Forgiveness is harder than it sounds

I am going to admit something not too pretty here: I have a hard time with forgiveness.
I can hold a grudge and think up reasons to not forgive someone all day long.
It’s not healthy, I know.
And sometimes, forgiveness comes with conditions. Or at least, begrudgingly.
My hardened heart comes honestly, I think.
My Granny prided herself on her unforgiveness.
She could tell you how long it had been since she had last spoke to someone, why they had quarreled and give you every reason why she was justified in her anger.
“I ain’t spoke to her in 55 years, and I ain’t got no plans to speak to her now,” Granny said about someone one day when she heard they were gravely ill.
“They may pass away,” I told her.
This did not sway Granny. “I doubt it,” she said. “They are too mean to die. And more than likely, this is a ruse to see how many flowers they get or who still cares. They won’t be getting that from the likes of me!”
I thought she was made of some tough stuff to feel that way – to not care that someone may pass away without resolving those unmended hurts. But Granny did not care.
Mama, for the most part, can carry a grudge herself.

 
She still to this day cannot stand my first grade teacher.
Granted, the woman should not have been allowed in a class room, but Mama still cannot let go of her hatred towards that woman.
“Mama, I don’t worry about that woman,” I said one day after Mama was commenting her disgust. “And that was how long ago? Can you do like an overplayed Disney princess and let it go?”
“No, I cannot. She probably scarred you and countless others. She had no place in a classroom.”
True, that woman should not have been allowed to mold young minds. But she’s probably close to a 100 years old if she’s alive now…. surely she had asked for some sort of penance?
Mama didn’t care.
I sighed. I had my own grudges to nurse.
Don’t you hate it when you are comfortable with your grudges and justified in your anger and things keep popping up in your face?
Topics focused on forgiveness continually pop up on your emails, news feed and other areas.
You start to think, “Hmmm…maybe this is some kind of message?”
And then someone you simply adore starts talking about the very thing.
Forgiveness.
Oh, bother, as Winnie the Pooh would say.
I had heard all this forgiveness stuff before – who hasn’t? – but had not put it in action yet.
Like my Mama and Granny before me, I had taken great pride in not forgiving someone or letting a hurt fester to the point it was beyond repair.
I had let my heart get darkened and hardened, leaving out the possibility that maybe I was wrong or that maybe the other person had been going through something else.
I sat and listened. Truly listened, I wanted to add.
I listened to hear how we are supposed to forgive and let healing happen.
And how forgiveness really is something we are supposed to work on.
“But what if…” I thought.
They didn’t know what this person did to me.
It didn’t take into account the pain I had felt or how that person had treated me.
Nor did it mention that I may be completely right in my anger or feelings.
I was, too.
Let me tell you, if you sat down and heard my side of things, you’d realize I was right and that the other people were wrong and they didn’t deserve forgiveness or compassion or even kindness.
I didn’t want to forgive.
Didn’t that mean it was OK what they did?
Didn’t it mean that I was giving in and letting their actions go unnoticed?
I thought about all the people who had wronged me – the people who had lied, the ones who had let me down, didn’t do what they promised, and who had ended up hurting me when I least expected it.
How could I forgive that?
And here was someone I thought so much of, saying how we needed to go to the person and explain how we – not them, we – had been affected by the situation and ask for forgiveness about how we had felt and reacted.
We – or rather, me.
What if I had reacted in haste or pain and taken things the wrong way?
What if I had been the one in the wrong – and not the other person?
What if I had missed out on having someone I loved in my life because I had been an equine rear for too long without going to them?
I could hear Granny’s voice in my head, telling me it didn’t matter, it was never our fault, we were never wrong and no one – no one deserved forgiveness, least of all us because we never did anything wrong.
She may have been right; this is something I have struggled with for over 40 years and undoubtedly will a bit longer.
Holding grudges and having a hardened heart was something we had nurtured for quite a while and had elevated to an art form. But sometimes, forgiveness isn’t for others; it’s for us.
And maybe, some forgiveness is in order.
Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the novel, “The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery.”

