forgive. rewrite.

Forgiveness (noun):

The act of rewriting a story

My mother-in-law is more than a mother-in-law to me…she is just Mom. And my day began today in deep and inspiring conversation with her, conversation which fed my soul.

She related to me how my relationship with my Mom inspired her in her relationship with her Mom. All the stories I share and memories I treasure prompted her to look for those memories and moments with her mother.

Which is no small feat. My mother-in-law grew up in a traumatic childhood, which though not directly created by her mother was definitely deepened by her mother’s inaction and poor protection of her vulnerable heart. And as John Eldridge points out and we all know too vividly, the sorrows caused by those closest to us, with whom we were supposed to feel safe, are the deepest wounds of all:

What we learned from our parents and siblings about our heart defines us the rest of our days; it becomes the script we live out, for good or for ill.

So for my mother-in-law to “look for” those memories and moments with her mother does not mean a looking to the past…rather it means a recreation of her future, their future. To me, this motion in her life is a true murmuring of the movement of the Spirit:

As we learn to walk with God and hear his voice, he is able to bring up issues in our hearts that need speaking to (Waking the Dead).

And this movement, this Voice, is the most beautiful and glorious of all, because it is the essence of forgiveness. Forgiveness… to give completely. To grant forward. To offer renewal. To award tomorrow’s hope. In other words, to rewrite a story.

In my classroom hangs a painting which expresses one of the deepest and truest sentiments of my pedagogy…and heart:

Live your story; write your life.

Each word we speak, action we choose, relationship we build, mistake we commit, and bitterness we harbor becomes our story. And unfortunately we are not the only authors of those stories. Our family, our friends, our context also write their way into our stories–our lives–for the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And sometimes it’s just much harder to turn the page, so to speak. How much easier to stay in this chapter, which though painful is comfortable, though toxic is known. In some warped sense of control and self-preservation, we believe reliving the same story over and over hurts less. Some even relish in memorizing and reciting passages from that devastating chapter, playing the martyr card so manipulatively.

But how much more daring, more freeing, more God-like, to turn the page and begin a new chapter. Write a new story. Forgive.

Mom, thank you for inspiring me to use the most glorious and bold and beautiful pen of all…grace. May your new story be one of love and light.

May all of ours.