The Season of Forgiveness, Easter

I’ve been thinking a lot about Ephesians 4:25-27, which says,

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,  and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…  Sage advice from Paul.  Advice I’ve heard before, the first time from my father-in-law as a toast at our rehearsal dinner before we were married, and later, in the days of small children when such advice seemed more idyllic then possible.  Over the years as you settle into a routine and figure out the navigation of marriage and children it fades into the background, where it isn’t given much thought.  Until something happens to bring it to the foreground again.

Jesus forgave our sins–he paid them forward as a human at the ultimate price.  A forgiveness that is so big it is difficult to comprehend.  Why then, do we have so much difficulty with forgiveness?  To forgive someone their transgressions costs us nothing, but our inability to forgive costs us dearly.

Back in the beginning of October I posted about going to my high school reunion.  I grew up in a town about an hour and a half from where my dad lived.  I told him I was coming, and fully expected to see him–after all I was flying 3000 miles!

I didn’t really notice until after the fact that he didn’t really respond when I spoke to him on the phone about it.  Then he went on a two-week hunting trip mid September so when I called to clarify meeting up with him I left a message, knowing he’d get it when he returned.  I was there from October 4-9.  I never heard from him.  He didn’t take my phone calls.  I was ticked, and my feelings were hurt.

When I arrived home, Bugs informed me my dad had called and then asked me if I was avoiding seeing him.  I was surprised, and even more upset.  I didn’t once stop to think this was odd, so wrapped up in my own feelings was I.  And determined that I wouldn’t call him back.

He called me on the 10th, and the conversation did nothing whatsoever to make me feel better.  He had forgotten my birthday, but remembered it during our conversation.  Again, another warning flag that I missed, because I was too caught up in myself.  When I asked him about getting together when I was there, his response again was very strange.  He said he was never one to demand time with his kids when they came to town.  Stunned at his words, I pointed out that I flew all the way across the country and I wanted to see him.  He brushed aside my comment as though I hadn’t made it.

At this point I was so upset that when a call from a friend came in on my cell, I asked him if I could call him back.  I hung up and burst into sobs.  The friend that had called asked what was wrong and when I told her, she counseled me to let it go, but I didn’t listen because I was too intent on holding on to my anger and hurt feelings.  I called him back but the conversation was odd, and I wasn’t really listening.

Over the next 16 days I thought of him every day, but refused to call him to really talk about it.  I kept thinking, when I’m not mad anymore I’ll call.  I was waiting for…what?  For him to call me?  I don’t know, but here is where I paid the price for letting the sun set on my anger.  He died on or about the 19th.  He wasn’t found until the 26th.  He had just turned 70, and was active.  I had no reason to think he wouldn’t be there.  Visiting with his hunting buddies brought to light that he hadn’t been feeling well since mid September and explained his odd behavior–things that were there but I didn’t see because I chose to see only my anger.

I can never change that.  It is now a permanent part of my life’s landscape and I think about it every day, and am quite sure I will never forget it.  Anger given rein is like a forest fire–it changes the landscape permanently.  And even though life grows back, it is never the same as it was before.

Had I followed Paul’s advice (and my friend’s) it wouldn’t have ended in that way.  So in this season of Easter, if I can change even one person’s life with my story about forgiveness, then maybe I can begin to feel that something good has come from this.

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.

Have a wonderful Easter.

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36 Responses to The Season of Forgiveness, Easter

  1. Wow, this story moved me so much!! I really feel for what you must be going through, but you have to forgive yourself or it will eat away at you. You loved your father and I’m sure he knew that!!

  2. Lynne Ayers says:

    That is a rich and wonderful story to share – ‘life’s landscape’ …

  3. robin says:

    Wise and true reminders for this Easter weekend. And now, perhaps, it is time for you to forgive yourself…:-) Happy Easter!

    • Robin, thank you for stopping by, and the kind words. I do need to forgive myself–and I think I have, but some sadness remains. Time will help–as well as blogging and photographing flowers. :-). You have an amazing Easter weekend!

  4. Anger is a terrible thing..I used to get very angry,,very fast..held onto grudges like there was no tomorrow..
    After a few years I begun to realise if I never changed the way I responded to things..it would eventually get me in trouble..or begin to eat me up inside..plus I was overly sensitive..so every little thing used to get to me.
    One day I went to my dad and asked him to help me find scriptures in the Bible about why anger was not good..I have a little A5 booklet with about 6 or 7 pages filled with scriptures about anger..and every time I want to get angry..I remember those scriptures..amongst other things..separate myself..try and get calm (usually works by me throwing on some Israel Houghton until I eventually crack a smile) and learn to forgive those that hurt me! It’s not easy..but it does seem to become easier as the days pass and I think about my reactions before I react..
    Thanks for sharing something so personal with us. Something good has come from this..and God knows your heart..take courage.
    Happy Easter.

    • That’s interesting. I’d say as a kid I had trouble with anger, but forgave very easily. As I’ve grown older, I’m finding that I have more trouble with forgiveness. Thank you for the kind words of wisdom. Anger is a human emotion–and we can’t go through life never getting angry. It’s what we do with it that determines our fate. Have a great Easter!

  5. I’m so sorry you had to go through that experience, but I hope you can find peace about it. It was such an unusual situation, I think a lot of people would have reacted in the same way. It’s very difficult not to defend your own feelings when you feel hurt, but it’s a lesson I need to learn myself, too. I’ve been through this sort of thing (on a smaller scale) more times than I’d like to say and it has left me wondering what on earth I’m doing, and why I’m so slow on the uptake and blinkered sometimes. Thank you for sharing such a personal and difficult story. I’m sure this post will touch everyone who reads it.

