Become a Sister Request Prayer Volunteer Donate

Making Peace with the Past

[caption id="attachment_1781" align="alignright" width="200"]Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP[/caption] Comedian Lily Tomlin is attributed with the words: Forgiveness is "letting go of every hope for a better past."   Say that out loud: LET GO OF EVERY HOPE FOR A BETTER PAST. I love this idea.  It came up in a book my study group has been reading called Redeeming Administration by Ann Garrido. Ann also noted that when Jesus entered the Upper Room, where all the apostles were gathering after his death, Jesus visits them and greets them with Peace. He does not dwell on their past behavior, their fear, their abandonment of him, and their failure to stand with him in his hour of need. Jesus did not hope for a better past. In fact, I tried to find some reference to the past that Jesus makes in the Gospels and I can’t find any such text. The closest reference I came to seems to be the incident with the blind man in John’s Gospel when the disciples ask the question "whose sin is this, his or his parents?"  Jesus answers, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned." (John 9:3) Another veiled reference might be the woman caught in adultery: "Go home and from now on do not sin anymore."  (John 8:11) What is done is done. So much of forgiveness has to do with the way we view the past. I never thought of the past as something I could change. But I certainly have felt held hostage by my view of it at times.  I think there is something to the idea that on some subconscious level, I wish the past was better… or at least different. Wanting the past to be better is what keeps me tied to it and to the pain or hurt or problem.  Sometimes the past has to do with something I regret. Same problem: how do I let go of every hope for a better past, better behavior on my part or better behavior on the part of the person or situation in the past.  Part of the problem is sometimes the past still hurts, still does damage today. (that’s another blog) Nobody gets through life without pain or disappointment or hurt or suffering.  You know that.  The thing that keeps us from fullness of life is our inability, for whatever reason, to negotiate the disillusionments we face with our family, our friends, the disappointments and losses in life in general.  We are all disappointed at one point or another in life. Forgive yourself for not being all that you want to be.  Forgive your friends when they sometimes fail you.  Forgive God for not making the world the way you want it to be.  Forgive your husband, your sister, your brother, your cousin. Forgive your uncle, your girlfriend, forgive your boyfriend. Forgive your neighbor. We have to forgive our children for growing up and leaving us, forgive them for coming back home Forgiveness is a grace and a gift we receive that is meant to be given away, freely and without strings.  Sometimes the string of the past is the one thing that keeps us tied up and unable to forgive. When we can recognize that what is done is done, that the past is what it is, and it will not be any better, then we open a new door to new possibilities, we change the world.        

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *