You’re Not the Only One I Have to Forgive

I was sitting in the middle of my bed when I felt the
break.  It was a knowing that shot up
from deep inside and broke into my
current thoughts like an earthquake, and then almost as suddenly it vanished.  The break was that I knew it was
my fault. I cried at this; actually, writhed in pain would be a better
description albeit a bit dramatic. But it’s true, I did writhe in pain for a
few moments at the realization that I had played a part in my own demise;  that I had been playing games with myself
without knowing what I was up to.

So here’s what happened:
When parents gets divorced, and handle it badly, it is like walking up
to their kids with a shiny silver platter, taking off the lid, and saying, “here
honey have some rejection, and abandonment, and low self-esteem, and trust
issues, and insecurity, and don’t forget the low self-worth! Make sure you tuck
them nice and snug into your backpack. Okay, now off you go. Good luck out
there!”  Sheesh.  Sad, but true. The problem that I was
currently facing was not that I had suddenly come to terms with the divorce and
realized I had to forgive my parents.  I
had been down that road already, many times, and have forgiven them.

The problem that I was facing was me and my game playing.  I was talking out of both sides of my
mouth.  For years I have agreed with the
experts, and said many times myself, that when you are a kid growing up in your
parents’ house, you are the recipient, for better or worse, of how you are
raised. Adults who condemn probably grew up criticized. Adults who live with
guilt probably grew up with shame. Adults who like themselves probably grew up
with approval. Our parents wire our hard wiring. We are the way we are because
of how we were raised.

But, when we become adults ourselves, it is our job to
re-wire our hard wiring. I knew this, too. And this is where the game playing
was in full force. On one hand I acknowledged that I couldn’t use the backpack
they  handed me as an excuse to
fail.  I knew I could not say, “I cannot
achieve because I am not good enough; that’s what it says in my backpack.” On
the other hand, I was doing exactly that.
My mouth was saying, “it is my responsibility to have a good life,” and
my actions were showing, “I’m not good enough to be successful in friendships, to make my dreams a reality, to be a good wife or mom, etc.,  in order to
have a good life.” My back pack was so heavy and so deep rooted that it colored
every aspect of my life with a thick blanket.
It blinded me. I couldn’t see straight.

That’s when I found myself in the middle of my bed. There
was a break, a knowing that washed over me like a cold, wet rag. It was my
fault I wasn’t further along in life and I had to forgive myself for that. For sure, my
parents set me out in life on a tilted landscape. As an adult, I tried my best
to right my horizon but until I did, I made decisions, bad decisions, based on
the notes in my backpack. This is what I had to forgive myself for. I had to
forgive myself for being human, for having needs and looking in all the wrong
places to have them met. I had to forgive myself for believing the lie that I’m
not good enough, and for holding myself back from my dreams because of this
lie. I had to forgive myself for carrying around the backpack and letting the
madness go on for so many years. I should have known better, I should have known what was going on; but I didn’t, so I had to forgive myself for that.  I had
to forgive myself for looking horizontally, at other people with their own
backpacks, to rescue me and fix me rather than looking vertically to the only
being that could truly meet my needs and heal me and give me self-worth; the
Creator himself, the Triune God.

That’s when the immediate healing came. It was like the
bones glued themselves back together. My horizon was now straight. I wasn’t
walking sideways anymore like the girl in the V8 commercial. I had my portion
of veggies in the form of forgiveness of myself. I sent my backpack to the
Smithsonian but I haven’t heard back from them yet.  –Tara

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Are You “Hoping” or “Wishing” for a Better Year?

To be completely honest, I had to pull out the
dictionary.  Like clockwork, during the
last week of 2009 and in the first few days of 2010, I heard the familiar rants
from people around me:  “I hope this year
is better than last year,” or, “hopefully this will be the year,” or, “I hope
that this is the last year that I say, ‘maybe next year.’”  This is when I decided to consult Mr. Webster
because I’m usually one of these people. 
If I hope for change, but nothing ever changes, then why bother?  But more importantly, what does hope mean?
Have I been using the word out of context? Was I really wishing instead of
hoping?

