"As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.”
Forgiveness is an f-word that most of us certainly don’t want to hear. However, after reading such a quote, it propels you to self-reflect and think about forgiveness or the lack there of and its costs. This year, as challenging it is, I have endeavored to leave unforgiveness behind. Don’t get me wrong, I have forgiven many people but there have been situations that have really challenged this resolve, especially as it relates to the past.
You know what? Forgiveness is hard. I think one major issue for me is greatly one of memory. I have a very keen memory—the kind that is photographic in nature; able to recall: times, conversations, and details, DETAILS, and more DETAILS. I don’t forget.
Forgiveness isn’t simply forgetting what happened. It is intentional and it takes time. It is continually deciding to let go of your pain, hurt, negative memories so that you can be free. Forgiveness takes work. Your feelings may not even line up with your decision to forgive but for your own freedom’s sake, you must release your grievance.
At Kelyn’s funeral, I shared these words regarding forgiveness:
You know, funerals have a way of bringing people together in the way that it places you right in front of reconciliation to make a decision about how to proceed. It’s such a vulnerable and reflective time and with the reality that life is fleeting; forgiveness is waiting at the wings to be dispensed. But like my counselor once told me, forgiveness is a gift.
Every time I think of this last line from my speech, it hits me like a Mack truck. When someone hurts you, even if it is someone who loves you, you often want to repay them or make the feel the gravity of your pain. But what if he/she never apologizes? What if the person is deceased? What if you just don’t want to forgive? What if...? For your own freedom, what must you leave behind?
Despite how I feel or how wrong I feel a person is/was, I know that I am tired of carrying the pain and hurt of yesterday. I know that if I want to be forgiven, I have to let go of my unwillingness and forgive. (Matthew 6-14) Now, this doesn’t mean that we will go back to being the way we were before but it is my understanding that this is something required of me if I want to be forgiven. I realize that I must love myself enough to let go. I like to think of it this way—my heart to small to house negativity; there needs to be room for more love, good things, better relationships.
This blog post today, will also serve as a reminder of my resolve. I will try not to let the fact that I know that it is more difficult to carry this out in practice, keep me in bondage. Can you relate? If so, what will you leave behind as you journey to freedom.
Sometimes, it hurts to remember. Today, I was reminded of two memories that occurred on this day, May 14th, years ago.
Both pictures reminded me of happier times, when my children were toddlers. I remember the day the first picture was taken. I was at a two-day workshop on race and equity. Hassan was on daddy-duty. He bravely took the kids to the local playground by himself. I couldn't believe he'd done this because I had never ventured alone to the park with the kids by myself. I remember feeling a little left out but also so happy to see my sweet babies listening to and enjoying each other's company. Kelyn’s smile was everything! I wondered what they were saying to each other.
In the second picture, taken a year later in 2017, I insisted that I wanted professional pictures for Mother’s Day and Hassan obliged. It was so hard to make our children smile at the same time and cooperate with the photographer. As you can see, the twins looked amused but didn’t smile. I am so glad we took pictures that year. Before Amira passed, I deleted pictures that I'd taken because I didn't like the way I looked in them. After she passed, I regretted doing that. I wished I had gotten over myself and my insecurities and kept those pictures.
Before Kelyn passed, I wanted her to take professional pictures. I discussed it with Hassan; I almost took her to get them without the rest of my family too. Unfortunately, due to the busyness of life, I failed to make it happen. I thought I had more time. The truth is life is short. Tomorrow really isn't promised. (Prov. 27:1)
What have you put off doing? It’s can be so easy to put off things you want to do even when you may feel a sense of urgency in your heart. You may even think there is more time.
Sometimes, it hurts to remember even when the memories also remind you of happier times. It's the dichotomy of life—joy and pain; laughter and sorrow; good times and bad ones. No matter what we feel, life keeps on going so we have to take time to feel even when it hurts.
Interestingly, my children can’t go to the playground due to stay at home orders/playgrounds being closed. Right now, cute pictures can't be taken on park benches. Most of all, their sister is no longer here. We sure do miss her! So much has changed in a short time. We are all adjusting.
As I reflect tonight, I promise to act when I feel urged to so. I will take more pictures and make more memories—beautiful ones that may one day cause me to laugh and cry at the same time. I will remember the past even when it hurts to do so. I will take time to feel...
What will you do more of as you grieve? Or as you live life in general?
New Jersey Native. Proud Haitian-American. UNC-Chapel Hill (First-Generation College) Graduate. Double Tar Heel who obtained a Doctorate from NC State. Educator. Devoted Daughter and Sister. Loving Wife and Mother. Lover of People. Photographer. Poet. Home Chef. Singer. Worshiper. Preacher and Motivational Speaker. Virtuous Woman. I am who I am by the Grace of God.