Finding forgiveness: Letting go of the past to build a happier future
By Theresa Blume
Attending my fifth-grade granddaughter’s basketball game this weekend gave me a new perspective on what kids are expected to handle under a watchful audience of family, strangers, and coaches. Seeing her participate in something bigger than herself gave me deep satisfaction. I think she has found a good use for her unlimited energy, athletic ability, and spirit.
My granddaughter had more eyes on her than some as I reflected on the family members who showed up for her game. If only she knew the journeys that had brought us all to this game.
Our group was made up of two ex-husbands, three ex-wives, two grandmothers, two grandfathers, one mother, one father, one stepfather, one stepmother, one sister of the stepmother, and her own older brother.
We came in five different vehicles from four different towns, some from more than two hours away. It was not the Super Bowl or the World Series that we drove for but to an elementary school to see one young lady play basketball on a Saturday afternoon.
Family members greeted one another with a kind greeting and a smile. We sat together without agitation or anxiety and even joked about there not being enough chairs, which her older brother—who knew his way around the school—was quick to remedy. Meanwhile, the younger attendees respectfully gave up their own chairs for the older folks without hesitation.
None of this would have been possible unless at some point in time each of us had reached the decision of forgiving, accepting, and putting the past in its place. Some were able to reach this destination faster while others took many years to accept the mere presence of an ex. A lot of painful memories had flowed through our veins, but healing was finally able to overcome with time, age, and experience.
The death of loved ones, cancers, financial ruin, emotional breakdowns, addictions, and heartbreak that had ravaged our lives were now the building blocks to realizing that life is simply too short to hold the anger and grudges of old times.
As grandchildren come in to the world, they bring hopes of a fresh start and a chance to do it better this time. They neither judge nor care what we did in the past as long as we show up for the basketball games and do not embarrass them too badly.
We want to protect them from our mistakes and make the path smoother for them, but the reality is they will make their own mistakes. Hopefully, our example of forgiveness will help them make better progress. If not from our example, at least they will have the benefit of our combined support to help them get through life’s trials.
I know of families that never forgave and, thus, never healed, passing the pain on to future generations. Despite our mistakes, there is one word that makes it possible to start the healing process: forgiveness. Let our legacies be not war but peace that we leave to future generations, starting within our own families.