So, on page 358 of my 1997 version, the definition of hope
is this: 1. Trust, reliance; 2. Desire accompanied by expectation of
fulfillment.  I like that.  “Desire” accompanied by “expectation” of
“fulfillment.” However, it also bugs me. There are three more words to examine
and none of them take me to the root of what I’m looking for.  We all have desire: “a strong wish, longing,
craving.” We desire  a better job, we
desire a better financial situation, we desire to be married or to have a
better marriage than the one we have.  We
all expect things: “to consider reasonable, due, or necessary, to consider to
be obliged.” We expect our boss  to
notice our hard work, we expect our spouse to love us, we expect our friends to
be loyal. And, we all want fulfillment (“to put into effect, to bring to an
end”)of our desires and expectations.  This
all sounds reasonable enough but something is missing. In fact, without this
one ingredient, the whole meaning of the word hope falls flat on its face.

HOPE = Desire + expectation + fulfillment

This is actually the first year I can remember that I was so
excited to turn the page on the calendar. I could not WAIT for the new year to
come. Good riddance to 2009 and hello to a great and wonderful 2010.  But I 
had to ask myself why my confidence was so high? What assurance did I
have that the new year would be different? There must be something more to this
formula for hope. There must be something that comes before, or in between, or
on top of this recipe.  Then it hits me:
Action. Something tangible and concrete must be in place in order for me to have
the audacity to think I should be obliged in my desire to bring the unruly
situation of my life to an end. That something must be action.

DESIRE:   strong wish, longing, craving

EXPECT:  to consider reasonable, due, or necessary, to
consider to be obliged

FULFILL:  to put into effect, to bring to an end

ACTION:  1. The manner or method of performing; 2. The
accomplishment of a thing over a period of time, or in stages, with the
possibility of repetition. (Translation: stop eating junk food and start
regular exercise so that your desire to lose weight can actually happen)

 To make sure I am on track, I quickly check for a current explanation
of the word “hope” to see if it proves my theory; and it does: “A
person or thing in which expectations are centered (the medicine was her last
hope); the feeling that what is wanted can be had.

In order to have
hope, in the true sense of the word, there must be a center, a foundation, an
action that has taken place, in order for us to reasonably expect a certain
outcome.
  This is where I have fallen short year after
year. I hope for change when no action has taken place and therefore my
expectations are not met and I keep repeating the same cycle year after
year…I hope next year is better.

I was doing editing work in my home office under the title
of Write With Grace. This was fine
for a while.  I enjoyed it, I had  certain skill sets that worked for certain
types of writing, but after 2 years I was second guessing what I was
doing.  I wasn’t sure that being a
solo-independent-book-editor was where I should be. At the end of 2008 I was
feeling antsy and was “hoping” for a better 2009.  Hoping, but not taking any action; so in
reality, it was just a wish.

WISH:  to have a desire.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. A wish is nothing more
than a desire. I desired to change my circumstances, I desired to find my
passion, I desired to know my place on this earth, I desired to find my
niche’.  I wished for all these
things.  But at the end of 2008, I took
no action.  My hope for a better year was
nothing more than a wish.

By the middle of 2009 I was absolutely miserable. I have to
say that 2009 is one of the worst years on record for me.  It is awful to feel so lost and confused,
not  knowing what you should be doing.
However, 2009 is also one of the best years on record for me because this was
the year I took action.  This was the
year I turned my wish into hope.  This
was the year I actually wanted to celebrate the start of a new year because  now I had real hope that 2010 would be great.

During 2009 I took many actions that I had never taken up to
this point.  I set much needed boundaries
with people close to me.  I stopped
participating in ‘the dance’ with my husband that kept us in perpetual circles
of going nowhere but round and round. I forgave myself and those around me for
being selfish. I prayed to God that He would use me in His purpose and
will.  I painfully unpacked the baggage I
had been lugging around from things like divorce, affairs, rejection, etc., and
put it out on the table, in the broad daylight, to examine, deal with, talk
about, cry about, and get rid of. In short, I untangled and unplugged my
hard-wiring of all the hurts and tragedies, and slowly, methodically, and
diligently began to plug the wires in to their proper place.  I got rid of my hot buttons and began to see
the world through the lens of grace.

This was not easy, but it was worth it.  Because 
now I have Hope.  I can now expect my desire for a
better life  to be fulfilled because I took concrete, tangible action that supports my desires and expectations.  Remember the cliché’ “what you put in is what
you get out?” I put in a lot of hard work. 
What I will “get out” is growth, productivity, purpose, passion, and a
better life. This is hope. And I am so excited!   -Tara