I am going to take the liberty and re-post a comment Kay made on a comment by wounded bird
about 'forgiveness' ; being asked for and being given.
For me taking things on rather than giving them up seems more meaningful to me. I had decided to read a couple of books and our adult education class was studying a booklet on forgiveness. As life frequently does, there was a sharp curve. I read the books and we attended the adult education (the booklet was horrible) but the lesson in forgiveness was lived not studied this Lent.
When Sarah and I first got together, she talked a lot about regrets she had over the relationship she had had with her daughter, Julie. Julie's last year in high school coincided with Sarah's growing need to transition and in a family who did not communicate well it was very difficult. Disastrous, in fact, with family relationships.
Julie talk with Sarah occasionally but the sons (2) have no contact with her. Sarah had written Julie of the regrets she had because of how she had treated her during her last year in high school and had gotten a wonderful father's day card last year. Julie would visit when she was in town.
We had gotten to know one of the sociology professors at the local university and he wanted to do a documentary of our life and Sarah's transition. We gave him a list of names of other people to contact. Little did we know it caused real distress in Sarah's family. Julie decided the story needed to be told from the family's perspective too. She was the only family member who agreed. The professor interviewed her for at least 2 hours. He brought the cd over a couple of weeks later. The interview was in two parts. We watched the video separately. Sarah's daughter was very honest and articulate. The first half of the video was the daughter's story of what happened in the family and after Sarah and I were living together. I think we both felt like we had been punched in the stomach after we saw the first half. We were really in mourning. The things Julie said were not said in an effort to hurt. They were things that we really needed to hear, hard as they were.
The professor brought the second half of the video over about 3 days later. In this part, Julie begins to talk about how much she loves her father. The sense of loss they felt at losing him to the transition but how she was looking forward to making new memories with Sarah. This allowed us all to talk, give apologies and begin to live into new relationships.
Julie even asked if she refer to me as her step mother. I was delighted!! Sarah and I are so proud of Julie. We are so grateful to her for the gift of forgiveness. We look forward to making new memories with her. This was a difficult and wonderful Lent!
Sarah's thoughts--as the person who caused such grief and pain, I am so glad that my daughter has accepted my profound apologies for how I treated her and her brothers. My sons have not accepted my apologies or offers to be forgiven, or extended a welcome. I know that it was hard to watch the person they knew as their father suddenly vanish and morph into the stranger who calls herself Sarah. They had no say or influence over the path I accepted as my authentic self. And now they might not know how to open the door of forgiveness.
Maybe there is too much bitterness still in the air, but I pray that one day we will look each in the eye and come to a healthier understanding and relationship.
For my Lenten obligation and days, I have redoubled my efforts to bring joy and happiness to others, and to continue my readings and study.