Learning to Forgive

I fall short all of the time in what I have done and in what I have failed to do. Through my thoughts and actions, I have inflicted unknowing pain on others, yet I do try to be the best version of myself. Lately, it has been about extending forgiveness even when forgiveness seems so difficult. It has been about restoring trust in humanity. Today, something epic happened in the most unexpected way.
Most of you who know me or who have followed my journey, know of the fear I have felt. That fear started when Phil was killed and was intensified after the Boston Marathon. I developed xenophobia towards a culture and a people. Watching Lone Survivor yesterday (based on a true story) of a group of Aghans who protected an American soldier at the risk of their own peril, opened the door slightly. Today, it is opened even further.
I couldn’t get into my regular dentist and I needed to have my broken tooth fixed. I made an appointment with a new dentist–a woman whose family fled the brutality and provinciality of the same culture I fear. She saw my bracelet and asked about it. She teared up as she shared her family’s story. We sat in stunned silience looking at each other. She, the judged, and I the aggrieved. Both of us innocent and both of us simply trying to make the world a little bit better for having lived in it.
The movie and the dentist reminded me of what my Phil believed when he volunteered to go and help set up a broken country. Phil stood for the oppressed. He came from a country in which people fell into two classes–the haves and the have nots. He came from a country in which if a person’s values or thoughts conflicted with a the government, opportunities were nonexistent. He never lost sight of the freedoms and opportunities given to him by his American citizenship. He volunteered to go and to be a part of the solution because he felt that it was the right thing to do and he hoped that if Emily and I were repressed in the way that Afghan women are, or if any of our freedoms were not a given, that somebody would come for us. Phil went to the schools bearing gifts because he knew how much the small things meant to the young children with nothing. It was in the education and the friendships that Phil felt change could occur.
Today as the dentist and I stared back at one another, we recognized the gift, the lessons, and the hope for a future. Today we recognized the shared ties of loss and the positive way forward. While I will not tell you that all fear is gone, there is that quiet understanding that not all people of a certain culture are bad and that they indeed are a piece of my fabric.

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