What Does It Mean, Anyway?


So many Oprah shows featuring forgiveness… so many touching lessons.  I can’t even imagine that people survive some of their circumstances, let alone forgive the perpetrators who have caused them so much pain – the drunk drivers, the molesters, those who did dreadful things to others while using drugs, the murderers….

I’m a PK –  Preacher’s Kid, grew up in a small town in Oregon.  My parents were divorced – a sad, ugly divorce (aren’t they all!), the talk of our small town.  My father married my mother’s best friend following their divorce.  And yes, I have trust issues – another story.  Needless to say, there was a lot of anger, pain and a huge need for forgiveness – over and over again, and for many years.  What did forgiveness mean?  What would I have to give up if I were to forgive.

My first marriage failed – for some very valid reasons.  How could I ever forgive my ex for some of the things he did.  How could I ever forgive myself?    What did forgiveness even mean?  I didn’t know.   I made so many mistakes raising my children.  How could they ever forgive me?  How could I forgive myself when I realized my mistakes.  Painful, very painful.

I’m 71 years old and over the years I’ve needed to forgive and ask for forgiveness, many times.  But what does forgiveness really mean anyway?

Somewhere along the way, I learned that forgiveness does not mean I’m excusing the person or the incident – saying it was OK, it means  letting go, letting God, not holding a grudge, keeping my boundaries but not building up walls.   It means not trying to punish myself or someone else.  Letting go of blame.

I learned from Oprah’s guest that forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past will ever be different – acceptance?  Acknowledging and releasing?   Yes!  To me, part of forgiveness is releasing fear – fear that the same thing will happen again.   I can learn a lesson from the experience and not allow it to happen again.  I know better.

My mantra is “When I know better, I do better”.   Maya Angelou.  I just love her.

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