Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Cost of Forgiveness

As any good capitalist will note, there is a price for everything. It is most often the emotional or relational price that we forget about,  that are the ones that cost the most. You pay the price in giving up the emotion or by giving away the relationship.

Saying goodbye feels like giving up.  Goodbye feels so final, like it is not even possible to see you again.  It feels like all the memories held in the object departing will be lost for good.  It feels like all possible outcomes I ever imagined and dreamed of were teases, and I should not allow myself to visit them because the knowledge that they cannot be is too painful.

We hear that sometimes relationships get to a point where goodbye is necessary because there is too much hatred and pain and it is better to just let it all go.  However, reconciliation is not about getting rid of the source of conflict (read avoiding the pain and heartache), but about restoring the lost dignity, humanity and even restoring the relationship.

Paying the price of a goodbye is costly in merely coming to that decision.  It is even more costly once decided upon, because sometimes goodbye doesn’t last.  After days, weeks, months, years of agonizing over the decision to say goodbye – analyzing what the leaving really means – to drag your heart through the process of saying goodbye only for the object of your goodbye to show up again makes the payment ineffective.  Why spend all the heartache on a goodbye if it doesn’t purchase a complete severance?

When the goodbye doesn’t last, or may not be possible, we will save ourselves great burdens of hatred and anger by allowing the other to not be the symbol of our salvation.  Lindsey and Steve fell in love so young, and dropped hard out of love.  But there was too much history and too much shared interest to allow a complete break.  For years, they projected all their hurts and heartaches onto the other.  Goodbye was a tall order, neither one was okay with the other finding new relationships.  But so was hanging around; speaking to one another was awkward, and hanging out with mutual friends made everyone feel uncomfortable.  This baggage was heavy, but the nature of their professional interaction made it impossible to put this baggage down.  They had to say goodbye, but not to each other.

The price of forgiveness is the crushed hopes and dreams and desire for revenge or harm to the other.  The price is the ability to say goodbye to the rights you feel the other has taken from you.  Saying goodbye to the need desire to inflict great harm on the one who hurt you means killing the hope that they would be the one to offer wholeness and a satisfying relationship.  This increases the cost of goodbye, and who wants to pay that price? Innate to human nature is a desire for satisfaction and a feeling of wholeness found in being in relationship with one another. When this desire is crushed by a broken relationship our gut reaction is to wish great harm upon the other.  The only way to forgive though, is to say goodbye to the desire to hurt the other back.

“Sometimes solutions aren’t so simple. Sometimes goodbye is the only way. Sometimes beginnings aren’t so simple. Sometimes goodbye is the only way.” Linkin’ Park, “Shadow of the Day”

Yes, sometimes goodbye is the only way.  Sometimes, however, goodbye is required of something other than the person/relationship/place.  Sometimes you must say goodbye to your dreams, to your pride and entitlement and revenge.  Sometimes you must say goodbye to yourself.

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Restorative Justice

Crime is costly. But so is true forgiveness.  This article proves just how emotionally costly this process can be. And yet, the freedom the family finds in the end is worth it all.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/magazine/can-forgiveness-play-a-role-in-criminal-justice.html?pagewanted=1&_r=5&hp

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Agendas

We all have them. Sometimes this means we hope to finish reading the book on the bedside table (or that stupid assignment that was distributed 4 weeks ago); or to get the dishes put away; or to pick up the kids at 3:15, get over to soccer by 3:45, drop-off the dry cleaning, prepare a nutritious and delicious meal that all family members will eat, and get the sheets put back onto the beds.

Sometimes this means finally meeting with the major partner that we are hoping to work with on a new program.

And sometimes this means convincing the majority of humanity that your belief system is the only way to see the world, to understand the world, to organize the information we receive, and the only way to define your behaviors and actions.

Right or wrong, we all have them. Humans operate on self-interest, and are socialized (hopefully learn?) to act on the good of the majority. This blog’s agenda is to show how people work towards and hopefully achieve peace. As has been previously discussed, this achievement will never be through self-protection. Someone has to literally drop their own agenda and imagine the reasons for the other side’s actions.

Pointing fingers will always, always, always put the other side on the defensive. So releasing a statement that blames a specific person for something will always end with a fight. And releasing a movie that blames an entire religion for (what even, being boorish?) will only result in defensive feelings and a need to prove that video wrong.

But let us escalate tensions even further shall we? One tiny, crazy group of people offends another tiny, crazy group of people somewhere else. The offended group responds with murder of a bystander that probably had no idea the offensive video was even produced. (http://world.time.com/2012/09/11/cairos-u-s-embassy-incident-two-sets-of-fundamentalisms-unleash-havoc/?cid=nlc-dailybrief-daily_news_brief-link6-20120912 )

Now more people are involved. But rather than responding to what was originally ignited (the film in this case), top leaders begin to accuse one another of improperly responding (so as to garner more votes in an upcoming election). (http://tinyurl.com/9yzz56w)

There are now four major agendas in play here, none of which are actually communicating with the other, but all of them are taking offense at the others. Give it time and more players will start taking sides, but in reality only pushing their own agenda. Pretty soon there are so many agendas at play that no one is communicating anything. We choose what we want to hear and respond with what our personal agenda is.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if somewhere in that mess, even just one player, decided to stop communicating with the agenda and actually respond to the reality of the events? That could lead to some true break through in communication. Who knows, maybe even eventual peace. That might be cool.

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Choices

On her blog, Undecided, Shannon Kelley states: “Choosing one thing means you’re killing the possibility of having the other. And when we’re raised on the idea that anything’s possible–and every option is available–we see choosing anything as settling. And, of course, it is–it’s settling for something less than everything.”

Which is true. Saying yes to one thing means saying to no to an unknown number of other things. This would not be a problem if we knew for sure what we wanted out of life. When you know what specific job, house, and friends you want it is easy to go and find them and make them yours.

But as Americans we have been told that we can have and be anything we want. So small children say they want to grow up and be soccer balls, birthday cakes, or hippopotamuses; and we laugh, say how cute, and know they will one day grow out of that belief. But these are logical decisions. They can be anything. No exclusions. We told them so. And then our young adults leave the confines of the education system and fall into depression or ADD because they can’t decide what job to focus on, what city to live in, and whether spending every day with the same group of people is worth their time.

These are worthwhile considerations. The world is a big place. There are lots of great ways to live.

I’ve been laughed at (in a kind-of, ‘oh how adorable’ sort of laugh) for wanting to do everything. I honest to God would enjoy a fulfilled, happy life as a bed and breakfast owner in Santa Fe, as a rancher in Montana, or as a shepherd in New Zealand. Those jobs would be AWESOME.

But you know, after I denied my humanity by dreaming my life away in high school, and after succumbing to anger at my humanity in college, and after the bargaining I did with the universe, and after the depression I found myself sucked into, I have no choice left but to accept. Accept the fact that we can’t do anything, be anything, have everything.

I have one life, one chance, one story. I can have a long story, yes. But only one. And while a choice to take a job, or rent a house, or even, gasp, get married means that there are other jobs, homes, or possible life endings that I cannot experience, I have to offer myself some grace and allow that possibility. As I’ve noted before, all we truly have in our lives is the opportunity to choose.

Yes, settling is a terrible word. However, living  life in the world of what-ifs and dreams is a worse fate. And keeping options open unfairly strings along all the bosses, girlfriends, landlords, boyfriends, and adventures that we can’t commit to.

You can’t have it all, but you can make a choice. And live the hell out of the choice you make.

 

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