need to forgive her for not being the friend I wanted, the friend I thought I had. I also know that letting go means I have to forgive myself for the same things...for not being the friend I aspire to be...for not being the person I aspire to be.
February is here...an online friend I have would refer to this as the "month of suck"...and I'm adopting that moniker from here on out. I hate february. I do. Hubby and I try to fill the month with positive things; things like family and friends and memories that make us smile. But the fact of the matter is that I cry every time I remember tiny man and how his death will always be linked to his birthday in my heart. It makes me angry.
So this year, the second anniversary of his death. The year he would have turned four. I'm going to try to be the person my son thought I was. Kind. Loving. Dedicated.
I've decided that I have to put this friend down. I have to let her go. I've decided that I can't apply the lessons Tiny Man taught me in his short life when I'm letting anger and bitterness hold me back.
This is going to hurt.