What is it that makes forgiveness so hard to ask for, so hard to give, and so life-changing when it happens authentically?
In my memories, my parents fought through all of my childhood. Different personalities, life and work pressures, insecurities and immaturities all added to the fire, and alcoholism added fuel. Eventually, they divorced after 25 years of marriage. It was not pretty. It was not amicable.
For almost 30 years they have lived in the same city, but never saw each other. At first, we could not even mention my mom’s name in front of my dad. We arranged every holiday and every family event around which parent we would visit when, or which one of them would be invited to attend. It could never be both of them at the same time. They will never know how many hours of planning, debate, maneuvering, and heart anguish accompanied each special occasion through the years.
This Thanksgiving, something amazing happened. My parents agreed – for the first time in almost 30 years – to give thanks…. together. The death of a spouse, terminal cancer, and many years passing finally cleared the way for reconciliation, acceptance, forgiveness, and peace.
There were a few uncertain and awkward moments (mostly by the siblings who were orchestrating the event), but all in all, it was one of the most significant and inspiring holidays that I can remember.
It was a powerful, healing moment for everyone – even the grandchildren – to watch my parents greet each other at the front door… both very frail, very tired, and finally… very at peace.
Neither could eat very much, but the meal was sacred. They did not talk of anything substantial – dementia has stolen that opportunity – but their interaction was deeply meaningful to all who were there.
My parents’ reunion after all these years does not change much at this point in time… and it changes everything.
Their willing hearts were a testimony to hope.
My family watched the life-end desire for peace overcome long-guarded anger and separation. We experienced genuine humility vanquish pride, regret, and deep pain. stubbornness lost to prayer, patience, and perseverance over time.
There is a new freedom in our lives – and in our children’s lives. A freedom won by broken lives restored and divided families reunited. A freedom earned by barriers torn down and destroyed. A freedom gained by letting go of bitterness and grabbing on to forgiveness. A freedom that carries a belief in the impossible, because we saw it happen with our own eyes.
Forgiveness is powerful.
Is there someone you need to forgive today? You don’t have to wait.