 

 

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The first ever non-diet resolution (1/6/2016)

This is maybe the first ever time I have not started the New Year with some grand resolution of losing at least 10 pounds.

It’s not because I didn’t really make “resolutions” this year, but because I discovered the other definition of resolution was “contentious matter” and that’s what they seemed like to me.

No, I decided I wasn’t going to mention a diet at all this year.

Do I need to lose weight?

Oh, my thighs yes –I need to lose weight.

I always think I need to lose weight, even when I didn’t but this time, I did.

But this year, I wanted to be more mindful in attacking the objective instead of just writing at the top of a list “Lose weight.”

I wanted to figure out why I had gained weight to begin with.

There’s some behavior involved that if I don’t deal with it, will only keep recurring.

I knew my behaviors too well.

I am an emotional eater, which means if I am happy I eat; if I am sad, I eat; if I am nervous, I eat. Whatever the emotion – I eat. It’s much better than addressing the real cause behind the emotion, at least temporarily.

Add to that food allergies/intolerances and sensitivities and I have a perfect storm to be chubby.

I can eat something and blow up like a puffer fish.

I know this and I eat a piece of cheesecake anyway.

Then I spend days in agonizing pain, angry at myself for eating something I shouldn’t anyway.

Focusing on a diet that promises I will lose 10 pounds in two weeks is not going to help me.

“I don’t think you need to lose weight,” Mama said on New Year’s Day.

“Mama, the only female in this house who likes being chubby is Doodle,” was my reply. It was true. The pittie mix was proud of her curves. As a matter of fact, I need to get some of Doodle’s attitude. “I am going to get back to my normal weight but I am not setting it as a resolution. If I do I’ll give up by the third week of January along with everyone else.”
And then, when Valentine’s Day hits, I will just pig out on candy in red foil hearts because hey, I had already failed at my resolution, so I may as well eat 37 pieces of chocolate.

So this year, instead of trying to do some crazy crash diet and getting mad at myself because I broke down and had a spoon of Nutella at 10 a.m., I am going to be mindful.

I am going to listen to my body and myself – if I am eating out of an emotional response, what is the emotion?

I will be mindful in how I feel and respond to those feelings.

What do I need to deal with?

Is there a better way I can process the issue besides eating?

None of the stuff I know I can’t have, either.

My health needs to be a priority. Pain can be well, crippling. I have hurt so badly I could barely move. It’s not fun. My husband will tell me if something hurt him that bad, he wouldn’t eat it; I tell him I wish it were that easy. It’s not.

Probably most importantly, I am also going to stop hating myself.

Instead of beating myself up when I do need a spoon of Nutella – who doesn’t? – I will process it and move on.

I am not going to associate guilt and shame with food any more.

I’ve done it long enough and it’s probably a huge part of the problem.

So no more of that nonsense.

If I eat a piece of cheesecake knowing I will hurt for three days and be puffy, I am just going to eat the dang cheesecake.

Even more so, I am going to enjoy it.

Nope, I told everyone, I was not going to list ‘lose weight’ as my resolution this year.

Instead, I am going to take control of this whole torment with food once and for all.

It’s one resolution I can stick to.

 

So long, 2015

2015, I am glad to see you leave.

I wish I could say it’s been fun, but it hasn’t.

The past 12 months haven’t been horrible, but, they just haven’t gone as I thought they would. I had goals.

I had plans.

I had aspirations.

I had ten pounds I wanted to lose and a pair of skinny jeans I wanted to fit in again.

I had a room to de-clutter and turn into an art room.

It now has more junk in it to go through in the post-Christmas chaos.

Isn’t that the way every year goes though?

The number of people I considered to be friends has decreased a bit more, as with each passing year I learn who is really my friend and who is just around when it’s convenient.

I am fine with that.

I have learned it’s OK to have quality over quantity, especially in this area.

I found out we can endure far more than we ever imagine. I have witnessed people in my life somehow make it through things that would have bested a giant.

