Is it ok not to forgive?

Forgiveness is on my mind.  How long should someone have to pay for a transgression?  Are there some sins that are too dreadful to forgive?  Can people do terrible things but not be terrible people?

A couple of things have happened recently that have brought this to my mind.  I’ve mentioned in the past that I love to watch true crime TV and over the past week or so I’ve been watching a show called Prison Wives on Netflix.  Yes, yes, it’s eye candy reality TV (you can turn your nose up at my TV watching habits all you want), but it gives an interesting perspective on how the spouse and the family suffer when a member of the family is put into prison for life.

Forgiveness

Source:  http://paulocoelhoblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/forgiveness.jpg

This is the extreme example of what has made me think about forgiveness.  Most of us don’t have to deal with the trauma of a family member in prison for life; what we do have to deal with is everyday, common interactions that leave us mad and upset and angry with others.  That is my second example.

I am really good at holding a grudge.  I always have been.  And a couple of days ago, I saw a comment by someone who I “de-friended” and blocked from Facebook on a mutual friend’s page.  It forced me to think about my grudge against this person.  And I didn’t like how I felt–I felt like a 13 or 14 year old, back when you declared to your best friend, “I’m not your best friend anymore!” on an every-other-day basis.  That is, it made me feel immature and childish.

My mama used to say that holding a grudge only hurt one person:  you.  Because you were expending the energy disliking that person, you were obsessing over the reasons to be mad, you were carrying around the burden of the feud.  She used to ask, “Do you think that they are spending any time worrying and fussing and obsessing about you?  No!”

So, now I’m left with the question of what to do.  Actually, I guess I know exactly what to do.  I should forgive this person for the hurt that they caused me.  The question is:  Do I want to let it go?  And, honestly, I don’t.  At this point, I don’t want to forgive.  I’m going to be ok with feeling immature on this one a little bit longer.

Kindergarten Memories

I met one of my good friends for dinner the other night (*waves* Hi, Nikki!) and one of the things that we talked about was her oldest child starting kindergarten this fall semester.  She’s excited and proud and nervous (about him potentially riding the bus) all at once.

Waking up for the first day of Kindergarten

I started to think about my first day at school, and yes, that included riding the school bus.  Mrs. McConnell was my kindergarten teacher and I remember walking into the school room full of other kids.  Here, I met Marla Miller, Scott Bare, Jimmy Thompson and Lance Shumate.  I remember Marla being the first one to talk and play with me (I was too shy to talk to another kid first myself).  I remember Jimmy Thompson kissing Vicky Barker and being shocked (I was a strict rule follower and kissing definitely didn’t follow the rules of the classroom).

And on the bus home that afternoon, our neighbor’s son, Jamie, who was in 7th grade, took my hand and walked me up the bus aisle and helped me climb off the bus.

Waving “Good-bye” on my first day

Marla, Jimmy, Scott and Lance were friends until we graduated from high school.  With the creation of Facebook, I actually know a lot about what is going on in the lives of many of these same people.  Where they live, what they do for a living, if they have children, even what their children look like.  Kindergarten is definitely a watershed moment in a life.  A great beginning — to make friends that can last for the rest of your life, to begin the journey of learning, to begin the process of your world opening up beyond the confines of your family.  I’m a little jealous that I don’t have any such “big Milestone” moment left in my life.

As I look at these pictures, however, I think that my days are actually not that much different than they were back in kindergarten.  I look pretty much the same when I wake up (no “bright-eyed”, morning person for me).  Then I wave good-bye to Matt and head to work.  Sometimes, though, work feels like spending my day with 5 year olds, fighting for attention and arguing over toys.  “I didn’t do it.  He did it.”  “No, she did it.”  “It wasn’t us.” echo around the halls.  The only thing missing is nap time.  And we aren’t as cute with milk mustaches.

And like in kindergarten, whether I end the day with my name in the column for making good decisions or in the column for being a poopy head is entirely up to me.  I don’t wanna be a poopy head so I’ll do my best not to be.  Unless someone kisses me, then all bets are off.

Christmas Cards

I just joined Facebook, which is just one more way to completely eradicate the need for face-to-face contact with other people as well as further diminish the number of real letters and cards that are sent through the mail. Nothing comes through the mail anymore except circulars and Geico Insurance mailers. (Thank goodness for the number that you can call to stop credit card offers, or two of those per day would still be coming, as well.) With the invention of bill pay on-line, most of my bills don’t even come through the mail, any more.
But, this time of year is different. I love to go to the mailbox during the holidays. CHRISTMAS CARDS! During the month of December, I get an average of one card per day. The days when two or three come are the best. A card, a letter, a picture — a real, honest-to-goodness piece of mail that someone addressed, licked and stamped. For at least 20 seconds, I was on some one’s mind.
I am a Christmas card junkie and hoarder. All my Christmas cards are displayed on my fireplace mantle (and this year, this is the extent of our Christmas decorating). Each year, after Christmas, the cards are stowed away, and the pictures are placed in an album. I have Christmas pictures of all my friend’s children, their dogs / cats, their vacations, etc. in my photo albums. I do not toss away at the end of the holiday season — I save and cherish.
What is my fascination with Christmas cards? I’m not sure. And I don’t send out particularly great ones myself. I don’t include write-ups of what I’ve been doing the past 12 months (hint: working, sleeping, working, occasional trip, working) because there are usually no great dramas or milestones (thank You, Lord, for the lack of drama). This year was the first year that I sent out a “picture” Christmas card.
Yet I absolutely love getting Christmas cards from my family and friends. I love knowing that people were thinking of me, putting me on their “Best Wishes” list, going to the trouble in this day and age of instant messaging to find my address and addressing (ah, the tedium) an envelope. When I look at my mantle and the number of Christmas cards, it’s a visual reminder of the sheer number of people in my life that care for me and for whom I care.
I don’t suppose that most people know that when they send me a Christmas card they are saying more than “Happy Holidays”, “Merry Christmas & Happy New Year” — they are also saying “you are loved”. Back at you all.