A Mighty Change of Heart…What Forgiveness Feels Like

I know for absolutely sure that hearts can change, desires can change, people can change……I know this because it has happened to me in such a real and powerful way that I could never deny it. I am a frail and silly and clumsy human being. I feel like I always do the best I can…but sometimes I make phenomenally stupid mistakes. I am so thankful for forgiveness.

love in the sand

Something happened in the Spring of 2009 that still takes my breath away.When I talked to my husband this week about all of the real, true life miracles that have taken place this year…I asked him what he thought the biggest ones were…after we both decided that his recovery was the biggest….the next one I chose is the one I want to tell you about. And, it probably won’t seem like such an earth shattering thing to any of you….(maybe it will!) but, to me, the beautiful mercy shown by the coordination of this miracle in my life is an unforgettable testament to the power of our heart’s desires….. I woke up early this morning, on Christmas day, to look back in my journals and make sure I remembered it correctly…..and I saw clearly that I started to write about and pray hard about a resolution happening in my life for this particular issue in early 2007. It took a few years to coordinate things, but the prayers were absolutely answered.

love through the trees

This is a story about mending fences…….asking forgiveness and accepting forgiveness….about friendship and love and hurt and sorrow and human frailty and mistakes and pain and beauty.

In late March of 2009, I stepped on a plane headed for Los Angeles. I thought I was going for a strategy meeting for my company, but what I didn’t know was that I was about to enter a tense conference room where my company would end. I didn’t know that…..but, I am certain that God did. I went a week early so that I could spend some time with a friend, finish up a collection I was designing, and head to an art retreat that I had been invited to. I was completely looking forward to the trip.

Spring of this year was a humongous turning point…one of those times in your life when so many things are defined by the befores and afters…..for me….before Chatterbox and after Chatterbox……..this was the trip that was the in-between time…and many things  that happened after this trip would be described as “after chatterbox”……….this was the closing of many many many doors…lots of goodbyes and lots of scary new hello’s and what-ifs and even some why’s……..but…..

spring birdie

SO MANY THINGS happened on that trip….one of the things that happened the minute that I stepped on that plane, was something I absolutely was not expecting, was not prepared for, but was so crucial to what I needed to be able to move forward…………

I ended up miraculously seated next to an old friend. This was not just any old friend….this was a friend that I had not spoken to for over 2 years….and a friend who had been a very close, very important and very valuable part of my life. This was a friend who I had experienced one of the worst, most painful and ugly  fall-outs of my life with….and it had left me feeling so horrible, confused and devastated. I won’t go into the details………but, when I looked back at my journal today, there were just prayers that something would happen sometime to heal this up……to make my true intentions known….to create forgiveness and wholeness for both of us and everyone else involved…because this was pretty far reaching….a family relationship on both sides. We were both hurt, angry and confused by what happened and how it happened. I made huge mistakes in the form of not communicating and being very careless and cowardly………..it was during all of the horrible mess I was going through and it’s one of the only things in my life that I wish I could go back and change…the way I carelessly handled this very important relationship….this led to horrible misunderstandings, which led to anger, which led to mean words….which lead to a new, weird, crazy painful acquaintance kind of relationship that did not even come close to resembling what was really underneath. This person was like a sibling to me………….but, just like it happens for everyone in life….we make mistakes and we don’t always handle things in ways that we are proud of….

….those years that went by were pretty devastating…it was a complicated mess and the only one who really knows how painful it was for me is God, because I talked to Him about it a lot….it seemed that there was just no resolution to it………..there were too many complicated pieces and it was too awkward and it just seemed impossible to fix….

….but just before it was time to close all of those other doors in my life, God made sure that we got the chance to mend, fix and close the door on the past and open whatever doors we chose to open…..He put us on a 2.5 hour flight together. We were back on the same fence…..and I know for sure that God loves this person deeply, just like He loves me….and He wanted to bless this person too.

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Miraculously, this friend had just had some serious personal epiphanies in life….and this person’s heart was soft and receptive. The 2 years that we had not spoken, my heart had been broken and disintegrated, so my heart was open, soft and receptive too. The anger was gone, the hurt was gone…there was only hope that we could finally fix this.  We actually were just happy to see each other….and it was so much less awkward that it probably should have been…..within minutes, we were talking about life, friendship……..mistakes, forgiveness…………….I asked for forgiveness…..and it was very sincerely accepted. We talked about our families and our goals….about what we had learned in the last few years about life…and what we had learned from each other before all of that stuff happened. We talked and talked and talked….and I cried a lot…..laughed a lot. I felt this huge hole that had been in my heart for those years filling up with love and forgiveness. I felt this person’s forgiveness….but I also felt myself really truly, incredibly and wholly forgiving the situation, forgiving what felt like such mean actions of this person (but this person was just doing their best, too)……and even forgiving myself. Sometimes the hardest job we will ever do in all of our life is to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, our weaknesses and our frailties…………somehow, I was finally able to do this, concerning that long and drawn out and very horrible situation.