I have learned some people can amaze us with their strength, their perseverance, and their faith.

I think, however, there has been enough tests, and enough trials and tribulations to last a lifetime.

2015 hasn’t been all bad, however.

There have been moments where my faith in people have been restored.

Small miracles have come through.

Good things have happened, even if not on the scale we wanted.

We’ve found gratitude can help us stay focused.

We’ve learned the small things do matter and that manners make a difference.

We have more technology than we could imagine, and can watching things on demand, read books on our phones, and can Facetime with someone across the world.

And still what we crave the most is a hug from someone who really cares about us.

2015, you have been full of ups and downs.

You’ve given us horrifying, heartbreaking news any time we turned on the TV.

Then, Steve Harvey messed up announcing Miss Universe and the world had something new to tweet about.

Your weather has been moody as my Mama was my senior year and before hormone replacement therapy was widely used.

If anything, between the 70 degree December, torrential downpours, and resurgence of bugs that should be hibernating in cocoons, you are making the 1982 version of Mama when she ran out of cigarettes late one Sunday night seem more stable than your weather patterns.

No, 2015, I am glad to see you go.

I am welcoming in 2016, with open arms, great dreams, and big goals.

I am believing this year will bring in better things – new beginnings and better opportunities – and that somehow, even when we don’t believe it, that miracles will happen and good will win.

I am counting on this year being so much better than 2015.

Instead of being glad to see the year end, it will be as a year where great and wonderful things happened.

Not just for me, but for all of us.

I think we all are long, long overdue.

 

“What was Thanksgiving like when you were a little girl?” Cole asked as I was making plans for this week.

“It was nice,” I said, before I gave it much thought.

“Just nice? Was it different in any way?”

What was different? I had to think. When we get caught up in our day to day busy-ness, we forget the moments that became traditions and memories.

My Thanksgiving began when it was still dark, as I wanted to get up as early as possible to enjoy the day. Granny had started cooking the night before when she got off work, and her turkey would already be a golden perfection, just waiting until we all ate.

I would sit in the den, listening to her humming in the kitchen and she would wrap me under a quilt, tucking the end under my feet to keep me warm.

“What do you want for breakfast?” she would ask.

I swear, the old gal was downright sweet when she was cooking. Something about being in the kitchen suited her soul.

“I don’t know,” I would say, knowing what she would offer.

“You want me to fix you a sandwich with the first slice of turkey?”

I would nod and minutes later, she returned with a sandwich of white bread generously coated with mayonnaise, salt, pepper and warm turkey.

“The parade will be on later,” she would tell me, turning on the TV.

Granny spent most of the day in the kitchen but it was worth it – she had homemade coconut and banana cakes; Mississippi mud cake; and sweet potato and chocolate pies. Two separate pans of dressing – one with onions and one without for me and my uncle Bobby.

It was a rare day during the week that I had all of my family home in the same time frame – Pop and Bobby were home, instead of working. Mama usually had worked the night before and with it being a holiday, she normally worked then as well, but she’d watch the parade with me.

Cousins, aunts and uncles would wander in throughout the afternoon to watch part of the football game or just visit.

To me, it was a perfect day.

I don’t even remember any Black Friday sales when I was a little girl – if there was, we didn’t go. Granny had the Sears Wish Book and that’s where she was doing her shopping.

Normally, we were still digesting the day after Thanksgiving.

It changed, when I met my ex, as I started celebrating Thanksgiving with his family.

I never realized how much I missed my own family’s celebration until I got older and things had changed so much it could never be re-created. And, just like that, everything was different.

It was a simple, idyllic time, surrounded by family, during an era free of fear and worry. The news was not filled with horrors or stories that make your heart ache. Or at least it wasn’t for me, because I was a child.

I didn’t know there were things in the world to fear.

How was my Thanksgiving different?

So much has changed in more than 30 years.

The world is such a different place now, a real life dichotomy that can be terrifying and full of hope at the same time. Things are so different now than when I was a little girl.