    • Lorna, Thank you for your kind words. The passage of time is a great healer. It may sound corny, but I believe with all my heart that there is a purpose to everything, that everything is how it should be no matter what it is. I know it’s pointless (although admittedly difficult to do) to do the “should have” dance. It serves no purpose except to bring one down on things that cannot be changed. We therefore always have to strive to look forward, and not repeat what is behind us. Sometimes, a very painful journey…but one full of growth, if we allow it.

      • That’s a good attitude, and I quite agree (although I can’t say I always put it into practise as well as I would like to). As you say, it can be a very painful journey but good things can come out of it. We’re human and we make mistakes, but learning, growing and developing our understanding is a very fulfilling and reassuring part of being alive.

  6. I guess I’m a bit of a cynic… I believe God (whatever your conception of him/her/it/them is) always answers prayers.
    Thing is, sometimes the answer is “No.”
    It may be for your own good. It may be to further your part in the Greater Plan. But “no” still hurts.
    Such is the way of things, I suppose.

    • I believe that as well. Also, sometimes there is no answer at all. But that is the point of Faith, is it not? Thank you for reading and offering comments. It’s good to hear what other people think. And you’re right–any answer besides the one we want is hard to swallow.

  7. Beedie says:

    Beautiful Photography and a very sad story. If you have not read: Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorgani – it’s a beautiful book that I highly recommend.

  8. Beedie says:

    Excuse me – that’s Anita Moorjani…not Moorgani. Ooops

  9. fivereflections says:

    beautiful words, images, and beautiful comments…

    David in Maine USA

  10. deniz says:

    I think you’re right about the sadness lingering – though if it didn’t I suppose, they wouldn’t be lessons that we remember {{hugs}}

    Happy Easter!

  11. Elisa says:

    I was moved by your story, it touched me so that I know that I’ll be thinking of you, thinking of your father. I don’t know if this will be of any comfort, but sometimes as people age they change and don’t think as clearly as they used to…the memory goes. And sometimes medications can be personality changing. I speak through the experience I had with my mother, who has also passed away. Time really will help you through this, and the good memories will spike through the pain.

    Take care! I hope you had a wonderful Easter with your family.

    elisa

    • Thank you for the kind words, Elisa. I’m sorry for your loss as well. It’s weird how many times I liken it in my head to a sudden and abrupt physical injury–almost like someone just walked up to me out of the blue and slapped me as hard as they could. I will always feel the loss, but the pain will lesson over time. I hope you are finding that as well. Thank you again for the words of comfort. Hope your Easter was great too!

  12. i mayfly says:

    I’m a little slow reading my email this week (make that last week), but I think your message is a great one anytime of the year – day or night. My poem “I Wish” was written when I was thinking about rejection and being judged harshly, but then as I reflected upon the nature of judging people I realized that I was guilty of that transgression as well. So when I feel hurt or angry I try to recall my own words: “I wish that all my deeds, all my words, all my thoughts were noble. Sadly, they are not. This flaw I share with all of mankind.”

    Thank you for sharing such a poignant story. You are indeed a wise woman.

    • Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comments. You are right–we all are guilty of being “human”, rife with human flaw. I would like to be able to share more of these stories; I think that is how we learn.
      Thank you again.

  13. Wonderful post…important reminder to “forgive others as He forgives us,” but also a cautionary tale of the regret we live with when we fail to forgive in a timely manner.

    Also enjoyed the story and pics from your spring break trip to Hawaii….sounds like your boys had the time of their lives!

    You’ve got a great “spot” here on the net!

    p.s. I finally gave some “about me” info, but did it in a post….really appreciated your comments!

    • Thanks! I read your about me…and loved it! Is that you whitewater rafting? Looks thrilling! Thanks for commenting and reading my blog. It’s given me a new lease on life to be able to write. I’m glad people like reading it.

      • That is me doing the rafting….well, trying to at least :) I’m glad you enjoy your writing so much…it definitely comes across!

      • I went once when I was about 17 or 18. My step mother worked for a guy that did rafting tours. He took us on a class 4. I never want to do it again. I thought I was going to die! I thought it was very hard to stay seated on the edge.

      • lol…your first and only trip on a class 4 ?!? Oh man, no wonder you never want to go again.

        If you ever make it to the Carolinas they have some really nice 2′s & 3′s that are mostly easy with the occasional rough spot….that pic was from the Nantahalia (sp?), which is fun and somewhat challenging….the Chatooga in South Carolina has a really easy stretch with only one serious challenge at the very end (and you can sit out of that one if you choose)…sounds like you have a very adventurous family…

      • Here it is! Was looking for this. I’ve been down south, both N and S Carolina. Very beautiful down there. And I do. One of my posts coming up for the romantic traveler is going to be the Via Ferrata Rock climbing in West VA. My boys did it with the boy scouts, came home and told me no way could I do it. Huh, I couldn’t let that lie. So we went back the next year so I could prove I could. It was fantastic! I will keep the water rafting in the Carolinas in mind. Sounds fun without the huge rapids!

      • Wow…the rock climbing sounds like a lot of fun…and I love west va…..so beautiful up there! Can’t wait to read your post about the experience.

  14. restlessjo says:

    I am often angry. Such a hard way to learn a lesson. Sorry for your loss.

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