Gratitude for a Forgiving Heart (part 2)

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.
– Carl Jung

Having swallowed enough pills to kill a horse and inhaling gas fumes for an hour, my suicide should have worked.  I had been using and abusing alcohol, believing it to be my only comforter and my only defense against the ghost and monsters of my “sins” and my unworthiness. Driven by those self-demeaning and self-destructive beliefs, my liquid comforter deceived me, causing me to lose my hopes and dreams much the way drugs and alcohol would someday play a major role in the death of Marilyn. Like her, I was profoundly depressed and I ran directly into the arms of alcohol, a most seductive lover. Under its influence I could forget that I was not supposed to want too much out of life or expect too little. In the clutches of the insanity it caused, I wanted everything and nothing all at once. I had married Bill and brought my nineteen-year-old self—an empty satchel stuffed with pain—to my second marriage.  (From Ragdoll Redeemed: Growing up in the Shadow of Marilyn Monroe)

So I wrote Bill a long letter of apology. I told him about my past and that I was sorry that I had nothing to contribute to our years together except fear and emptiness. I asked his forgiveness and let go of any concern about how he would respond. It didn’t matter.  The freedom that came from mailing the letter was like a huge weight that just melted away.

Had I not experienced such murderous rage toward my ex-husband and the God of my understanding, I may never have been given the opportunity to know the profound sweetness of giving and receiving forgiveness.

Bill died three years ago and I was able to facilitate my children’s grief.  Though it was by their own choice that they had not spoken with him in several years, his passing was something they needed to process.  They lit candles, wished him well on his journey and told him of their regrets regarding their relationship. I felt privileged to have been given a degree of softness in my heart toward him and our life that I could participate in their farewells to him. I lit a five day candle for him.

It has been part of the Mystery and Paradox of God’s grace, that by honestly searching my own mistakes─ acknowledging the ways I have ‘missed the mark, it has allowed me to forgive others. It is this forgiveness then that has opened up a benevolent and bountiful place within me. I am profoundly grateful.

Thousands of rainbow colors filtered through the church’s stained glass windows, softening my heart as I thought of man’s and my thoughtless inhumanity to man. The breathtaking colors, gorgeous music and the gentle barefoot dancing girls with their hands beckoning to us to forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us, bathed me once again in feelings of forgiveness. Forgiveness, flowing through me and extending forward and backward through time immortal until innocence can one day be bestowed to all. As the warmth of light filled the room, my eyes teared with gratitude.

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Gratitude for a Forgiving Heart (part 1)
Steps to Forgiveness