A couple of weeks ago, I began to feel a deep uprooting in my heart. I've been struggling with forgiveness.
The process of writing my book and delving into my experience inside the abusive fundamentalist church of my childhood was an important step for me in understanding what happened and why.
But also, it took a toll on me. For reasons I don't exactly understand, I think it may have helped trigger the depression I've been battling for the last 10 months.
Something about this quote resonated with me:
Pardon one another so that later on you will not remember the injury. The recollection of an injury…adds to our anger…It is a rusty arrow and poison for the soul. It puts all virtue to flight. –St. Francis of Paola
Last week I retreated to my favorite, quiet spot. I knew in my heart that it was time to let go. I knelt before the Blessed Sacrament and let the immensity of silence seep into my being.
Nothing big happened, just a gentle loosening. Perhaps I unclenched my fists a little bit. I have felt so scared. For so long, I haven't felt like surrender was possible.
But there, kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, I felt safe. Like maybe, just maybe I could ease up on the death-grip a little, let myself settle into the eternal silence.
And then I went home and back to my duties. I washed dishes. I fed my children. Softly, it came to me:
Elizabeth, it's time to give up your rage.
I didn't even know I had rage. But rage is anger coupled with helplessness. And yes, I have felt that.
I called my mother.
I told her about the depression, the crushing sense of failure and helplessness.
My mother listened to me weep and then she put her love into action. She helped me accept my depression, babysat my children, helped reorganize my home.
Looking back, I can see how she has loved me with quiet kindness through every step of this dark season in my life–even before I confided in her. By softening my heart and allowing her to help me, I have seen the fruits of her genuine faith: love, gentleness, joy.
My mother has become and is becoming my friend. It is nothing short of the mercy of God. It is an inexplicable, mind-boggling kind of grace.
How is it that pain and beauty are inextricably bound up together? Why must we deeply drink of a mixed cup: sorrow mingled with joy?
I think I'm finally ready to accept that there's never going to be a nice, tidy happy resolution. Maybe I'll always struggle with going to church. I still can't speak of some of the things I experienced and maybe I'll always battle with depression.
But one thing I know: I'm ready to forgive.
Or, at least, I'm ready to move toward that place. I'm ready to release the death-grip.
And one day when I seek my own children's forgiveness, I'm hoping that bridge of forgiveness will still be standing.
Because today I crossed it.
And tomorrow I'll cross it again. And again…