Sunday, October 2, 2011

Had an interesting conversation with my dad tonight.

He was on his way home from visiting my grandma. He goes over pretty much every Sunday after church. He was telling me about this latest visit. My grandma doesn't have any major health problems yet. She lives on her own, in the house that she's lived in since 1956. So far, her living on her own has been ok. I have an aunt that live somewhat nearby, as well as some other family members. And of course my dad, and my uncle go over almost every Sunday. Anyway, my grandma is notoriously cantankerous. She's been like this pretty much her entire life. And right now the difficulty is trying to convince her that she really shouldn't be living on her own anymore.

We got to talking a little bit about why the heck grandma is the way she is. I know we all come to this earth with our own quirky personalities, but grandma was a lot more than quirky. My dad talked about what he remembers about her growing up, and about her parents. She had some issues with her father, and by the time my dad was born and able to remember things great grandma and great grandpa were no longer sleeping in the same room. While we don't know exactly why grandma was/is always so angry, she did have a hard time forgiving and letting go. There is a rumor that great grandpa had an affair, and perhaps that is why, amongst other things, that she just couldn't forgive her father. In fact, he has been dead since I was a little girl, about 30 years ago, and only in the last 6 has she said that she has forgiven her father.

All this has gotten me thinking. As a little girl, I looked just like my grandma when she was a little girl. In fact, my grandpa showed my mom a picture of my grandma at the same age I happened to be at the time (maybe 5 or 6) and when asked who it was, my mom said it was me, but knowing it wasn't since it was a black and white picture.

And now as an adult, and as a teenager, I have had a heck of a time forgiving. I cannot say why (perhaps this was a learned behavior, probably from my mother who had somewhat the same issue) I have this problem, I just do. And it causes me problems all the time. Because one of the biggest things in marriage is learning how to forgive the other person, pretty much daily. But not just that, there are other things that I need to forgive. Granted, forgiveness does take time and effort, but I really struggle. And seeing and hearing about what my grandma is now, kind of scares me. I don't want to become like her. I want to be able to forgive easier, and not turn out holding onto grudges for so long I've become angry at the world. And I really don't want to take more than 30 years to forgive someone. I don't want to be like her.

My grandma was a good grandma. Came to our games, bought us Christmas gifts, came to birthdays and baptisms and blessings. Was there for graduations, band competitions and anything else we did. Babysat us when we were kids, always had froot loops for us for breakfast. I never felt like my grandma didn't love me or any of my cousins. She did have her favorite that could do no wrong (they were nightmares), but overall, she was a good grandma. But she probably could have done better, been happier, if she could have learned to forgive.

I've been examining my own soul lately, about why I am having a hard time forgiving, specifically, my husbands father. He was truly terrible. The emails, personal attacks on my old blog, how he treated everyone, was terrible. I cut off all communication to him over two years ago. It was the best thing I could have done. Since that time, he has apparently made a lot of changes, and is active in his ward (as active as he can be since he is in a lot of pain due to neuropathy throughout most of his body) and has also been through the temple. I knew I was progressing in the forgiveness process when I saw pictures of them at the temple and I didn't feel that anger that used to instantly come over me when it came to his dad.

I think the hard part for me was that phrase that you hear so much 'forgive and forget'. I mean, NO WAY was I going to forget what this man did to me and my family. No freaking way. And if forgetting was part of forgiving, then I guess I would never do it. I believe it is dangerous, especially when abuse of any sort is concerned, to forget. I will never allow myself to be in that situation again, as a protection for myself and my family. But a few weeks ago I read this story on CNN, that gave me a new perspective on the whole forgiveness thing. (this was the fourth part in the story, there are links to the first three on the story) The daughter witnessed a man shooting her mother and killing her. And she had this to say about forgiveness:
"Sometimes, when people forgive, they feel like they're saying what that person did was OK. That's not what it's doing. When you forgive, you're letting go of the pain and giving it to God."
That was my problem. I didn't want to forgive because of that exact reason. I don't know why I thought that way, I just did. And that quote keeps going through my head, and I've been thinking a lot about the work I have to do to be able to completely forgive. Giving it to God seems so easy. But it is dang hard sometimes. I hope that with practice I'll get better at the process. I mean if this woman can forgive, why the heck can't I?

So, new personal goals are to really work on forgiving. I don't want to carry around extra emotional weight that I don't need. I read somewhere someone's visual on how to give it all to're getting all of it in a ball, and tossing it to God, but he doesn't toss it back. I am going to do this. I have to. Cause I am not going to be like my grandma. At least in this I won't. Although I may end up with her mostly salt and a little pepper hair....seems to run in the family.

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