You Are Only As good As Your Word

You choke on the words.

They are still waiting to hear I’m not sorry.

Tired of the line. Standing, repeating, I’m not ready.

Digging in, digging deeper, it’s all the same when you don’t see me.

Walk through the rain, walk the line, walk with me if you want to walk the walk.

Choose your battles, choose your words. Choke them down and spit them out.

Judge me by the time you greet me. Make me, by the time you leave me.

Why should I prove I am anything but what you won’t see coming?

Trying to find the words is like trying to find the way. Harder routes leave bigger scars but clearer paths.

Aren’t you tired of being sorry for not being sorry enough? I’m tired of waiting to see what sorry means for next time.

If you forgive then you forget. If I forgive you still forget. Win-win? There is no winner.

Empty words or empty souls? Are there any words left where I can find some breathing room?

With arms wide open you shut the door that I left open.

Eager to show me what you’ve gained by my mistakes, I stare at the show wondering what I paid. The cheap seats are always in the front row, until I show you the door has a better view.

Set my darkest hours free with just my words. Then step back and give them room. Room to run or room to shine a light on yours.

We all have shadows we can’t see without the lights on.

I want to find a place to stack forgiveness up so high, it shelters both of us.

That place is here. That place is now. I don’t know what’s on the other side anymore. That place has gone sideways anyhow.

Here is where the walls come down. Where here it is, that you belong.

Let’s take the gloves off and dig in.

Don’t choke on words I need to say. I am ready to speak when I’m ready to listen.

All the broken lines won’t see this coming- I am not sorry enough to keep you out. I’m sorry enough to keep you in.

 

These words describe the struggle we all encounter when bitterness prevents us from moving forward. Stubbornness and refusal to forgive becomes a weapon when it prevents all involved in the hurt from being granted forgiveness, including forgiving ourselves.

When I was pressed by family a few years ago, to forgive my mentally ill mother for a lifetime of abuse, it seemed like my forgiveness was the last and most powerful tool I had, and I clung to it in order to validate my hurt. I kept assuring them I had forgiven her, but I was actually holding tightly to my forgiveness so that if she hurt me again, which she did, again and again, I could hold it up like a shield with a sign that read, “My ticket to protection from you. You will never get this.” The problem is, the better part of me needed to give that forgiveness away entirely in order to emerge. And so I did. I gave it to her completely and finally, for the first time. And it set me free.

I do believe that forgiveness looks different to each of us. My forgiveness was strung along by an expectation from my family that with it, should come acceptance of my mother’s continued hurts, and an allowance of she back into my life. I was scared and viewed this expectation as my only shield being ripped away. Over time, it seemed as if my dangling forgiveness of my mother was actually causing further hurt to all of us; because I was stubbornly refusing not to package mine as the same kind of forgiveness they had given to her. I had to finally learn that it’s ok to forgive differently and let go of carrying the guilt of other’s people’s expectations of my forgiveness.

We see and read everywhere, that forgiveness is personal, and perhaps often self-serving. I believe that forgiveness sets you free, so that your better self can arise and show not just you but others, that we all deserve more. It is not an invitation for future hurts or an eraser of past ones. It cannot look like anyone else’s forgiveness, even if given for the same circumstances, because it is uniquely yours. Forgiveness shows us we are capable and deserving of more than the chains that tie us down to bitterness and resentment. It teaches us we are resilient, but it does not always remove the pain.

There have been many times in my life that I have hoped desperately to deserve and be granted forgiveness by those I’ve hurt. The resilience I’ve learned in life has come when I am not granted forgiveness. Is it fair? No. But not being granted forgiveness when I feel deserving, almost entitled to it, teaches me how vital it is to give it to those I don’t believe deserve it either.

I challenge all of you to forgive yourself first, for holding onto your forgiveness as if it’s a weapon to keep winning with. The fight is over. Everybody wins, and everybody loses. Forgiveness levels the playing field so we can move forward, armed with a better strategy. We don’t have to forget the battle; but should remember those we lost while fighting, including ourselves.

When someone gives you a gift, accept it. It’s a piece of themselves. When someone shows you grace, show someone else. That’s a piece of God.

 

 

 

 

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Photo Credit: Jenny Benett