Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Now For Something Completely Different

It's been awhile since I made a blogging post that wasn't about my current health issues. I just read my friend Cynthia's entry and it got me thinking about forgiveness. When I was younger it angered me when people told me I needed to forgive others. Being raised with Christian values, this was a great source of conflict. I always felt this righteous indignation and for some reason that seemed to give me strength. Then I clung to the belief that forgiveness would only be granted if I received a request for it (even then I had difficulty granting it.) I began reading books and watching therapists on television who spoke about forgiveness. I began to realize that there were times I needed to ask forgiveness and never had. Oprah talked about how forgiveness was actually good for yourself. I began to see the other side of the coin. I began to think of things that had been done to me. One of the best examples was a childhood friend I used to have. I called her when I had cancer. She had a baby girl about a year younger than my son and I asked if she could watch my son some of the times I went for radiation treatment, maybe once a week. When I began to explain to her about the cancer she cut me off and abruptly said "I have to go. This is too depressing and I can't be your friend or help you." I heard her hang up. I sat there in shock and disbelief. I had known her at time for about twelve years. I carried this hurt for the next twenty something years. I was actually afraid to ask other friends for help for fear I would lose their friendship too. About twenty years later she called out of the blue acting like this had never happened. Over time, although it was never asked for, I forgave her. About five years after that she stopped speaking to me again one day, no explanation was ever given but I heard that she was upset with me because of a comment I made regarding her daughter's wedding we had attended. It was a buffet and our table was never called. Other tables were going up for seconds and I went over to the table and told them our table had been skipped. By that time there was nothing left but salad. It was very disappointing. Looking back, I have to laugh at this. I realize now that she has major problems that have nothing to do with me. I forgive her again, not for her (because she doesn't care) but for myself. We are all flawed individuals. Myself included. In life, it's just so ridiculous for someone to end a friendship over such petty things. REAL friendships endure those things. I think more than anything, I have realized that we use the word "friend" too often to describe an acquaintance. If someone hasn't been in your home in years (when they have been everywhere else they have wanted to be), is never avaialable when you need them, or never makes time to stay in touch they're just not really a good friend. In life we have so few really good friends. Ironically, so often the friends who are never there are the very ones who tell you over and over that they will be. I have learned not to count on people. In the end, I count on myself and if anyone else is there for me it's a bonus.

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

When you start thinking about forgiveness, it just draws you in deeper and deeper. It also makes you think about more issues and ideas. I also believe that forgiveness does a lot more for the person who forgives than it does for the forgiven. It's a bit of a paradox, isn't it.