As promised, here is the second part of my sharing on struggles. To read the first part about how I used scripture to help my son, Lexicon overcome some bad feelings and thoughts, please read that here.
I also struggle hard with the fourth commandment. “Thou shalt honor they father and thy mother”. I do not have a relationship with my parents. Not my biological ones nor my stepfather. It’s not something that I am proud of, but it’s something that I absolutely struggle with. My boys don’t have typical “I-fawn-over-my grandkids” grandparents around. On either side. I rarely speak of these relationships here because I don’t think that helps. I decided when I began blogging that I would only post what would or could help others. I would definitely NOT use this as a forum to air grievances for their own sake. My goal would always be to further spiritual growth, reflection, contemplation, Catholic foundation and always give back to my blog community.
Lately, I have been “playing” bible bingo where I just grab my bible and say to myself: “Lord hear my prayer”. Then I’d flip to whatever page, and bingo! I’d read whatever my eyes landed on. As I carry my struggles around with me and contemplate them, I am sure the Holy Spirit looks for opportunities to give answer or clarity on whatever ails me – even if I won’t admit it to myself. We all suffer from pride, dear friends. Without fail, here’s where I landed:
Commentary on Luke 17:3-4
Forgiving offences – which is something we should always do – should not be confused with giving up rights which have been unjustly violated. One can claim rights without any kind of hatred being implied; and sometimes charity and justice require us to exercise our rights. “Let’s not confuse the rights of the office you hold with your rights as a person. The former can never be waived. (Navarre Bible of St. Luke, emphasis is my own)
Here’s the actual verse for Luke 17:3-4 Be on your guard! If another disciple[a] sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”
Do I forgive without giving up rights that have been unjustly violated? I struggle with that but I try. I try to by turning the other cheek and reaching out, but I’m slapped eventually. How many times do I have to turn the other cheek before it becomes commonplace to ignore the personal healthy boundaries I’ve set for myself and my children? How many times should we ignore manipulation, deceit and the lack of family that should be an irrefutable foundation? God says always forgive, always. The commandment says to honor my mother and my father – another, always. I struggle with subconsciously interpreting the commandment to mean that instead of my birth/step parent/s, I could honor God as my Father and Mary as my Mother and be done with it. I can honor them. That’s easy. But maybe that’s the key.
I’ve been unjustly violated and have forgiven time and again.
I think the crux here, is what I have underlined “if there is repentance”, “and turns back to you”. They don’t. They won’t. They hold on to those two words which could move mountains in the realm of true forgiveness and healing: I’m sorry.
Over time, in my marriage, I realized that I, too, held on to apologies like a child who refuses to share. I wouldn’t apologize. I have learned (the hard way) that apologies, can seem small, but they carry a powerful balm with them. A balm that breaks up the weight of sadness and wrongdoing in a way nothing else can. There’s strength in giving the gift of that balm to others; of freeing someone of those bad feelings and hard memories. I long for that. I am sad that I will never get that from them. I am sad for my children; they will never know why my parents or his are rarely in the picture. It’s because I am a fierce protector of their hearts, innocence and souls.
One last note from the Lectio Divina book, Too Deep for Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina With 500 Scripture Texts for Prayer by Thelma Hall, r.c. , that I am enjoying:
God will continue to ‘flesh out’ – i.e., incarnate – throughout people and events his grace of gradual transformation. We cannot accomplish this through our own efforts. Rather, our part is one of consent, and of letting go of all that resists him, arising from the illusions of the false self in its egocentricity and claims to autonomy…Of course we will often fail, in the struggle to be faithful to the desire to say our ‘Yes’. But the sincerity of our desire is more meaningful in God’s view than its accomplishment, and our experience of weakness can often teach us much more about our radical dependency upon God than our apparent and often secretly self-gratifying ‘successes’.
What say you, friends? I have carried this heavy-on-my-heart-struggle on my own for a long time. You know I pray for them.
I’ve spoken to my husband, my friend S, priests, my deacon. And I waver. I waver with forgiveness, violation and boundaries. But since I played book bingo the other night and have been reading this new selection…it’s all so much bigger than me. It’s about smoothing me over. Getting my Yes, failing in my Yes and beginning anew, finding His grace in these struggles, holding His hand and trusting blindly to His will. Isn’t it?
Have a peaceful Tuesday.