Making the choice to…

forgive

“I was angry with my friend; I told my wrath, my wrath did end.  I was angry with my foe: I told it not, my wrath did grow.”   – William Blake

Last year during Lent I wrote a piece about betrayal. In that piece I wrote of times in my own life in which I’d felt betrayed. Since then I could add another to that list. Betrayal is the worst kind of pain, in my opinion. I see betrayal as wrong inflicted when the person(s) doing the wrong are aware of the pain they are about to cause and they do it anyway. It is different from having a tiff or hurting something without meaning to. It cuts deeply. Bleeds freely. And, is more difficult to forgive. But, what are the consequences of holding onto that anger?

In the poem “A Poison Tree” by William Blake that I’ve quote above, the poet offers two scenarios. The first is the first line of the poem. He’s angry with his friend – they talk about it – and the anger ends. The second scenario is the rest of the poem. He’s angry with a foe and that anger festers and deepens until his foe is dead. The point is that holding onto anger is not healthy – for anyone involved.

Not only is not healthy, it is not productive and it leaves us stuck in the past. We may be walking forward with one foot but other one is glued to whatever hurt us and will not move until we let it go. That’s where forgiveness comes in. We have to let it go – for our sake.

See, forgiveness is not something we do for the other person. We are not condoning the action nor are we letting them off the hook. In some cases, the other person may not be feeling a thing. We may be walking around with this weight once inflicted by someone else but now we’re just dragging it along so we can hold over them when in the long run we are just hurting ourselves. Getting to the point of forgiveness is our chance to drop that weight.

What we do with the relationship after forgiveness is up to us. We may be better off without them. We may need to take things slowly. And, the truth is, we may never really trust them again – at least not until they prove themselves trustworthy. But the important thing is that the other foot – the one was that still glued to the pain – is finally unstuck and we can face forward and begin to walk faster and perhaps even break into a skip or a jog.

In the last couple of days I’ve finally gotten my other foot unstuck. It was not an easy journey. I also have a memory like a steel trap, so I don’t forget. But, the burden is lifted and I’m ready to run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring Break!

spring-break

And, it arrives. That season of spring fever, the first hints of warm weather, the smell of the salt, and the sound of the waves. The age old ritual of hitting the road from near and far and heading to the closest beach and, in some cases the closest bar, to shake of winter and relax before the homestretch to summer. For the next couple of months teachers and students alike will be counting the days until it’s their turn.

Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

Well. If you’re in the service industry along the coast it means you are about to be busier than you have been in months and you’re probably not ready. You think you are – but you’re not. I’ve said for years that anyone in the vacation industry needs a conditioning regiment in the months leading up to spring break just to be physically prepared for the onslaught that’s coming.

Tonight, Friday, March 10, 2017 – for the first time in 10 YEARS – I’m not dreading the first Saturday morning in March. I don’t have a headache. I’m not going to be up working late. I’m not going to have to hit the ground running in the morning wondering if I’m going to be able to drink an entire cup of coffee before the first grumpy guest calls the office. I don’t have to fight traffic. I don’t have to wait to pay for gas so someone from Wisconsin can purchase a lottery ticket. And, I don’t have to listen to the screams from the rides at the water park just outside my door. In fact, I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.

I get to sleep in tomorrow. I get to have a weekend.

I’m 3 days into a new job in a new industry leading to a new career, God willing, and from everything I can see so far I’m in good place with happy people with an organization that knows how to treat people and take care of their employees. This is a new experience and I’m looking forward to taking it one day at a time.

To my friends still in the industry – God bless you and hold tight. To friends that are heading to the beaches of anywhere – be kind to the people working hard to make it a happy week for you. Be safe. Have fun.

Happy Spring Break, everyone. I’m blissfully grateful you are going on without me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A familiar pain

lonely

In 2004, just days after Hurricane Ivan dropped a tree thru my front wall, my parents decided that it was time they left Meridian and went back to Mobile to check on the house and begin post-storm life and whatever that might entail. I was out of danger and they knew that the community I was a part of was going to take care of me until they could come back. They packed the truck and got my Grandmother and their lab, Bela, all tucked in and back out of the driveway. I stood in the street and watched the tail lights fade into the distance. I was 32. I felt more like 7. I was terrified, had no idea what was next, and everything that felt safe and comforting was driving away.

Recognize the feeling? Of course you do. We’ve all been there. The first day of a new school. The day your parents drop you off at your dorm freshman year of college. A move to a new town. The first day of a new job. That moment when your stomach turns over and everything inside you wants to run back to last place you felt safe and hold on for dear life.

For the last month or so I have been working part time at a local assisted living facility. Tonight was my last evening before a new full time job begins next week. During my shift a new resident was scheduled to move into her apartment. Her family had come several times during the week to move in furniture and set things up so it was ready for her. The community had done their job, making sure that her name was on her door, her keys ready, emergency information given, meal times, beauty shop, activity schedule, and even a little welcome gift were all ready for her arrival. Her daughter signed in and let us know that she would staying with her mother for the weekend to get her settled and acclimated. The little lady sat quietly in her wheelchair, dressed like she would going to bed pretty soon. Her daughter began to push her chair and said “here we go” in a bright, optimistic tone. The reply, tentative and unsure, was simply a quiet “okay”. And, it broke my heart.

In that moment all I could think was “oh my gosh – I know that feeling.” This little lady is in a place that is strange and new and different. She’ll have her things around her and opportunities to make new friends and participate in the life of the community as she is able. But, at some point in the couple of days, her family will get in their car and they will leave her there. It’s a lovely place with good people – but right now – it’s scary and unsettling.

The universal truth in all of this is our human need to feel safe and secure and loved. This can come from family or co-workers or church or whatever group of family and friends we create. We need to feel that the next time we find ourselves watching the tail lights fade that there is going to be a hand to take or a friend to call or a smile that says “you’re not alone.” For some making those connections comes easily. But, for some of us, it’s more difficult. Think about that the next time you see a new face in the crowd – one that looks a little lost or scared.

I mentioned a new job that begins next week. It’s not only a new job, it’s a completely new direction from where I’ve been the last 10 years. A welcome change for sure, but scary. That will be followed by a new apartment community. I’m already venturing into a new church. All good things in the place I wanted to be. I’m hopeful for new connections even as I struggle to make them happen, while ever grateful for the safety of home and family and the strength they give me to keep moving past the fear into whatever comes next.