“Drooping Tulips and Forgiveness”

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.

* * *

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:

lake opeka

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.


9 Replies to ““Drooping Tulips and Forgiveness””

  1. Fantastic perspective on what it means to forgive. Too often we are told we need to forgive. But maybe it’s okay (and necessary) to spend some time being angry. Very interesting perspective.

    Thanks again for connecting! Best of luck!

    1. It was key for me, Dustin. I will do a follow up in the future, sharing a bit of the process over the next months. Thanks for visiting. Nice meeting you at Shawn Smucker’s blog.

  2. An amazing amount of truth packed into few words! The hidden “jewel” in an offense may be the deep journey through the pain to honesty, forgiveness and then freedom. Thank you

  3. Dear Carol … yes, forgiveness is a journey. It’s seldom a 1-2-3 step kind of thing. Weird bends come on that road, but thankfully, God guides us through each turn.

    And in the end, it’s we ourselves who get freed up.

    God is so good! I love how you’re sharing your life stories with your family … and us.


    1. Rebecca, in the comment after you, wondered whether we are all working off the same definition of forgiveness. Then I came back here and read your post and I think what you say about “freedom” is spot on. It doesn’t happen by loudly declaring “I choose to forgive” without doing our own work along the way. And I think it is rarely done alone – it takes Godly companion-ing in the form of Godly friends and often a Godly counselor.

  4. Now that is profound Much is written about forgiveness– so much that I am back to the basic question of what forgiveness really is. I wonder if everyone isn’t working from a different definition sometimes….

    1. I have been thinking about this all day off and on. then i went back and read the comment above this one. read my response there…I think freedom has a lot to do with it.At least, when I am thinking about forgiveness, this is where i land. More thoughts for a future post on forgiveness….I welcome your thoughts here…thanks for responding.

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