I have nine nieces and nephews through the marriages of my three sisters. As of last Saturday, five of them are married. Niece Emily married Connor-the first opportunity I’ve had to be present as an uncle.
The word blossom was used often by the minister and others who voiced words of blessing and prayers over Emily and Connor. Surveying our family, those there and those elsewhere, I like to think the blossoming of love in our family has already happened. What continues to happen is the pollination of love.
Their parent’s love blossomed over 25 years ago. The result of that love is more than a fuller flower. It is a field of flowers. It is love multiplying. Some of those flowers may be still little buds waiting to blossom into marriage. Yet they get to experience the love from all the other flowers in the family field.
The view from this bachelor’s flower in the field is unlike the rest of the family’s. Like any other unmarried person, I’m tempted to believe the whispered lie that I haven’t found love yet. To that I say, lift up your eyes. There’s love all around. The widowed great grandmother and the yet-to-be-married have love.
In their maids of honor speech, Emily’s two sisters joked the three have become two. They also said they welcomed Connor as a brother. They haven’t lost love; they’ve gained love. They aren’t without love; they have received more love.
I’ve read a few books on the subject of forgiveness. None of them match the one I just finished.
Alongside her exceptional writing, Leslie Fields makes this subject approachable through transparency and relatability. She doesn’t exploit or overstate. She tells her’s and other’s stories while paralleling them with familiar biblical ones. And although she’s addressing her journey to forgive her father, little of the biblical stories share the same context. The common need is becoming forgivers to the degree we have been forgiven.
The application and “what do I do with this” additional work by Dr. Hubbard makes this more than a well-told story. You have tools to do your forgiveness work. Outcomes or successes aren’t guaranteed, but you have what you need.
Here are seven examples of these ladies’ excellent work:
You can’t grow up and be full adults until you can forgive your parents.
We are all Jonahs who, in our unforgiveness, question whether we can or want to do the work of building the bridge of forgiveness that gives us the grace to see both good and bad in the one who has wronged us.
No other religious faith claims that everything you’ve done wrong can be utterly covered and forgiven by another, by God himself.
Sharing and crying with another is much more effective in moving us toward healing than all the crying done alone in our rooms. Talk therapy brings healing and has a positive impact on our brain chemistry.
Boundaries are not steel doors slammed in a person’s face, but rather, loving and firm ways of saying no, not now, not here. Setting boundaries honors both people involved by not allowing either one to dishonor the other or the relationship through unacceptable words or actions.
We can choose to reclaim our past for good-instead of replaying the same story over and over expecting something to change in the unending repetition. We do this by allowing ourselves to grieve, to mourn, to lament, to remember, to release, to revive, to live on, so that all may be well with our souls.
We have made forgiveness too private, too small, and too hard. It is not a feeling we have to conjure up; it is an attitude of humility and love that seeks the good of the other, apart from worth or deserving. It is the living out of a daily decision to extend to others what God has extended first to us.