The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter

These times are so uncertain
There's a yearning undefined...People filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age
The trust and self-assurance that can lead to happiness
They're the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us,
Doesn't keep me warm
I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter
Because the flesh will get weak
And the ashes will scatter
So I'm thinkin' about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore

~Don Henley and Mike Campbell

This is a song I remember my Mother singing around the house. Mom loved it because of the forgiveness part of it. My Mother’s entire core was forgiveness. She could forgive anyone and I watched it work for her about a thousand times in a row. She kept doing it because it kept working but she really kept doing it because she felt it was indicative of love and compassion. I have heard people call her a spineless jellyfish who would get walked on but I guarantee you I have never met a soul on earth to date who had the solid character she had and when all is said and done and we buried her, her character is what has lived on…not anger and a sense of injustice.

Forgiveness is one of those topics that when you bring it up you want to hide behind a shield or even a suit of armor to avoid the mega spears thrown at you. It’s not because people are unwilling to forgive, I believe people are good overall and would love to be able to forgive…I think it’s because the idea behind forgiveness conjures up all the hurts and pain from whatever happened. THIS is valid.

Feeling hurt or terrorized by someone will absolutely bring on all the associated feelings. A person should not be made to feel guilty about being angry at being harmed. I just feel like when a person has hurt me, they gave me more than one little ‘gift’. They not only set down a very large basket on my front porch full of anger, sadness and sleepless nights, but they keep sending me presents every day of the year in the form of bitterness.

I really believe that the act of forgiveness has been massively misinterpreted by society. Somewhere along the line we equate forgiveness to hanging out on Saturday nights with the person who did us wrong. I look at forgiveness as a free gift, not a free pass. When I say it’s free, I don’t feel it is earned. If you believe forgiveness has to be earned, you may be confusing the actual meaning of the word with ‘trust’. Trust has to go through it’s stages. She would say, ‘Let’s start again’ and she wouldn’t necessarily put the ‘and forget’ part onto the end of forgive. How can you forget something that someone did to you? That would be asking your brain to perform its own lobotomy. It’s seldom physically possible to do. When someone gives trust or says something is forgotten, I believe that is grace. Admirable, but tough.

When Don Henley sang, ‘because the flesh will get weak and the ashes will scatter so I’m thinking about forgiveness even if you don’t love me anymore’ I believe he wanted to set things right before it was too late to do so. I have heard hundreds of stories from people who were tormented by having no closure when someone they know dies. That never leaves and rarely fixes itself. I am happy to say, I have no regrets with my Mother, our relationship was next to perfect. It’s because she would forgive me (and of course keep a close eye on me) ;)

I bring up my Mother a lot as my biggest mentor because I long to be like her. Her grace and compassion was given to those who didn’t deserve it and I would see them come to her hospital bed when she was dying and beg for forgiveness. She had already forgiven them and told them where she too was wrong in the situation. The look on someone’s face leaving the room after experiencing that looked like they were seconds away from collapse. They simply couldn’t put into words how exceptional she was. Why wouldn’t I strive to capture that as a personal character goal to work towards? I would stand in the hospital staring back at them as they left, not surprised by how Mom would handle them, but because the power of her forgiveness would silence everyone.

Powerful is not a word we usually associate with it. I have blogged before about how love seems to be a sign of weakness and what a prevailing force it is.

I know forgiveness is really hard. I know it hurts so so so badly. We need love and compassion to heal our wounds after someone has hurt us but I believe we need to show love and compassion to those who have hurt us so the world won’t lose forgiveness altogether. How will we ever know what it is if we haven’t been forgiven? How will we know what to do if we haven’t experienced it first-hand?

The only thing that allows me to forgive someone is because I have been forgiven by someone even though I didn’t ask to be forgiven. I felt so undeserving of their forgiveness and they showed it anyways.

Now, for those of us who have hurt someone, we can speed up the process by at least asking for it. But isn’t it overwhelmingly magical when it’s just given? I believe it’s our responsibility to pay that forward too.

I have spent hours lying on my bed staring at the ceiling amazed by forgiveness, amazed by compassion and humbled by the love I have been shown. It set me on a thought process where I started to see that more anger won’t fix anything. Action is needed, sure but love historically has prevailed and I believe it is about to make the biggest comeback….if for no other reason than we are running out of options. ;) Why are we so reluctant to go there? Is it to avoid future hurt? I don’t think forgiving someone protects us from future problems nor does it induce future hurt. It seems to be its own thing.

Maybe love never left…and the comeback is just in my life.

Making shapes out of the clouds,
Karen :)

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future.” ~Bernard Meltzer

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