Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Holiday seasons are always hard times with grief. Mother's Day can be too much to bear for some, but most enter what is almost a tangible valley for the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

One of the keys to surviving such periods is forgiveness. Forgiving yourself and your spouse. It is hard because emotions drive one deeper into being hard and because every event brings with it the echoes of every prior event. History compounds itself into a terrible weight.

But, forgiveness also offers more. It is a way past recrimination and the past. It is a tool to avoid the crushing pain of the present. Forgiveness is a guide to the future we wish to create in the light of what is best in the past.

Combined with the Jewish version of the Golden Rule ("Be Kind"), forgiveness is the star of hope in every season. We draw close to what we can become with each other in a marriage and others who are dear to us in our grief by finding kindness and forgiveness in each step of the day. It has helped me survive the losses of the past and I think that forgiveness and kindness is much of what has made my present something I am grateful for and my life with my family such a source of joy.

May the world be kind with you this season, and may you find forgiveness as you need it, both in giving and receiving, with others and with yourself.


Carol said...

You have given me much food for thought as I read several of your entries about loss of loved ones in your life. I face a critical juntion in my marriage where I'm losing my children to adulthood and marriage and living half a globe away. I read your comments about forging new goals and deciding to hold tightly to those loved ones left with my life and losses in mind. It seems like what I must do to survive this transitional time in my life and reconnect with my husband in new ways. We need to make new goals and strengthen our resolve. Thanks for the insight.

Lisa M. said...

How does one find forgiveness for unspeakable things. For crimes unconceivable and for the continued pain and anguish that comes from the ramifications of those crimes? What is it that drives mankind to do things that are beyond comprehension.

I agree, forgiveness is a key. I just have lost my keyring.

I have tried, I swear to God I have tried. I have prayed for forgiveness for the hatred I feel. For the ability to understand, and if not for that, then for the calming peace that comes with forgiveness. And yet, the anger just seeps up from no where.

Its exhausting. There is no end to it. It looms, it bores away at any happiness that is found. It grows and enflames and then subsides for a time, only to come back with a vengance.

Sometimes I think I have a handle on it, other times I think handling it is a complete illusion.

Its bitter and I can't flourish while it is within me.

I try to not entertain it. I try to turn away from it. But it is a constant. Perhaps it is a habit. How could I possibly live with out my old friend, "hate"?

Stephen said...


We used to joke that when my grandmother died they had to put a stake through her and bury her at a cross roads to keep her from coming back, she was that evil.

When my dad broke his back and was told he would never walk again, she would beat him every day until the broomstick was reduced to splinters, then send my uncle out for another one. He would hide after one trip. He still has issues, though he was just a terrorized kid, and is still the little brother that my dad loves.

My dad, amazingly, was able to find peace. The peace that passeth beyond understanding, I saw it explained as once. He found it in joining the Church and in the gospel and it has really helped me.

My wife had far less to deal with, though she wrote about her issues here:

It helps that God will repay, will even all accounts. The person we are really forgiving is ourself, we can let God take care of the rest.

And there are unspeakable things. Having been on the board of a child advocacy center (which is the name they all have -- but what you are doing is providing a less abusive place for the police to interview children who have been sexually abused), on the supervisory board of a parents anonymous (unlike AA and similar groups such as OA, all PAs are run by people who are not abusers and who do not participate in the groups) and on the board of a rape crisis center, I'm aware of just how evil some people can be.

I'd suggest that you participate in the appropriate group for survivors. That helps, it helps a lot, even ten or twenty years after the event. A rape crisis center spends a surprising amount of time on people who finally call ten or twenty years after the event -- and they often receive what they need to help them in healing.

Also, seek to forgive yourself. Don't worry about the other person right now. God is not mocked, and it isn't your duty to save them from the eternal punishment that waits on them. But seek to forgive yourself, the person who deserves forgiveness since you did nothing wrong. For many, many people, the journey starts with forgiving themselves and realizing, in their hearts, that they are valuable, worthwhile and worthy of the love of God.

This, of course, is not mental health counseling, just my religious opinion. But you are worthy of love, acceptance and joy.

lochan said...

I always feel humbled when I read your posts. This post is really beautiful as were your comments to Lisa.

I hope you have peace this holiday season.

Stephen said...


I found:

The Role of Forgiveness in Healing from Abuse

Address given at a BYU conference

October 23, 2002

Elaine Walton, Ph.D.

Healing from abuse is a long-term, sometimes a life-long process. Many of us are attempting to live as model Church members while hiding ugly scars. I suspect that some of you here today have scars. Or perhaps you are eager to help a loved one who is in need of healing. In any case, I am going to speak to you as though you were all victims of abuse.

Abuse is far more prevalent than we used to think. I could spend most of my time this afternoon just relating incidents of abuse that have been shared with me by my clients. I could tell you horror stories that might seem unbelievable—incidents of brutal rape, incest, or ritual and satanic abuse. But I’m not going to tell you those horror stories; I’ll spare you the ugly details, even though I am tempted to share them. I am tempted because I want to validate the pain that has been inflicted on anyone within the sound of my voice. I want the world to know how horrible it was, how unfair it was, and how deserving victims are of special care.

Worth visiting

Lisa M. said...

Thank you.

I have read and re-read the suggested article. Thank you for finding it for me.

There are so many faces to abuse.

Have you ever read the book "Secrets" It is I think by the Yorgonson Brother's(don't quote me, but I think so)

It's a novel, and one written quite simply, but OH the truths that lay in those pages. Personally I think it should be required reading, by anyone who is put in as Bishop.

Oh If Only I could run the church. *rolling eyes at myself* (hope you sense the sarcasm)

Someday I will have to write about my experiences. So far, I haven't been able to do so, save for about Ethan.

Thank you for saying I was deserved love, acceptance and joy.

It has been a long time coming, but I am thinking you might just be right.

I have noticed that I put my *issues* on a back burner, admist the chaos of life.

Thanks again for this safe haven. Your words of encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Stephen, your comments to Lisa were like a lightbulb for me. Thank you. When you talked about the need to forgive yourself amidst the things that have been done to you. I have been struggling with an issue of forgiveness recently and really not sure of *how* to do it, to let it go and find peace. As I read your comment, it occurred to me that I do need to forgive myself. I have allowed what happened to heap guilt on an already tragic situation. I let it erode my sense of worth and of deserving. Because of the weight of the things I have lost that I have been carrying around, I didn't realize how I needed to forgive myself as well. As always Stephen, thank you.

annegb said...

Lisa, Cheiko Okazaki gave a very good talk on surviving abuse. I think it's in her book "Disciples."

As I recall, her focus is on the love of Christ as opposed to forgiveness. I thought it was wonderful.

My hardest thing is forgiving myself and allowing myself to enjoy life. I just cut this thing out of Oprah's magazine that says something like, "when you die, the Gods will hold you responsible for the pleasures in life that you denied yourself."

For now, I would say, if you can't forgive (and I find it damn hard myself), detach. And be very good to yourself.

Stephen, I'll be checking in occasionally from the library this season. I know it's hard. God bless.

PS, I'm going to save your quote about your grandma to spring on someone someday. :)

Lisa M. said...


You're awsome. Thank you for being who you are.


I miss you. Thanks for the reference, I will look it up.(Desciples)


Thank you.