Can I Find the Forgiveness?

Above is one of the few memes still left in my “Future Blog Ideas” folder on my computer. Every time I gaze upon it, one very specific moment in time comes right into focus. It’s been almost 5-1/2 years since that moment took place, and yet, to this day, it tends to make me angry and pissed off still.

The person from whom I will never get an apology is someone who touts her strong and faith-based Christianity to anyone who might perhaps hear her. This same person once belittled me, when saying grace before a meal, for not saying “in Jesus’ name we pray” before I said “Amen”. She told me in no uncertain terms that I need to say that in my prayers because we can’t get to heaven without going through Jesus. I chose to let the moment pass, swallowed down any retort and just didn’t give her any response at all.

This person of whom I speak was my father’s wife, the woman he married some years after my mother had passed. She is a woman I’ve known most of my life, as she was married to my mother’s brother (therefore my aunt) for many years until my uncle passed away. The two couples were always close and upon retiring, my parents moved into the same gated community in Florida where my uncle and aunt had retired to. She was there to help my dad when my mom took ill, and he was there to help her when my uncle took ill. I can’t say I was surprised that they ended up married.

I remember, visiting them after they’d been married a little while, that I had said something to the effect of how excited I was that my cousins (her two daughters, one from a previous marriage and one with my uncle) would now be my step-sisters, because I’d had only brothers. She quickly reminded me that they were my cousins, and it was no big deal in the scheme of things.

When my dad passed away, there was a service in Florida, which had been home to him for over 20 years, but he was to be buried in Pennsylvania, next to my mom. I pushed for a memorial service in PA before burial; she tried to tell me that wasn’t important because all of his friends were now in Florida, I pushed back with, “That may be, but his family is here”. I felt we, my brother and I, my niece and other close friends, had the right to have a service. I set it all up – paid for it all and for her hotel room since she had planned to fly in the day of the burial. I even paid for an obituary in the local home paper because they still had friends and people who knew them from the many years they lived here. Albeit small, we had our memorial service in the church that was ‘home’ before their move to Florida.

The burial was mentioned in the obituary to be at the convenience of the family. We wanted it to be small, even though we had it scheduled in advance. It was attended by her, my brother and I, and my older brother’s widow (oh, she’s another story!).

At the end of the service, as we all went back to the driveway where our cars were parked, we were asked if we all wanted to go out for food and all declined. In moments shortly thereafter, my dad’s wife said something that literally made all of us drop our jaws. She very tersely told me that she was angry that her granddaughter (daughter of my cousin) should have been listed as one of my dad’s grandchildren because he was the only “pop” she’d ever known.

To this day, I still feel my eyes get big with disbelieve at those words. My cousins were not to be considered step-sisters, and the other cousin’s son wasn’t considered as a grandchild, but this one should be? And the way she said it, you’d have thought that this child who was omitted was going to be scarred for life for being omitted!

Very quickly after that, after the three of us had handled the shock, we all split ways. Mary (dad’s wife) got back in her car, drove it back down to BWI airport, where she’d flown into, and spent time with her daughter and precious grandchild. A picture was posted on Facebook shortly after of the two of them jumping on a trampoline in the back yard, and the granddaughter did not look worse for the wear for having been omitted…

We had no contact again until I needed to contact her about the birth/death plate that hadn’t been put on the grave marker. Since everything had been prearranged and prepaid for the cemetery before my parents ever moved, she didn’t want to deal with them so suggested we contact them directly. Eventually, my brother got everything straightened out and the plate was added. (Thank you, Brad!)

Since then, we’ve had no direct contact. We are “friends” with each other on Facebook, and very occasionally, she posts something for which I hit the ‘like’ button, because I like it. Her birthday date comes up on FB, but I do not send a greeting. Mine does NOT show on FB, and I suspect by now she doesn’t remember when it is.

But here’s my point… I can’t get past her consistent “religious” posts, still portraying herself with this moral sense of faith while she is capable of uttering such painful spite and never thinking she needs to apologize for it. That is a struggle I’ve had before – the people who are vocal about their amazing faith while simultaneously doing obvious things that are just the opposite. It’s that “black and white” way I see things. I’m not religious, though I am spiritual and have a connection to the faith in which I was raised. And I know I’m often a sinner, but I don’t go touting my faith in a way that would make anyone think I wasn’t.

I know I should let go of this. To be honest, it isn’t something nagging at me as it used to. But I can’t visit my parents’ grave without remembering it, since it happened there, and it certainly takes away from the reason I choose to visit it. How do I forgive that? I get that finding forgiveness is being the better person, but do I really need to forgive? I mean, I’d like to be able to let it go, but the circumstances of where and when it happened will always remain, so how can I? An apology would help me so much – for her to recognize that what she said was unfair and cruel would truly allow me to forgive her for the wrongdoing. But I just don’t have what the meme says… I don’t have the strength (to be honest, I don’t have the DESIRE!) to forgive someone who isn’t sorry and accept an apology I never received.

It’s a shitty situation to be in…

Do We HAVE To Forgive?

Almost five years ago now, someone who I had once admired, despite obvious flaws, said something to me that was not only very inappropriate, but was said at a most inappropriate time. In the time since, that situation pops into my head randomly, and each time I replay it in my memory, my sense is that I am not ready to forgive it yet. Of course, it certainly doesn’t help me to find forgiveness when that person has never apologized nor even hinted at some sense of remorse or acknowledgement of wrongdoing. Because of social media and familial obligation, I have a very limited contact with this person and we have not spoken directly to each other since this event happened.

Because of the amount of psychological training I have under my belt, I know that the concept is that we need to forgive but are never forced to forget. All of that training insists that I believe that not forgiving induces that the person who wronged is still “in control” of me in some way. And it’s true that I have forgiven others of more traumatic and life-changing wrong-doings done towards me. Why is this one so difficult?

I’m realizing lately that it isn’t anger that I truly feel, but disappointment. This is yet another straw in the camel’s backpack of someone who touts Bible-banging, righteous Christianity continuously, and what was said was, I believe, the exact opposite of what Christianity is supposed to mean. Having grown up in a small church where, not only was everybody’s business everybody’s business, but gossip behind peoples’ backs was rampant; it felt like this was just another example of fake Christianity. I’m fortunate to know some people who truly live their Christianity by deed far more than word, but finding another hypocrite hiding under the wing of Christianity still seems to cut like a knife.

Should I forgive this person? Probably. And maybe in time, I will. But I’d rather stand with my feet in cold ocean water stating that I have trouble with faith issues than stand on some pedestal proclaiming, by word, of a devout faith and showing, by example, that it’s a farce. And if my inability to find forgiveness never changes, I’ll know, at least, that I have been more honest in my faith than this person is. And I’m deciding that I’m okay with that!

This is going to take some work….