There’s a more hurried pace and the time together is so much shorter. We are lucky to just have Thanksgiving dinner with family now, those times of Thanksgiving spanning over several days are long gone.

But there we are, we find ourselves surrounded by those we love and are thankful for.

“Not much has changed,” I said, kissing his head. “It’s still a day we focus on all we are grateful for.”

Indeed, and we truly have so much.

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/18312/

The Insomniac’s Hypothesis

I am deeply envious of those who get a full night’ sleep.

Lately, I have been able to only sleep for a few hours, wake at 2 a.m. (give or take a quarter) and then lie there, tossing and turning, sleep eluding me.

I’ve taken to sleeping on the couch because Lamar is an extremely light sleeper. Or he claims to be; yet, a few years ago, when I had a 45-minute coughing fit, he didn’t even open an eye.

The worst is when you are really, really tired and you lie down, thinking how badly you need that good restful sleep. You can be so exhausted you can’t even blink. But the minute your head hits the pillow, your eyes are wide open and your mind is spinning like it’s on a hamster wheel.

Such has been my nights as of late.

As I wearily lie there, my mind tries to trick itself into slumber by thinking of the craziest things. Or perhaps the craziest thoughts come to me because of my lack of sleep.

I found a rerun of “Seinfeld” in the wee hours and was awake long enough to see Elaine’s hairstyle go through some pretty dramatic changes. I also wondered what kind of skin care she uses because she hasn’t aged at all. I spent far too long wondering about that before my mind drifted to other things.

Such as: Do dogs ever get sleep deprived? I mean, mine sleep a lot – do they ever feel like they don’t get enough sleep?

Why does Doodle like to eat my shoes? Did she have shoe envy?

Why does Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream taste so much better than other vanillas? And on that train of thought, why do the pumpkin and egg shaped Reese’s cups taste better than regular ones?

Was I the only person in the world who didn’t like pumpkin spice lattes? Or pumpkin flavored anything?

Was Facebook really going to start charging us per month, and sell all our photos?

What if Mama was right and everything in “Star Trek” would come true one day? Even worse, what if Mama was just right – about everything.

Were we out of our emergency mayonnaise? I hadn’t checked the shelf in a while. The one in the fridge may be the last one in the house.

I panic if I run out of mayo.

These are just some of the inane things running through my head as I tried to make myself fall back to sleep.

None of them worked. Instead, these random questions ricocheted through my psyche like a pinball.

I tried to remember when “Seinfeld” went off the air – it was ’90-something.

I wondered if I got a perm, if my hair would look like Elaine’s when she wore it loose and curly.

Did I have any hidden caffeine other than coffee in the morning? No.

Someone suggested it may be hormonal changes coursing through my so-young body.

At the time, I scoffed it off; at 2:30 a.m. I was wondering if that could be the case.

The dull headache of sleep deprivation began just as the realization I was not going to fall back to sleep washed over me.

“I’m just not going to fall to sleep tonight,” I muttered aloud.

Doodle lifted her head and looked at me, but was back asleep as soon as her head rested on her cushion.

I looked at the time on my phone. Another hour and 15 minutes had passed.

I played a few rounds of Candy Crush; it didn’t help.

Finally, finally, after another hour or so, I felt myself yielding to sleep. I could feel the sleep settling in as my breathing grew shallow.

Sleep, precious sleep, I was going to sleep as long as I could – it was never too terribly late, mind you, as I can’t sleep past a certain time.

And Doodle won’t let me. She’s my back up alarm clock system.

I was hoping I would feel rested when I woke up, instead of like I was a grunting, stumbling Walker in makeup.

Sweet, glorious sleep.

Just as I felt myself drifting off, it happened.

The alarm went off.

I tried to re-create the almost-sleep atmosphere, but all my attempts were futile.

I got up and pushed the “auto” button on the Mr. Coffee.

Maybe sleep would find me later. If not, I could always philosophize some more while I watched another rerun of “Seinfeld.”

settle for more

Settle for More (April 1, 2015)

A friend and I were chatting one night, catching up on things and the conversation turned to our usual wistful, wishful discussion of how life was really going.

