Forgiveness

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Grief, forgiveness, and love

Monday, August 28th, 2017

A few months ago, my life was completely upended when a man I deeply loved betrayed my trust and broke my heart. While the details matter to me, all I’ll say is this: I was planning to move to Nashville so we could be together, but it didn’t happen. The relationship was serious enough to warrant me selling my house and putting a down payment on another — but when a man tells you there’s someone else, you do not follow through with a move across the country to be with him.

I have hesitated to write about this, because in doing so, I can only share my own experience. This person is living a now separate narrative, and despite the pain that his choices have put me through, I am not out to demonize or villainize anyone involved. He meant more to me than that. I’m just sad.

I want to be honest about what I’ve gone through, what I’m still going through. I am not writing from a place of resolution or remedy; the heartache is still very much in process for me because I lost so much. I lost a man who had become my best person. I lost a relationship I had been led to believe was “it.” I lost a dream of a future that had made so much sense — even felt confirmed and ordained by God, to be honest. I lost not one, but two houses. I lost any sense of direction or home. I lost the ability to trust. I lost 15 lbs and a whole lot of money. I lost everything we had been building toward. Cruelest of all, in some moments, I lost all hope.

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How do you hold the conflicting emotions of heartbreak, anger, and the remnants of love all at the same time? It’s an unbearable tension. But here is what I’m learning.

GRIEF
To experience grief in all of its awful fullness is human and healthy. To sidestep it, whether through alcohol, travel, social media, shopping, sex, or tattoos, is to cauterize our humanity. It’s best to lean straight into the pain; if we don’t, it will seep like oil through a bed of dead leaves, poisoning life from the ground up. Numbed-out grief leads to anger, anger leads to depression, depression leads to a critical spirit and a lack of peace.

But grief? We are promised that grief leads to comfort. Beauty. Dancing. I want to be a person who looks my pain in the eye, regardless of what it costs me, and then rest in knowing that there is still goodness ahead — eventually.

FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness is not primarily for the one you are forgiving. It’s for you. Choosing to forgive sets you free from the bondage of what was done to you, the pain that was inflicted upon you. It doesn’t change it, it certainly doesn’t excuse any of it — but it loosens your chains and allows you to move forward, inch by inch, breath by breath, day by day. When you release the grip on your right to harm the other person, you get your hands back. You get your life back. Slowly.

It doesn’t happen all at once. I’m finding it’s something I have to do over and over in the hopes that one day my heart will match the choice. It stings like a death; a grave is involved, the burying of a perfectly good hatchet.

Nothing about it feels fair. Nothing about it feels justified. But isn’t that the point?

LOVE
You cannot love without risk. There is no such thing. The pain I’m in comes from the love I felt, because I was brave enough to show up as my fullest, truest self and enter a relationship that mattered. And when you truly love someone, you don’t get to be in control. To force, to clutch, to cling, to do whatever it takes to get your way — that is not a picture of love. That is a picture of fear. Fear is a liar, and the opposite of love.

This may have ended in disaster for me, but I will never regret opening my heart to hope and allowing myself to be known by another. It’s the bravest thing I’ve ever done, and a testament to strength, not weakness.

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I am not “recovered.” This experience has altered my insides in ways I struggle to articulate. I was left heartbroken and homeless, and some days I’m still so sad, when I walk around I swear you can hear my heart rattle in my chest. Time truly is the only healer for something so brutal, and unfortunately, there’s no way to fast-forward. But I’ve made it through these first few months; here I raise my Ebenezer.

You may be wondering where I am. I obviously had to move out of my Minneapolis house in July, gutted and reeling, suddenly with nowhere to go. But thanks to my amazing friends and family, I’ve found places to go. Foxy is with me, of course. We’re being taken care of.

I have missed sharing my life in a virtual way. It didn’t feel right for me to carry on posting like nothing had happened, because racking up likes and comments is a false balm. The pain of this betrayal has been potent, and it’s been important for me to honor it by bearing the full weight of what I’ve lost. But I’m still here.

The path I took to get here has washed out behind me. The way forward isn’t yet clear. But I’m gathering the broken pieces in hopes of building something new. It’s not the future that I wanted, but it’s the future that I’m going to get. And somehow, I want to live it well.

You’ll be hearing from me again soon, grief and forgiveness and love intermingled, moving forward and holding on to hope for dear life.

Huge thanks to my amazing sister-in-law Ashley Parsons for capturing this image. You’ve helped remind me that I’m strong in a season when I’ve felt anything but.

Forgive again, begin again

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

It’s never too late to learn how to forgive, over and over and over.

Today is another one of those days.

Taking my chances

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Without first being angry, you cannot forgive.
Without first being unsure, you cannot trust.
Without first being afraid, you cannot be brave.

If you find yourself in any of these less-than-desirable places today, you are really just on the verge of a beautiful opportunity.

A chance to forgive.  A chance to trust.  A chance to be brave.

A chance to trade up for something better.

Because after all, what’s so great about bitterness and fear?

Let’s be more interesting than that.

On forgiveness

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

It’s amazing how quickly I, an alleged full-grown woman, can revert back to feeling like I did with other girls in elementary school: insecure, timid, and small.  Recently, a moment leapt out of nowhere and grabbed me by the throat, reducing me to those irrepressible tears that leave me shaky and sick to my stomach – because my feelings got hurt.

I am naturally a sensitive person, but I’m also fairly rational.  I don’t get my feelings hurt all that often – mainly because I am largely surrounded by pretty tremendous humans who rarely do or say mean-spirited things.

But when it does happen, it makes me feel so sad, and shocked, and ultimately, rejected.

How could I NOT cry?

But here is the difference between 9-year old Annie and today’s Annie: to forgive is to not let those feelings take root – even when they are justified.  To forgive is to deflect any feelings of insecurity catalyzed by those initial words.  To forgive is to let go of what is right, reasonable, and defensible – in favor of something entirely unsensible.

It’s hard work, forgiveness… but then again, isn’t it our very best option?  Isn’t it the easiest, most freeing thing we could possibly do – to simply let it go?

No one ever loses if no one is keeping score.

Forgiveness

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

When I was in Kansas City last weekend, I confessed to my mom that I am really angry with someone. Really mad. I am harboring some strong unforgiveness toward this person for wronging me – and trust me, I was wronged. This person did some sloppy things, and I was the recipient of the mud-to-the-face.

But my mom, as usual, had some wise words. She said that forgiveness is letting go of your “right” to harm the other person, no matter how justified your anger might be. She said that forgiveness is being willing to carry the pain, until the day that it doesn’t hurt anymore. And she said that forgiveness starts with choosing to forgive, and then praying that someday, your feelings will match that choice.

I believe in forgiveness. I believe that choosing to love rather than harm is always the right decision. And I believe that our hearts can be healed, no matter how bad it might feel right now.