Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Forgiveness

Today I had the opportunity to meet someone that I could never imagine meeting.  Someone who taught me about forgiveness.  Oddly enough I had been praying to God to understand forgiveness.  It not that I've ever really had a difficult time forgiving people.  It's just not in my nature to hold a grudge.  In fact I can recall as a young girl wanting to hold a grudge because someone had either hurt or angered me... but in the end I could not.  But there was something that was like a very small pebble in my shoe. It rolled around and occasionally went under my foot and sometimes I wouldn't feel it but every now and then the pebble would annoy me. And that annoyance that came up and reminded me of the hurt that had happened to me was something I wanted truly forgive, the way that Jesus did.  So I started praying each and every time it came up, asking God to help me truly understand forgiveness.  I learned some small lessons along this forgiveness journey, and then I hit the jackpot that "cured" me of this struggle.

So fast forward to one of my "sick" days... that I wrote about in earlier posts... where all I could do was lay around in bed.  I turned on the TV to a PBS program and a man was on stage and introduced a lovely young woman from Africa who had a book she had written and they spoke about "forgiveness."  I don't remember much about that program but I did write the name of the book down and decided to get it.  It is listed on my blog as one of the books I recommend. The book, "Left to Tell," by Immaculee Ilibagiza.  I think I read the book in 2 nights, reading well into the wee hours of the next day.  The book is the story of a young girl with hopes and dreams of the future with an ideal family life and two parents who love her very much, and how that life she once new was changed to a nightmarish holocaust in the Rwanda Genocide.

In the book, I finally learned the lesson of true forgiveness.  There is much that Immaculee had to forgive though I dare say many would find it justified in our world if she did not forgive the horrors that happened to her family and friends.  This is a must read, and a must share.  Along with the many other books she has written.

This is the lesson that opened my eyes, we are all sinners.  Who am I to think I am greater than the most hardened offender.  Much is given much is expected.  Praise Jesus that I was never tempted to murder, and forgive me Jesus if I have not used the graces you have given me to instantly forgive offense committed against me.  There are those who need our love, need our prayers need us to forgive even the outcasts.

And so I go back to where I started, it is hard to express the emotion that I had meeting Immaculee.  I had worked myself up to a point of not being able to sleep the night before.  My sister Shiela suggested that due to the heavy traffic in the area around ODU campus, it would be best if we left extra early. Well we arrived and had a front parking spot as well which was ideal because my father who never complains could have used the closer spot.  He's been in a lot of pain lately.  When we walked into the building, we happened upon a reception for Immaculee.  This was an unexpected bonus.  We were served h'orderves and wine.  I can not express the joy that was in all our hearts this evening.  I happened to look over at a glass door and I noticed a lovely woman, smartly dressed in stylish gray tweed suit.  She had a gentle smile and a welcoming demeanor.  I had brought a couple of books with me and I walked over to her and asked if she would sign my books.  She graciously accepted and my sister was able to get a picture of us.  After the reception Immaculee gave a lecture about her experience in Rwanda.  The talk left the packed room breathless.  There was standing room only. Her talk was titled, "Left to Tell: A story of Peace, Hope and Forgiveness."




I hope you will read the book, it will change your life.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I gave up nothing!

Gifts from God!

I've heard it said so many times... err, actually I think it was it was me that said it... "I gave up so much for my children and they don't appreciate it"
In retrospect, I gave up nothing.  It is all I ever wanted to do.  I remember praying one day, very specifically, age 12 that God would bless me with lots of babies.  I'm not sure if it was the influence of the Brady Bunch or some other childhood fantasy.  I wanted to be a mom.  Not a popular dream in this world of ours.


I would joke about how I was going to raise my children differently.  All in fun.  "Mom, when I have children, they will get to eat their dessert first.  This way they will beg for green beans, and I will tell them, eat your dessert first!"  I love that my mother had a great sense of humor and laughed at my crazy parenting ideas.  I had many more, some I even wrote in journals.  When I look back at my ideas, I see why children should not be parents.

Not sure where this post is going, my kids keep interrupting me. 

Oh yes,Gifts from God, they come in all sorts of packages, sometimes you have to unwrap many layers before your gift can be revealed... and I'm not speaking about children per-say, but about all the gifts from God.

Jesus, thank you for my gifts, 
Especially my precious six, 
And my hard working one
Thank you for my sufferings
Thank you for seeing me through
Thank you for giving me Your Mother
Blessed Mother, Thank you for your son
Lord,
I hope to make you proud
I pray to never take any of my gifts for granted.
Jesus Jesus Jesus


Suffering to an outsider, may not look like a gift, but peel back the layers and a gift more valuable than gold is revealed.  Most of us know people who have suffered health complications but come out of it with a new perspective.  I know of a lady who suffered through Breast Cancer, and returned to the Church.  Along with her she brought her older children, who then brought their children.  When I ate lunch with her she said, "If I had to go through it again, I would."

Matthew 5:11-12:
"Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


No one has given up more, than My God, My Savior, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

This Lent I vow to offer more, and complain less.