You know, the real conversation that occurs when we get beyond the superficial stuff.

And once we had the stuff about our hair, makeup, latest diet out of the way, we got down to the nitty gritty.

“How are you? Really?” we asked each other.

When you’ve been friends a while you know there are often things that go unsaid.

“I just thought,” she began, “I don’t know…that life would somehow be….”

Her voice trailed off.

I understood exactly what she meant.

Different. She thought by the time she hit 40, life would be different.

More settled, more secure.

More exciting, more fabulous.

I had thought so myself.

In fact, when I was younger, I thought by the time I hit my 40’s – which, when I was younger, I thought was some ancient age – I would have acquired all the success I could handle and would be sitting somewhere, content with life.

No, I wasn’t drinking, either. I was in my late teens when I had this delusion.

A professor once told me frustration is when our expectations and our realities are not jelling.

If that is the case, consider me frustrated.

Make that a lot of us.

When I graduated college, I thought there was nothing I couldn’t do.

I was going to do great things, set the world on fire.

I see that hope, inspiration, motivation in young people now when they graduate, thinking it will be them that change the world.

But life happens.

Not that life is bad.

It’s not – life has a wonderful, beautiful way of putting us where we need to be sometimes.

It’s just that somehow along the journey, we realize we get off track towards our hopes and dreams.

Those things we thought we’d achieve, do, accomplish – the great American novel, the rock n’ roll album, the wild, crazy dreams – never get fulfilled.

And we settle for things that are far less than those dreams.

We settle for jobs that pay the bills instead of feed our souls.

We settle for situations that really don’t make us happy.

We settle for lives of quiet desperation, fueled by unfulfilled dreams that leave us yearning for things we think are so out of reach.

The great secret, I told my friend, was that really no one’s life has gone the way they wanted – for the most part, anyway. There may be a few that did but more than likely, they all had something that wasn’t perfect, some area of their life that didn’t turn out quite how they wanted.

“And that doesn’t mean life is bad,” I reminded her. “It just means that sometimes, we get sidetracked from our dreams. We stop focusing on what we want, and we just…”

“Settle,” we said in unison.

Someone posed the question in a group over the weekend: “What would you like to change about your life?”

I thought long and hard before I responded.

Other than having some issues with forgiveness or my inability thereof, I wouldn’t change anything.

Sure, there were mistakes. I learned from them.

Yes, there were opportunities I didn’t take that would have been really, really incredible – and would have maybe given something more substantial towards retirement than the $1.75 I have lingering somewhere.

And sure, a lot the experiences and circumstances brought heart ache, disappointment, and made me feel devastated. They didn’t all get me closer to my dreams, or even put that much money in my bank account.

But they all made me me.

Just like the detours and experiences in my friend’s life had made her beautifully her.

We had grown up and thought we deserved the mediocre jobs and the fake relationships.

We thought we deserved to be talked to harshly and treated poorly and even worse, thought it was okay.

“So how do we change this?” she asked. We both were out of wine and the conversation had gotten far more serious than Malbec can handle.

“We settle again,” I said, hearing her sigh. “But this time, we settle for more.”

We start acting like we do deserve better and go after it with the same optimism and foolish belief we can do anything we set our minds to. We take the life we have, and we make it the very best it can be.

Because just because life doesn’t turn into the fairy tale we thought it would be, doesn’t mean it is still not something amazing.

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/16248/

happy new year 2015

My year-end wrap up (12/31/2014)

happy new year 2015

It’s hard to believe that 2014 is well, over.

This year has flown by – but every year has gone by at warp speed since I have officially become an adult.

Officially being an adult means, I have to pay for, hide and wrap presents for a child.

The rest of the year seems to be divided amongst the two seasons of “Dancing with the Stars.”

I don’t know what 2015 will hold – with the exception Marty McFly will arrive at some point in October in a DeLorean (someone may want to tell him to tell the Doc to ditch the car when he returns to 1985) – but I know 2014 was nothing like I expected.

