Recently, I discussed an issue with several men with whom I meet on Monday mornings. We talk about various topics, and that morning’s conversation centered around the idea of forgiveness. For a healthier life, we must let go of resentments and embrace change. Only through surrendering our pain can we free ourselves to engage in the present fully.
Raising children with chronic bleeding disorders is a minefield of frustration. A burst of anger leaves hurt and pain in its wake. I know how helplessness feels. The medicine must find a vein because if it doesn’t, we must pack up and head to a hospital.
“Please work!” I beg, but what begins as a simple petition to the universe becomes a horrible experience filled with shame and regret. What I want to say is, “Hemophilia, how dare you take my family and toss everyone around at your disposal? How dare you rob my sons of being whole?”
After the war, in the twinkling of an eye, my blood pressure returns to normal, and I make amends, starting with my boys and ending with my wife. I must own up to my mistakes and seek forgiveness for any harm I might have caused. It requires taking a not-so-pleasant look at myself and admitting that I’ve taken some harmful approaches when providing medical care.
Admission of wrongdoing is crucial when maintaining open communication with a spouse or child while struggling to provide the best care possible. It is difficult to own up to our shortcomings, but if we do, healing is possible for all parties involved.
In the process of healing, we must not forget to do some of the hardest work required in forgiving. We must not forget to offer apologies to ourselves. Not a day goes by that I don’t regret some of my outbursts. The problem is that I can get so mired down in regrets that I forget to stop and observe the beauty of the moment. I am trapped in a past that is impossible to change. Holding on to what might have been only keeps me hostage to a history that never was.
So, we hear the word forgiveness used all the time. What does it mean? I do not think it means that we forget what happened. I hope to learn from my mistakes.
Per the dictionary of Joe MacDonald, forgiveness means the following: Giving up the prospect that I will ever change the past, and not feeling resentment every time I think of a person, event, or disease state.
The process requires work and intention. One may look at the act of forgiveness as a spiritual practice, as it involves the mind, body, and soul.
My boys and I continue to talk about the many struggles of dealing with their bleeding disorders. Several times, we’ve discussed the difficulty with infusing in the early years. I explained to them that they were not responsible for how angry I got as I frantically searched for a vein while attempting to keep my wiggly children still. I told them that if I could change one thing, it would be my reaction to treatment.
I asked their forgiveness, and they both responded, “Dad, I knew you weren’t mad at me. I know that you were worried about the factor.” I smiled and nodded (OK, I wiped away a few tears) and gave them both a big hug. The past would stay behind us MacDonald guys. There is a big, bright future ahead of us. The possibilities are endless.
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