I have talked an awful lot about my chosen family on this blog so far. I’ll talk about them a lot more. It is not an exaggeration to say I would not be where I am without them. This blog certainly wouldn’t exist without them. I would not be my authentic self without them (in no particular order): loving, encouraging, pushing, praying with and for me, letting me vent, telling me what I feel is okay, letting me cry, scream, and sing out my feelings, and giving the best hugs. These things are always reciprocal. I often describe it this way: together and chosen family was forged in fire. It’s very true. They help me be brave. They are helping me become the person God always intended. Who is that? Well, as of right now, that is: a woman who finally understands the bravest thing I can be is myself.
What does that look like? Well, it’s always going to be a work in progress as long as there is breath in my lungs. For me: that means telling the world that I am a strong woman who stands with anybody who feels less than and invisible. I stand for inclusion and believe can always overcomes can’t. Why do I stand for all those? It’s quite simple. I know what being made to feel less than, invisible, not worthy of love, and like I don’t matter feels like because of my condition. As a follower of Christ and somebody who has felt all of these things in her life: I simply can’t allow anybody to feel anything, but love, encouragement, and inclusion from me here and in my life outside of blogging. It took a long time for me to be able to write, let alone, say out loud what I just did.
Due to all the stuff I’ve been through in my life: when I love anyone I love extravagantly and hard. I’ve learned, over the years, sometimes, this can freak people out. A few years ago, one of my chosen family came back into my life. This person was my friend long before they were my family. I was thrilled. It was like we never missed a beat. Then suddenly: I didn’t hear from them for weeks. I reached out and was ignored. I became worried. A few weeks after that: I received an e-mail from this person. It was without doubt the most hurtful message I have ever received. It made me cry and it made me angry. It had about a thousand apologies in it for possibly hurting me. I started to respond back, but chose not to because I didn’t want my anger to take over. I didn’t want my hurt to cloud my response, either. We haven’t spoken since that e-mail. For a few weeks afterwards: I turned inward. I internalized the hurtful words as truth. I didn’t reach out to anybody else in my chosen family.
One night God nudged me to reach out to my brother/journey partner. I sent a few words in a text. Less than a minute later: my phone rang. He was as gentle as I needed him to be. He asked me if I still had the e-mail. Nope. I erased everything. I cut off all contact. “Was the e-mail as bad as I’m afraid it was?,” he asked. Worse, so much worse, brother. “Can you tell me?” Without tears? Nope. “I can handle your tears. I’m pretty sure you haven’t cried at all…or at least not much. You shoved your feelings down and stopped dealing with them.” WHOA, how do you do that? “I know you. I know you as well as I know myself.” I know, but still…WHOA. “Talk to me, sis?” I made some noise in my throat because tears were threatening, already. I told him everything the e-mail said crying the whole time. When I was done: he was quiet. He was giving me time to get myself together. I suspect he was also choosing his words…carefully.
He started with “Yeah, that was horrible. It’s also not true.” I bit my lip staying silent. He continued: “I love you just the way you are. I love how smart, loving, and empathetic you are. I love your huge heart and your compassion. You’re one of my best friends. You’re also my sister/journey partner. I guarantee if you ask anybody else in your chosen family they’ll tell you something similar.” After we hung up: I did ask, and the responses were more of the same. I was humbled to know such amazing, loving, gracious, souls. I still am. It’s a privilege. Slowly, with prayer and their help: I could do what needed to be done for myself and this person as well. What’s that you ask? Forgive myself and this person, too. I can forgive this person because God forgave me first. I can forgive myself because I didn’t do anything wrong. I was simply being myself and loving only way I know how. Is it too much for some? Yes.
The next part of this blog post is for this particular person, specifically, because I have stuff to say to them. This blog is public, and on Google’s massive network. I know there’s a possibility it will be seen by the person who, ultimately, gave me an unintended refresher in forgiveness.
- I forgive you. Full stop
- I wish you well.
- I hope you are extravagantly happy, loved, whole, and safe.
- I was incredibly hurt by your words. They felt like knives in my heart. Your apologies and I’m sorry(s) made your words worse. They told me, and they still do, you knew what your words were going to do to me and how they would be received by me.
- I think of you often: when I do I hurt for you. I hurt for you; because I understand something, now, you didn’t about yourself. You hurt me because you were hurting. We often take out and/or project our pain on others. I was where you chose to unload your pain. I wish you had not been in so much pain. I wish my love, empathy, compassion, and respect for you could have reached you. I send you light and love every time you cross my mind. I take a deep breath and I pray for you when you cross my mind as well.
- When you cross my mind and I pray for you: I pray for me, too. I pray God will NEVER let my being hurt by you diminish my ability to forgive you or anyone else. In addition I pray: the hurt I endured, because of you, NEVER changes the way I: feel compassion for others, do my best to change the world for the better, but most, importantly, I want to love everybody, I love, the way I loved you: hard and extravagantly. The fact I can write this blog, meaning every word, is a testament that God hears and answers my prayers about you and I
- If you ever want to give me a genuine apology for the hurt you caused me: my cell number is the same. Give me a call. Don’t text. I didn’t block your number, but I didn’t keep it either. I needed space from you. I promise to hear you out after a genuine apology. As for promising more: I can tell you I mean what I’ve said here. These are the only promises I can make until we talk. If you never read this and reach out: I’m good. I’ll keep doing what I’ve said here, and feel relieved. Relief I’ve done everything I need to do to close such a painful experience in my life and, now, finally, years later: found the courage and words to say what I need to say. I didn’t write this blog post to hurt you. I wrote it to tell others about how hard forgiveness can be, and to tell them it is possible. The hardest forgiveness I had to extend was the forgiveness I needed to give myself. Why? Your words made me question myself for a while. I thought I was a bad Christian, friend, and sister; because of all you told me in that e-mail. My Father and my siblings helped me see everything you said about me was nothing more than your pain talking, and had NOTHING to do with me.
Finding a way to forgive, after pain and hurt, is incredibly hard. It is the opposite of the world we live in. Our world is self-centered so much of the time. That just means love and forgiveness should be our ammunition. My siblings, and I have these grand ideas about changing the world for the better. I have no doubt we will. They’re the smartest people I know. They teach me what it means to lead by example. They push and inspire me to as Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” They show me they mean every word they’ve ever said to me. They’re still here, standing with me, supporting me, loving me, and letting me do the same for them. That’s the greatest gift of chosen family and together: unconditional love.