This year showed me how things can change so suddenly. I lost Granny in March, after just seeing her a few weeks earlier. I had no idea that day in February would be the last time I would see her. Had I known, I would have talked to her more, had one last argument between our stubborn, too familiar selves.

A few months later, the world lost Robin Williams. I was greatly saddened by his death, growing up with “Mork & Mindy,” complete with Mork’s rainbow striped suspenders. I wore them with my “Dukes of Hazzard” shirt when I was younger. I apparently wanted to support my favorite television shows in one fell swoop of branding failure.

Then, Joan Rivers passed away. I wasn’t a huge fan of Joan Rivers – if anyone remembers the huge long distance wars of the ‘80’s, they remember Rivers’ commercials, with her saying, “Can we talk?” as she belittled AT&T and hawked Sprint. Well, guess who Mama worked for? And as a card-toting member of the union, she was loyal to the core for whoever gave her a paycheck and helped her dress her baby in tacky t.v. themed clothing.

Posthumously, to Mama’s chagrin, I found myself liking the comedienne after hearing more about her life.

“She still promoted the competition,” Mama said, not as quick to forgive in death.

Some celebrities had their private photos hacked and leaked without their permission. People were quick to say how they shouldn’t have taken them in the first place; but mostly, people were wanting to know where to see them for free.

While the privacy and rights of some celebrities was horribly violated, the Internet came under attack when Kim Kardashian attempted to break it.

As we know, naked and nekkid are two different things – and she was, well, nekkid.

“Why? Oh, my Lord, why?” was all I heard as my child ran into my office.

“I saw a nekkid woman on the computer,” he cried. “Why?! Does she not have clothes? Please, tell me someone set a timer on the camera and was not standing there, taking a picture of that!”

My 10-year-old has seen a lot of unintentional nekkidness this year – first, when a news clip showed Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball, and then when he was on a news site that had a link about Kardashian’s attempt to break the Internet.

“Mama, I hate to say this,” he said moments later. “About that picture, of the naked woman…”
I waited for him to finish.

“I’m craving Krispy Kreme donuts now….”

I could see his point. There was a whole lot of glaze going on. We later found out that her posing nude helped Kardashian’s self-confidence. If the last few years have been her with low self-confidence, can you imagine what she’s going to do now?

2014 told me I was all about that bass, “‘bout that bass, no treble,” which is fine, but I don’t think I am shakin’, shakin’, like I’m supposed to.

Aside from pop culture happenings, I saw a lot of changes in myself.

I tried to release my vise-like grip and let my child take swimming lessons over the summer, convinced I didn’t want him to be like me and not learn to swim until nearly 20.

I was informed by Cole he wasn’t entirely too sure about the cleanliness of the water with so many strange bottoms in it. Did they bathe before swimming?

I decided to homeschool my child, which has been a challenge but worth it. He has told me he wasn’t sure he was getting the ‘full learning package’ so I went out and bought him four workbooks to enjoy.

It is also the end of 2014 and I still have yet to use algebra. But more than algebra, I found I hate Common Core math.

2014 gave us ice bucket challenges as a way to raise money and awareness. v

And selfies became an everyday – almost every hour – occurrence for some. Hashtagging also didn’t make things trend just because of the symbol formally known as the pound sign.

“Did you have a good year?” Granny would ask as the year would wind down. I told her once, no, I hadn’t and was ready to tell her all the things bad that had happened.

Instead, the old gal looked at me and snorted.

“Well, what did you do about it? If you didn’t like it, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude about it. Don’t focus on what was wrong – look at what went right.

“That’s what’s wrong with a lot of your generation. Y’all a bunch of spoiled young’uns. I blame MTV. Y’all think everything is supposed to be flashy and exciting like one of them music videos. It’s not. Life ain’t pretty. It’s real. And it’s supposed to be lived to the fullest.”

With that perspective in mind, 2014 was lived to the fullest – full of love, learning and embracing change.

I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings.