I Forgive You

My mother has early on-set dementia, which was mostly caused by years and years of chemical abuse. She has lived in a nursing home now for almost five years. Prior to that, she had at home nursing care for three years. She just turned 71 years old.

It was my mom’s birthday this past Monday. My young kids and I took her to dinner in the upstairs dining room at her care center, and had a nice time. When we got there, she was franticly waiting in the hallway saying that she has been lost in the airport all day. She had her bag all packed to go to Florida, and she said she
just needed help to get to the car. She broke down when she saw us, relieved to see loved ones to help her.

She was very confused, but many times when she is with us some of that extreme confusion dissipates, as things feel more familiar to her. But on days like that, I wonder if her dementia is progressing even more rapidly. Perhaps she has had more mini strokes. We played UNO with the kids and she could not match the colors together, and seemed to have no idea how to play the game. Even though it is a game we had played a thousand times together when I was a kid.

It is those little moments that make me the saddest; When she suddenly has no recognition for very common things. Like how at dinner she looked at Colin and said, “Him…you know…that one”, as she struggled to recall my eight year old’s name.

It is difficult, because I know that eventually she will lose recognition for most everything. One day, she may not recognize me and that terrifies me. It is the fear of one day walking in her room and her blankly staring back at me void of recognition or acknowlegment. Although, A part of me feels that she may know me until the end. My own grandma forgot everyone except her children. It wasn’t consistent recognition, but her memory would recall them the most.

On the way home the song “Forgiveness” by Matthew West came on the radio. It is a song that has helped me heal and find peace with the painful moments in my past with my mom.

Forgiveness is difficult, especially if the one who did the hurting never seeks forgiveness. And some people get stuck in their resentment, because they feel that recognition and a sincere apology are necessary in order to forgive the other. What they are unable to see, is that forgiveness doesn’t justify the wrong done or get the other “off the hook”. It sets themselves free instead, from the anger and toxic resentment. Without all that negative weight, the person who forgives, can finally begin the process of moving on and healing.

Forgiveness is key in any Christian’s life. Jesus was ALL about teaching to forgive others, no matter what. I always think of the passage from Matthew 18:21-22:

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

Forgiveness was so important to our Lord, that he included it also in His prayer,
“…forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”

It all comes down to His golden rule of “treating others the way you want to be treated”. We must try to put ourselves in another’s shoes. How would it feel or make a difference to be forgiven? How would it feel to a person who knows he or she doesn’t deserve it?

There was one moment since my mom has been in the nursing home during these past 5 years, where she seemed to be seeking forgiveness. I was telling about a friend going through a hard time, and she looked up at me and said with emotion, “I am sorry, Mary, that I could not be the mother you needed me to be”. I choked up and said, “It’s OK mom, we have now and that is enough right now.”

A part of me wanted to go in to a tirade of, “It’s about time!” And proceed to tell her of all her bad and hurtful choices. But, a bigger part of me thought and felt “Why? She knows, deep down, the hurts she has caused. Why rub her nose in it? Especially when she has lost it all anyway?” Instead, I took a shaky deep breath and asked God to help me to take the much higher road…and forgive.

I would be lying if I said it isn’t a daily battle to forgive. There are moments that are almost to painful to even talk about, and it is torture to have to relive that pain in my heart again and again as I remember. But It is then I remember that no matter how deep the pain, God can heal it. I am not alone, and never have been. Today, and tomorrow are new days, and the pain has helped me grow, and has given me much strength.

I found a post that clarified this well for me yesterday from this blog post:
http://liturgicalyear.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/seventy-times-seven-2/:

“I would make that decision to forgive and pray for healing – sometimes over and over. Out of nowhere it would rear its ugly head again, and I would need to do it all over. I found that the more I surrendered the hurt to God, the more I was likely to come to peace with it. Really that’s what I wanted – freedom from the hurt. But before I could experience that freedom, I had to let go and release the anger and unforgiveness so that I could make room for God.”

And so, for the 100th and something time…”I forgive you, mom….for all of it. I only have hundreds more times to go, but I know He will be there to help.

It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those
who don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused
Is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…

Forgiveness
Forgiveness

It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying
‘Set It Free’

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what
it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see
what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what
You gave to me
Forgiveness, Forgiveness

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