What is one decision that changed your life?
**To respect myself enough to not be controlled by others.
I did that once in high school. It bordered on emotional and verbal abuse… honestly, it jumped the line… I wasn’t allowed to hang out with my female friends. I wasn’t allowed to have male friends. I was isolated, chastised and degraded. I was disrespectfully treated as an object.
When that relationship ended (thank goodness high school doesn’t last forever!) and I rose thru the fog I’d been living in, I remember telling myself I would never date someone who didn’t let me have friends, talk to other people, or live outside his control. My sisters and best friend from high school still can’t say his name without cursing. It’s been almost 20 years.
What I learned from that experience is too much to fit in a blog entry or even a series of entries. I also prefer most of the details to remain anonymous. I don’t need to relive that. My biggest takeaway though is this:
To forgive myself for my choices, I had to forgive too. To move past despising that section of my life, I had to let my hard feelings go.
It seems to be a week of them for my six, almost seven year old little guy. This is a transition year where he needs to be more responsible but is still testing the waters of just about everything. Some weeks are smoother than others.
Yesterday morning, in the midst of the morning school rush, he decided to shred his 4yr old sister’s purple feathered tiara with scissors. He then hid the stem, but couldn’t get all the fluff collected before I walked into the kitchen to find him standing amidst the floating purple fuzz.
All I could do in that moment was tell him I was disappointed in his choice to destroy something that didn’t belong to him. As a move towards reconciliation with his sister, he let her take one of his stuffed animals for her show-and-tell that day. Then out the door to the car we went.
I am firm with my children that I love them always and everywhere – even when they do naughty things. On the flip side, as parents, we don’t let them get away with much if we are aware of it happening. They both have loving, empathetic hearts so they seem to truly understand the “why” after causing the hard feeling but are definitely not yet able to consistently see the action- reaction connection.
*Flashback* I don’t specifically remember these younger years of my life, but I certainly know I made poor, horrible, terrible, no good, very bad decisions. In 34 years, you could probably go around the earth a few hundred times if you lined up all my bad decisions end-to-end on a written piece of paper.
I know I carried the guilt for some of these choices around for a long time.
There have been intense prayers and moments of quiet meditation reflecting on my stupid decisions. Tears, guilt, shame, and anxiety. I’ve been there. It isn’t like I have many deep dark horrible secrets. Most of my bad choices were obvious and at least, semi-public. It’s more like you start digging a little hole and eventually all your little shovels of dirt end up making something bigger when they are all put together.
And then I realized something…
I’ve already been forgiven for these bad choices. I’ve owned up to most of them to the other person and most importantly to God. He already knew. He was just waiting for me to acknowledge where I’ve fallen. He allowed Jesus to come and pick me back up.
And in all of this reflection – I’ve realized that the one person who keeps harping on things that happened in my younger years IS ME. It’s just me.
I need to keep forgiving myself. Just like I forgive my kids when they make bad choices and in turn, they forgive each other, I need to remember that I have a loving God who forgives me. I need to remember that patient grace that is extended to me and extend it on them.
They will learn just as they did yesterday with the purple tiara incident. “Life is a lively process of becoming.”- MacArthur
Psalm 103 is a beautiful psalm about forgiveness and love.