birthing forgiveness

Posted on Monday, June 17, 2013

Before the year ends, I will be a mother.  Before the year ends, I will have already made mistakes and, though I may not know it, will have begun to plant seeds of hurt on my innocent newborn.  As mothers and fathers, we all love, and yet, no matter how great this love, or how great the effort, we will harm our children throughout their lives.  It is an inevitable truth.


I think of my mother, her golden straw hair lighting the day – she was my hero as a little girl.  I remember, curled up in her arms one rainy afternoon, I told her, “I don’t ever want to live apart from you.”  She smiled, perhaps holding those words as tightly as she held me, knowing just as the rain would soon pass, my wishes would vanish over the years.  As I grew, I bravely packed my bags for college, lived abroad and settled miles away from my mother.  Laced inside those years of growth, I still loved my mother, but my disappointment toward her found its way somehow in each delicate stitch.  How had I formed such resentment against my mother, my hero?


And I think of my father, my poor father who was much easier to blame.  He masked his own pain beneath pools of liquid fire, hoping to drink himself into flames.  I held such strong dislike even toward the beautiful man who cried over his love for me – that it took his final tear to dry up with his short life for me to finally find forgiveness.


I came to learn that forgiveness takes many shapes and colors, comes to us at certain times and forms.


I think of all of this as I read Patrick Miller’s The Way of Forgiveness: Letting Go, Easing Stress and Building StrengthMiller openly reveals the personal process he faced in forgiving his parents for their wrong doings.  But it is not just parents.  It can be siblings, a spouse, a friend, ourselves.  He beautifully claims, “When you are trying to decide whether someone deserves your forgiveness, you are asking the wrong question. Ask instead whether you deserve to become someone who consistently forgives.”  You see, it is not about that person.  We hold the power inside ourselves.  Let us not live a life of a martyr.


Miller tells us:

In a time when the recollection and classifying of abuses has become a virtual industry, we have to be careful about proclaiming the specialness of our wounds. The end point of remembering exactly how we have been damaged is to realize that we all share the deep common wound of humanity: being born into vulnerable bodies in a mysterious and dangerous world. Our particular wounds have a lot to do with who we are, and that history is important to understand. But learning to forgive all our wounds, regardless of their severity, is what will speed us toward our potential. An unimagined creativity blossoms in every space within the heart from which pain has been released.


Before the year ends, I will have the opportunity to start teaching my newborn child to proclaim his or her unique wounds, or his or her specialness.  I choose to encourage pure specialness.  Each of us is broken and each of us spends our lives wishing to carefully build ourselves back to balance. From the moment we leave the sea of the womb, we enter a new, wild world.  We can choose to see its coldness, darkness and discomfort, but we can also choose to embrace its warmth, love and light.  As Miller encourages us in his book, may we unite with humanity in our vulnerability and fragility – and may we also bloom from each pardon we grant on those that have done us wrong.


feature image, Magenta Butterfly, provided by Emma Plunkett


  1. This gave me chills and tears in my eyes. Very powerful.

    • Rebekah,

      Thanks so much for your comment and for reading the post. I find this is a topic each of us, in our own experiences, can relate to in some way or another.

  2. That was so moving, you are going to be a wonderful mother. Congratulations!

    • Thanks, Becca. I’m sure you will have lots of tips for me, being a mother yourself!

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