Monday, April 9, 2007

Paradox on Forgiveness

I came home from my "other family's" house, and went into my parent's room to say hi and to ask how Easter down at my grandmother's was. And before I could even get a word out, my mom said, and I quote, "You look like a hooker in a tablecloth."

My Easter dress was cream colored with roses around the bottom and a red cover sweater. I had matching red Mary Jane heels. To say that I liked the outfit is an understatement. I adored everything about it. If I had looked like a hooker in a tablecloth, I wouldn't have worn it. But my mother doesn't think about the gravity of her statements before she tosses them about so casually.

And then, as if I needed to hear another ugly word come out of her mouth, she started talking about her Easter, and how the aunt she doesn't like takes in LDS missionaries to feed them. She asked, "You aren't still thinking about a mission are you? Because they don't feed you. So be careful, because they're just a bunch of brain washers." And I left the room. I left in tears, convinced that she and I were incapable of conversation during which I wouldn't feel alienated for my religion. I felt as if I had lost my mother and gained a sparring partner. I prayed and cried as I brought the laundry in from the Durango like she asked, and felt betrayed and foolish for enduring such treatment.

Pretending like nothing's wrong as I continue about my day with tears and prayers; that's the story of my life presently. She wonders why I don't stick around, why I'm never home, why I spend every day of my life away from my family, whether it’s for work, holidays, weekend activities, or Church. THAT'S why! She can't go without insulting me, without being ugly and cruel! I don't deserve how she treats me.

But, of course, my Heavenly Father always takes care of me. He gave me peace, as he always has in the past. He also gave me understanding of my situation, and what I need to do for now.

The Church is my support system. The blessings I’ve received from the brethren in my branch, the talks and hymns from the church web site I’ve listened to on my MP3 player when I’m upset, the prayers I’ve stumbled through in my darkest hours, my patriarchal blessing, the support of my church family has made remarkable changes to my life, and have gotten me through some of the hardest times I've ever faced. As long as I have the Church, and the love of my God and my Savior, I cannot be destroyed. I know that for certain. Why should my mother's comments even phase me for more than a moment? The best advice I've received from General Conference about what to do in my situation came in the form of a question: If the gospel is true (which it is), then what else matters? Answer: Nothing else. Only the gospel matters.

I failed to appreciate how valuable, how essential an imagination is to the human existence. To be able to create a future, a story, another reality in my mind is something I've often relied on to get me through my trials. To endure through struggle is one thing, and obviously very important. But imagination cultivates hope by creating new circumstances without the grief, sorrow, anger and negativity that is all too easy to inherit. I take joy in the life I conceive silently, yet hopefully. I have a beautiful future ahead of me because I've decided it shall be so. I've painted the images in my mind, and the gospel will be the colors on the canvas.

One of the hardest lessons for me to learn has been with the virtue of forgiveness. But as I've thought about this experience with my mother for the past few hours, I wonder, why should I be bitter for anything she places in my path? Why allow petty misunderstandings to upset me? I know full well that she knows not what she does. How can I therefore justify even the shallowest of anger against her? If the Savior can forgive the men who caused him to bleed from every pore, who hung him from the cross, mocked him, and allowed him to die, then why should I allow myself to harbor anger, hatred, or despair?

He lives, and would have me live, which I can only do if I forgive those who wrong me.