Thursday, July 29, 2010

Imperfections = Need for Forgiveness All Around

All of us are children, all of us have parents, and some of us have children and are parents but what we all have in common is the need for forgiveness. Indeed, I think perhaps the greatest thing we can teach our children and offer our parents is forgiveness.

When my daughter was a teenager, I was convinced that she would hate me for the rest of her life. I just knew that my mother's curse ("I hope you have a daughter just like you") had come true, and I was destined to live forever with a broken heart and an angry child.

But maybe it was not a curse after all. Although I thought my mother was useless when I was a teenager, I did not feel that way in the few years I had between the end of my teenage years and her early death when I was 24. In fact, I love my mother so very much and appreciate her -- and that is the gift my own daughter gives me every day. I do have a daughter who is just like me -- maybe it was not a curse but rather -- a gift.

My mother was so far from perfect. I remember standing in her kitchen telling her that I -- a high school failure and seven month pregnant with my second child at the age of 20 -- was going to take three classes at the community college; her response was, "why are you doing that? You never finish anything." OUCH but what a good motivator -- I love proving people wrong ;)

I don't know why I so easily forgive my mother for not being the perfect mother, but I did and I do. Maybe it is because I am a mother, and know well that forgiveness is what I need from my own children, or maybe it is that I recognize that I was not a perfect daughter and therefore required forgiveness. But whatever the reason, I have found forgiveness to be easier on the heart than disappointment...

As children, we fail our parents. I wanted my daughter to be taller than me and play basketball for Stanford -- and she had the nerve to stop growing at a measly 5'7 and did not play basketball in college. All of us have idealized children who are quite different from the ones that show up in our lives.

The challenge with our children and our parents is to let go of what we think *should* be, and embrace what is. You are right -- you did not get perfect parents, and your mom let you down -- well, guess what? Your parents did not get a perfect child, and you let them down -- let's all get over it.

It is a waste of time to try and change our kids or our parents -- what is required is forgiveness, and that is most definitely a choice we can make -- or not. We need to forgive our parents for being human, for not being perfect, and for all the zillions of mistakes they made -- after all, you did not arrive with an instruction manual!

And we need to forgive our children for being human, for not being perfect, and for the zillions of mistake they have already made and will make in the future -- after all, they did not have perfect parents to guide them!

Forgiveness means not hoarding anger and resentment, or storing up slights to throw in the face of the one who blessed us with life -- or blessed our life. No, forgiveness means letting go -- it means you let things go through you rather than grabbing them and wasting energy holding on to nastiness. Forgiveness means loving without a requirement that anyone -- including yourself -- is perfect.

But forgiveness does not mean that we must remain in the line of fire when a parent or child struggles to be loving and forgiving of YOUR imperfections. I am a big believer in the importance and value of compassionate detachment -- walking away from relationships that hurt us, but in a gentle way and not with feet stomping anger and a slammed (and locked) door. We can forgive without being engaged -- remember not to hug a rattlesnake but don't beat him or her with a stick for being who and what they are.

We should not chase the one who hurts us -- that is like poking a stick at a rattlesnake and then complaining when we get bitten. Instead, reflect on the importance of forgiving everyone involved -- including yourself. All of us do the best we can at the time, and it falls short -- welcome to life as a human being. If you want to learn how to forgive and love without condition, hang around with dogs.

Galen, who did not realize that others had solved the cow code, posted the correct answer -- and wins a few months of rent-free life in Montana -- I hope he comes up soon to collect his prize (but I suspect he won't -- darn it)!! In the meantime, he wants pictures of Sydney so here we go...

Syd says she is looking forward to seeing Galen AND her Aunt Lisa!

Syd wanted to help get ready for Camp Berner next week so she is doing some pruning...

She got Asia to help out...

Zoey kept a watchful eye on Karma -- if she can't chase her ball, Karma is a nice second choice...

Karma actually quite enjoys playing with Zoey, and they are fun to watch...

Zoey is very happy to have her dad up here!

Good-night Moon

I have been just waiting to introduce you to George but cannot get a decent picture. One morning I came back from a bike ride to find an adorable fawn watching me!!! I was enthralled as he just stood there watching me as I rode down the driveway. I said to him, "you are very curious" and then knew his name is George!! Look closely and you can see his little head...

George will not always think his mom is perfect, but that is okay because neither is he! Who do you need to forgive today -- well, besides yourself?


  1. Excellent sermon, but hard to practice.

  2. Wow, I just talking to my dad about how much more I understood my mom. She was so depressed and angry when we were teenagers, she never really got much better and I was not at all forgiving. :( We have always had a rotten non-relationship and now I would like to talk to her about it and she is not mentally there enough to know who I am. I need to steel up my nerve and try to go talk to her.