If Oprah were here, she’d be saying, “This is big. Oh. Big. Big.”
I’ve got a few sessions left to do with a counselor to finish up my Practicum course, and today I had a breakthrough. And, like most meaningful breakthroughs, it started with a breakdown… or at least the talk of breakdown.
You see, yesterday I went to the movies with friends after church. (P.S. Leo DiCaprio deserves the Oscar this year!) Marc took the kids home on his own and got an almost $400 speeding ticket on his way on a road where we have seen cops stopping people every Sunday for a month. I even pointed out the cop to Marc that morning on the way to church.
So today I took this expensive little incident into my counselor, because it is indicative of one of my biggest problems. Not to get into all of the juicy details, but I have a big problem forgiving. I have a great memory and a quick wit and I will often bring up things that Marc has done wrong years ago when something remotely reminds me of it. Or, worse for me, I often feel the hurt of something that has happened years after the fact. And I knew this was going to be one of those things, unless I could get it into my head to just get. over. the. fact. that Marc got that huge speeding ticket.
I was starting to brood about it. I woke up this morning picturing in my head the moment of the cop pulling him over. I was mad at Marc. I was mad at me because if I had been there I would have reminded him (like I do all the time) to slow down as we enter the city. I was mad at Marc for needing to be reminded by me every time.
So I spent the hour with my counselor today talking all of this through, and in the middle of it I told her about the question Marc asked me before bed last night: “Are you mad at me getting the speeding ticket or are you mad at something about me?” I don’t remember how I answered last night. But today in the session I realized that what I was really mad at was that part of Marc that prevents him from multi-tasking, that part of him that is so easily distracted that he forgets that he’s steeping himself a cup of tea and never notices things like changing speed zones, that part of him that got him the ticket. Not the ticket itself.
And then I realized that the reason I always bring up mistakes like this is not just because I don’t quite forgive him for that specific mistake, but because I do not forgive him. I have had no forgiveness for his easily distracted self. And that is what I need to forgive.
Do you see what I mean? It’s not enough to just forgive the incident. I think in the past for me it’s been: “I forgive you for doing this” but there’s always that nagging piece of me that gets mad because “he might do this again”. You see, I’m not forgiving him. I’m forgiving the situation. And barely doing that.
But when I forgive Marc including those parts of him that have done the hurting, it changes my perspective on the whole thing. It makes me less angry about the ticket and it makes me less fearful of future tickets (or whatever other situations occur). It’s like I’m no longer saying “no” to something that hurt me, but saying “yes” to something… to someone. By forgiving, I am again saying yes to the man I promised to love for the rest of my life, human as he is. That’s why we specifically put in our vows: “To forgive you daily and to love you daily”.
That realization really changed things for me. And suddenly I feel lighter about the whole situation, when I know normally it would be stewing in me. That familiar hopelessness that I feel when I am disappointed seems to be gone now, too, replaced by the goodness of forgiveness. Saying a hopeful yes, instead of a fearful no.