Thank you to Jessica Latham for this guest post. Check out her site, Rowdy Prisoners

Before the year ends, I will be a mother. Before the year ends, I will have already made mistakes and, though I may not know it, will have begun to plant seeds of hurt on my innocent newborn. As mothers and fathers, we all love, and yet, no matter how great this love, or how great the effort, we will harm our children throughout their lives. It is an inevitable truth.

I think of my mother, her golden straw hair lighting the day – she was my hero as a little girl. I remember, curled up in her arms one rainy afternoon, I told her, “I don’t ever want to live apart from you.” She smiled, perhaps holding those words as tightly as she held me, knowing just as the rain would soon pass, my wishes would vanish over the years. As I grew, I bravely packed my bags for college, lived abroad and settled miles away from my mother. Laced inside those years of growth, I still loved my mother, but my disappointment toward her found its way somehow in each delicate stitch. How had I formed such resentment against my mother, my hero?

And I think of my father, my poor father who was much easier to blame. He masked his own pain beneath pools of liquid fire, hoping to drink himself into flames. I held such strong dislike even toward the beautiful man who cried over his love for me – that it took his final tear to dry up with his short life for me to finally find forgiveness. I came to learn that forgiveness takes many shapes and colors, comes to us at certain times and forms.

I think of all of this as I read Patrick Miller’s The Way of Forgiveness: Letting Go, Easing Stress and Building Strength. Miller openly reveals the personal process he faced in forgiving his parents for their wrong doings. But it is not just parents. It can be siblings, a spouse, a friend, ourselves. He beautifully claims, “When you are trying to decide whether someone deserves your forgiveness, you are asking the wrong question. Ask instead whether you deserve to become someone who consistently forgives.” You see, it is not about that person. We hold the power inside ourselves. Let us not live a life of a martyr.

Miller tells us:

In a time when the recollection and classifying of abuses has become a virtual industry, we have to be careful about proclaiming the specialness of our wounds. The end point of remembering exactly how we have been damaged is to realize that we all share the deep common wound of humanity: being born into vulnerable bodies in a mysterious and dangerous world. Our particular wounds have a lot to do with who we are, and that history is important to understand. But learning to forgive all our wounds, regardless of their severity, is what will speed us toward our potential. An unimagined creativity blossoms in every space within the heart from which pain has been released.

Before the year ends, I will have the opportunity to start teaching my newborn child to proclaim his or her unique wounds, or his or her specialness. He can choose to find fault in his home birth turned cesarean. He can blame his mother for her lack of milk supply, or praise her for trying. He can find beauty in the shape of his figure, hear a symphony in the sound of his voice, or he can focus on imperfection.

I choose to encourage pure specialness. Each of us is broken and each of us spends our lives wishing to carefully build ourselves back to balance. From the moment we leave the sea of the womb, we enter a new, wild world. We can choose to see its coldness, darkness and discomfort, but we can also choose to embrace its warmth, love and light. As Miller encourages us in his book, may we unite with humanity in our vulnerability and fragility – and may we also bloom from each pardon we grant on those that have done us wrong.

 

Jessica LathamJessica Latham is a writer, translator and poet who writes about health, motherhood, happiness and more. Her writing has been featured on NPR, Mothering.com and published in various journals. She is also the creator of Rowdy Prisoners, a site that features stories, poems and interviews about people daring to live with passion and love. Her personal website is found at jessicalatham.com You can find her on Facebook and on Twitter.

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