I hope you had a good week, and maybe even some fun on Halloween, with or without children. My children have always dressed up on Halloween, even into their young adulthood, and gone to parties, but they all work so hard at their jobs now, that I think most of them stayed home that night. My youngest son sent me a photo of a very elaborate pumpkin he carved, so he paid tribute to Halloween after all. And I gave a dinner for my God Children, with black cats, a black owl, and glittery green rats on the table, and lots of candy. It’s a fun day. And now my thoughts are turning to Thanksgiving, which is a holiday that always makes me think. It’s really all about friendship, gathering friends around you, and being grateful for whatever you can think of. On hard years, that can be a real challenge, but it’s an important thought. Being Grateful, giving thanks. Sometimes being grateful for even the smallest things can make a huge difference. It’s a lot easier to complain about what you don’t have, than to be grateful for what you do. But being grateful, even for a minute is so important.
When I have time, I like reading the Bible at times. I know that sounds corny, but I often find some thought that helps me. I get lost in the ‘Begats’, about who is related to who. But there are simple phrases that jump out at me that have meant a lot to me. “Love never fails”, I love that one. “Nothing is impossible” has brought me a lot of comfort, and there is a phrase that meant a lot to me one very lonely Thanksgiving when I was alone years ago, “God places the solitary in families”. It proved to be true that year, I was invited to spend the holiday with friends, and years later, surrounded by my own big family, I remembered that phrase and it touched me. I also find guidelines sometimes about rules of life and ethics that make sense, and I’d either forgotten or tried to ignore. One of those was about forgiveness. A big subject.
Somewhere in the Bible it says about how many times you’re supposed to forgive—-and the answer is 70 Times 7. Holy Moley!! That’s 490. I’m supposed to forgive someone 490 Times??!!! Arrghkkkkk….I was thinking more like maybe 2 or 3. Okay, maybe 4. But 490? THAT is a VERY tall order. I guess that’s an ideal, and I’ll never get even remotely close to that. And somewhere else it says (loosely translated) not to show up all cheery and dressed up, when you haven’t forgiven the people in your life. Forgive them first, and THEN show up. Hmm, that’s also a good point. And not always easy to do. So it seems like before Thanksgiving comes forgiveness, which actually seems like good advice, —how can you be really grateful, if you have a long list in your heart of people you’re mad at and don’t want to forgive? That is a real philosophical challenge, and a human one. Forgiveness is important, the weight on one’s heart if one doesn’t forgive is heavy. And some things are very hard to forgive. Big betrayals, big hurts, really bad things people have done to you.
I’ve had my share of big things to forgive, and I’m sure you have too. If you live a full life, at some point, people are going to hurt you. And then it’s your decision how you feel about it. One of the biggest in my life was an embezzlement I experienced, it went on for 16 years before I discovered it. It was very cleverly done, and took an enormous toll on me, for a lot of money. Once discovered, I had to sell a beach house I loved, close my art gallery which I really loved, and close down the street outreach program I had for the homeless, which nearly broke my heart (we served 4,000 people a year, and gave them direly needed supplies). I had to do all those things to ‘right the ship’ again financially, and I have a family to support. It was a terrible blow. And because of the statute of limitations, the embezzler was only punished for the last 3 years of the crime, and couldn’t be prosecuted for the other 13 years of embezzled money. It was a terrible experience for me, and everyone affected by it (like the people who worked at the gallery who lost their jobs when I had to close, and the homeless we could no longer serve). The embezzler went to prison, but not for long. How do you deal with something like that? Do you stay mad forever, do you hate someone for what they did? (Someone I knew well, trusted, and saw every day for 16 years, a trusted employee). You can’t stay mad and hate them, or it poisons you. At some point you have to let it go. That was one of my greatest challenges for forgiveness, and I still think about it at times. And there have been others, not embezzlements, but people who have hurt me. And surely people who have hurt you too, maybe even in your family, at work, or among your friends. I had very unkind parents, which is a lot to forgive too. This year, “friends” (a couple) set me up, invited me to a dinner party, and exposed me to 2 journalists (without warning me), one of them apparently famous for writing vicious untrue things about famous people in the press. I never met them at the party, didn’t talk to them, and didn’t know they were there—–until a very nasty false “interview” appeared in the press, which was hurtful. And I was very angry at the ‘friends’ who set me up, and I’m still wrestling with it in my head. (The article was withdrawn, because it was proven that there had never been an interview, and what was said wasn’t true). I probably won’t see the ‘friends’ again, but I don’t want to carry that around with me, so sooner or later, I will have to forgive them, even if I don’t see them again. Forgiveness can be a MAJOR challenge. And 490 times??? Wow!!! You’ve got to be kidding!!! How about 489? or 2?
But it’s a good point, how grateful can you be, if you are lugging a heavy sack of anger around, at the people you haven’t forgiven.
Forgiveness is a work in progress for most of us. Sometimes it comes easily, especially some small slight, but sometimes it’s really hard to forgive. So before I show up for pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, and delicious stuffing (my favorite!!!), I know I’ll have work to do, to forgive the people who have hurt me past and present. And the more I can forgive, the better the pie and the stuffing will taste, and the more joyful the occasion will be, being with the people I love, and not dragging the ‘unforgiven’ people with me like a weight on my heart.
It’s something to think about, and it is a big subject. We all have people we need to forgive, for big and small hurts and ‘crimes’ against us. And when we are finally able to forgive them, and set that burden down, the thanks and the gratitude are that much sweeter…..and I’m VERY grateful that there is no one on my list that I need to forgive 490 times!!!! Once or twice will do me just fine,thanks!!!
Have a wonderful week, full of peace and joy, and happy things. Lots of happy things, and may all your burdens be light!!!