Day 24: FORGIVENESS. Today let us open our hearts to forgiveness. Even if it is just a conversation that we have with ourselves. You may not be ready to forgive someone today and that is okay. True forgiveness can never be forced so if you are not feeling it – then you are not feeling it! But we can still plant a seed. Forgiving someone may take years. It is a process. When you forgive another person you are not condoning their actions, you are just releasing yourself from them. When you hold onto anger or resentment for too long, you only end up hurting yourself. It is an easy thing to know in your heart that forgiveness will help you but to actually feel that is a whole other story.
What are your thoughts on forgiveness?
Have your had to forgive someone in your life? How did you do it?
How did you let go of resentment?
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Two years ago I wrote about this topic, specific to forgiveness in child loss. Reading it again, I had to give praise to God for where I am now. In 2012, I was still hurting, healing, processing the forgiveness needed to move on. Now, I can't even pinpoint who or what that post was about. And I know, without a doubt, any forgiveness I gave came from and through Him. What a wonderful feeling when your soul is free from anger and resentment!
Today, I thought I'd focus on forgiveness of self in child loss. Guilt is common with losing a child, no matter the circumstance. As parents, we feel a responsibility to keep our children safe, happy, healthy. When that goes wrong and life turns upside down, we blame ourselves.
For so long, it seemed, that night was on auto play in my mind. I relived the moments leading up to Austin's death over and over and over. Was there anything I could have done to prevent this? Should I have made him get his flu shot that year? What if I'd said no to the bike ride? Should I have postponed his tonsillectomy, even though he'd begged to wait until after Thanksgiving so he could taste all the family's traditional foods. Why didn't I help Tim with CPR instead of sitting there sobbing, screaming, holding Austin's hand?
Would any of it have mattered? Would anything turn back time and return my son?
Months later, when we discovered the true cause of his death and heard the medical examiner assure us there was nothing before-during-or after that would've changed things, it helped. Somewhat. A piece of the guilt we carried went away. But, I just replaced it with other reasons to not forgive myself.
Did Austin know we loved him? Should I have not shopped on Black Friday and spent the day with the boys instead? How many times that last day did I hug him? Was I good mom? Did he realize how much he meant to us? to everyone?
And even now, six years later, I still find myself wishing, wondering. I still have moments of guilt and areas I haven't forgiven.
I look at his little brother, now the same age but stockier, taller. He fills up the queen size bed in his room and my heart cringes, remembering that Austin was still in a twin. He'd grown faster than we'd ever imagined and the bed seemed to shrink beneath him overnight. Though we'd talked about buying a bigger size, we hadn't yet. And I think about whether his nights were uncomfortable, or if his back hurt in the mornings from being cramped in a small bed. He never said.
Or that I never bought him the Iphone he wanted. Perhaps I didn't spoil him enough. Guilt has caused me to do so more with his brother, I know. We never went on that trip to New York. Or to a concert to rock out to AC/DC.
Your mind is continually filled with coulda/shoulda/wouldas when you've lost a child. You wonder if you made the most of the time you had with them? If it - or you - were enough...
There's no cookie cutter response to forgiveness, whether it is to yourself or others. Each situation, every hurt or wrong or regret comes down to time and prayer. Time helps anger and guilt fade. Prayer erases the pain and replaces it with healing.
Thankful I'm not where I once was, hopeful I'll continue to grow, and laying it at His feet to help me.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7