“God’s forgiveness set’s me free, I’m so glad it’s possible,” spoken often by Momma. I keep this paper close as a reminder. Her advice hollers from my closet, loud, insistent and often. And so I prayed, looking to forgive those who trespassed against me until one day as I was praying, it dawned on me. The forgiveness I am seeking is my own.
“God, forgive me.” Let me forgive myself, not with sackcloth and ashes, long repentance and suffering but with simple dismissal of my transgressions. My arrogance, my selfishness, my judgements and lack of compassion. My sloth, my fear of death, my fear of non-death. My fears that other’s care more and witness more for Christ. My fear that I didn’t do enough for the child that was duct taped to his bed and sexually assaulted by his father. The one that was burned by his brother with hot water. How many children did I medicate for aggression that were living with an aggressor? Somehow I should have known more and had power, preventing their abuse.
On and on we could go couldn’t we? Isn’t it ourselves that we blame for our failures, our problems, our children’s problems? Haven’t we heard, put the healing power of the Holy Spirit between yourself and your concern and the blood of Jesus will wash over, making all things new? We are saved not because we repent but because when we repent we remember our salvation which has existed before time with our Lord’s sacrifice on the cross.
My Momma was the youngest of eight children, born to a Mother who was in poor health. She suffered from pernicious anemia, diabetes and blindness. Even though her Mother lived until Momma was twelve years old, there existed a family legend that Momma’s birth damaged her Mother’s health. I think Momma carried that story, that “sin,” that tragedy deep in her being. Cells have intelligence and memory, thus the story lodged inside her DNA, never to be expunged. I’ve wondered if that tale was passed on to her children, lodged inside our DNA. I don’t believe Momma killed her Mother. Eight pregnancies might have contributed to her death, but so did obesity, poor nutrition, lack of medicine and sedentary life style. And so with humility and rejoicing, I forgive all this, releasing Momma from her past. “Forgiveness sets me free, I’m so glad it’s possible.” Amen to Momma, her wisdom and our love. Amen to forgiveness of ourselves.
(The night I wrote this post, my daughter had a dream that she was holding Momma close, cuddling with her and marveling at the beauty of her hands. I think that was her way of saying thank you.)