When we arrived in L.A…….this person had to go on to the next flight…..but, we sat together until it was time to go and we finished it all up by making sure that we each knew that all was well…..that we loved and appreciated each other…that it was profoundly difficult for both of us when our fallout happened and the years after……..and that we still loved each other like siblings. Then we went our separate ways….became Facebook friends……and started over, trying our best to support and love each other on our individual paths. I need to tell you that for all of those years we lived in the same town, and never saw each other even once, until this day on the plane.

Mend Fences

This seems little, doesn’t it? It really wasn’t little for me, at all. There were a few really really REALLLLLY huge relationships that fell completely apart when my life fell apart…it was PROFOUNDLY painful….there was a lot of pain when Marq had his accident…but that was an accident…there is a whole different kind of stinging pain when you CHOOSE to let or make things happen……and the few relationship fall outs that happened in those years were a daily thorn and a painful hole in my heart that I prayed for really really often….pretty much daily. I missed these people more than I can find words to explain.

Like I said…I made mistakes………..and they made mistakes…….and we all hurt each other. It sucked. It was horrible…but through MIRACLES….we were able to have the experience of mending fences with almost all of those fallouts this year. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t comfortable……….but God put situations into place that were perfect opportunities for me to show my love for each of these people……..a HUGE gift to me that I needed to be able to heal the past……….one friend desperately needed a job and I was able to help them find a really incredible one…for me, that was a huge gift…I was able to help and show this person how very much I love and believe in them………another friend went through a horrific crisis…and when she turned to me…..it was my great blessing to be able to heal our past by showing her how very much I love her and do everything I could to help her……..I COULD NOT ASK for a greater gift than the opportunities I had this year to make up for lost time, to mend painful breaks in fences, and to start over on these few crucial relationships. The ways that we were put together EXACTLY WHEN THE TIME WAS RIGHT were NOTHING short of miracles, and I will thank God forever for making this happen for us.

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Things have happened in our life that have required a lot of forgiveness….when people ask me or Marq how we have done this, we have the exact same answer……through prayer. I KNOW and NO ONE COULD EVER TAKE this KNOWING away from me, that God can change what is in your heart. He can take your pain and turn it into strength, if you ask and if you do the work of believing it is possilbe…He can take your anger and your bitterness…and honestly, truly turn it into love that surpasses ALL understanding…love that makes no sense, but love that you can not deny or stop feeling….it is the wildest, wackiest, most incredible thing that I have experienced over and over and over again. When Marq was very sick and very mean and very difficult to be around…I used to constantly pray…”please help me to love him more than I could ever love anything or anyone…” “please help me to be patient with him and to see him the way that You see him…” AND BY GEORGE……..seriously, it happened…I could not NOT love this man with all of my whole heart and soul if I tried………I am stuck to him forever and ever and every….and it is the best feeling in the world.

rebuild bridges

Today, my miracle is the  MIGHTY change of heart that is possible through our loving loving loving and oh-so-close God. I KNOW OF THIS MIRACLE because it has happened to me a million times over. I have been forgiven when I didn’t deserve to be forgiven and I have forgiven others when I did not think it would ever be possible. I have seen old wounds melt into nothingness and be replaced with strength, love and patience. I have seen fear and anxiety and exhaustion and confusion turn to clarity, strength and inspiration…..I have seen the power of love and forgiveness….I have felt those big changes in my heart….Then……peace. The kind of peace that only a heart with no more ugliness, no more anger and no more fear can hold.

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My wish for you this year…for me, and for everyone I love is that you will seek out what and who needs to be forgiven and give yourself the gift of truly forgiving them. Forgive things that seem impossible to forgive….even if you  have been hurt immeasurably….please just try. Pray for your enemies….love those that hurt you…wish them the best….let them know that you forgive them……..and, if you feel you need to ask for forgiveness…..take a breath and do that too…….say you are sorry….tell them that you are just a human being and you want to do a better job,tell them what they truly mean to you….and ask for forgiveness. IT IS POSSIBLE. IT IS BEAUTIFUL…and I have learned, it is the ONLY way to live.

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