Second in a series of “No Quick, Easy Answers” for my Memoir. (read about “Remembering” HERE) While the story will be more complete for my family, I share here what I learned about drooping tulips and forgiveness.
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Recently an acquaintance and I were talking about forgiveness. She had received unsettling news. Changes for her she didn’t want and didn’t see coming. There are reasons, she says. She understands (even I understand how it probably happened) and she is forgiving. I believe her. And then I tell her a story:
It’s a cold dreary day in April and even the tulips at home are drooping this morning. I feel like the tulips.”
I wrote the this to a friend and “brother” a couple weeks after a particularly difficult life experience that felt like betrayal. In a dysfunctional way it was. There was “blame” on both sides. And it never came to a nice tidy resolution.
“I guess I’d better forgive,” I continued. (Remember this was two weeks after a life-changing decision thrust upon us – one we had no part in making and no warning of its coming.”)
My wise friend responded, “Don’t rush to quick forgiveness without first dealing with the pain and anger. And when you think you have forgiven and there is more anger, it doesn’t mean you haven’t forgiven. It means you have more to forgive.”
It was what I needed to hear. I needed to own the hurt and anger. If I hadn’t, it would have gone down deep inside me and I suspect I would still have it down there somewhere, affecting me and others in ways I could not understand.
And when I did forgive and then had to forgive some more, I didn’t spend time in needless shame, wondering if my forgiveness was real the first time.
I thank God for that dear friend. I have never forgotten his advice.
And I have passed it on to others.
PS: My friend told me later it was helpful for you to hear this story. Maybe it will mean something to you too.