Posts tagged ‘forgiveness’

September 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Collisions

We have been writing this blog, weekly, since March of this year and there have been two posts that God has told me to write that I didn’t want to. One of those posts was about me giving someone the bird on the way to church (click here to read about that) and the other is this blog post. God likes to stick His finger in the yucky bits of my life and expose my shame so that I can get healing and others who read it can too. In the process of writing and editing and rewriting I find that God steps into my situation and He redeems and reconciles the whole darn tooting mess for His Glory and my freedom. I hope that is where we are going today.

Soooo….here is my secret. While driving to work, a couple of weeks ago, I took my usual shortcut through some narrow back streets.  I was getting over to the left to give an oncoming car more room and I accidentally knocked the side mirror of a parked car but I just kept on driving. Part of me panicked and part of me didn’t really know what had happened as I had been so focused on watching the other car pass on my right I didn’t see what I hit on my left. When I stopped at a set of lights I noticed my side mirror had closed and the mirror part was falling out.  For days and weeks I have wrestled with what to do. The car I hit could have been one of three cars that are parked there every morning. I have no idea which car it is. None of them appear to have any damage but I haven’t had the courage to stop and have a closer look.

I didn’t feel right about it. I had no peace about it. I wanted to make things right but I had no idea how to do that.  Was I put a note on all three cars – ‘Hi there…I might have hit your car mirror a few weeks ago but I drove off but now I want to make things right. Here are my details – call me.’ Am I being pathetic by wanting to ‘make things right’? What does that even look like now, three weeks later? Do I need to just let it go? Is there anything to be gained? In the end I got so confused that I prayed and asked God to help me ‘make it right.’ That very same day I left work and parked my car at the shops and I went to pick my daughter up from school. We went to the shops after that. When I returned to my car 45 minutes later there was a note on the driver’s side window. Someone had ‘scraped’ the rear end bumper of my white car leaving copious amounts of blue paint behind. A lady having coffee witnessed the whole thing and left me a note with her phone number, the license plate number of the car and its make and model.

When I arrived home I phoned the witness. She told me the driver was a young lady – a P-plater. Apparently after she scraped my car she got out of her car, had a look at mine, quickly got back in, and drove off. I phoned my insurance company and was advised to physically go to the Police Station to retrieve the other driver’s details with the rego number. From the moment it happened I couldn’t help but think of my prayer that morning to God – ‘to make things right’. I went to the Police Station and learnt that ‘my witness’ (God Bless her) had recorded the wrong license plate details. I was so relieved because by this point I didn’t want to do anything about the car. I saw this terrified young female P-plater getting a call from the police and freaking out. I didn’t want that for her. Her conscience would bother her enough as mine had.

What I’ve realised is that there are people that we have wronged and for whatever reason may not able to make it right with them because they are no longer part of our lives. It might be because of death, distance or broken relationship. There are people who will never hear my request for forgiveness, know my remorse or hear my suggested restitution. The reverse is also true – there are people who have wronged me that will never be able to ask for my forgiveness. How do we ‘make things right’ in these circumstances? God knows the heart of every soul and has the authority and power to extend forgiveness to us even when we can’t make amends directly. I can’t explain it but I feel like my account with the car I hit is settled. I feel as if my prayer ‘to makes things right’ is done and complete. By asking forgiveness for what I did and offering forgiveness for what was done to me, I feel like I put both situations into God’s hands and He has ripped the debts up.

All is well with my soul. Peace rules again. Yay.

Over and Out,

Catherine xox

August 1, 2012

Sticks and Stones Will break your Bones

Poppy and I visited a new park near our house a number of years ago.  One of this park’s feature pieces of equipment is a large swing that hangs down from three metal poles that stand in a tee-pee formation. The swing itself is a very heavy saucer-shaped basket. Three or four kids can lie down in it. You sort of push it up and out and it adopts a very unpredictable orbital trajectory. I had Poppy and two of my friend’s kids in the basket happily swinging away. In my peripheral vision I noticed some movement. When I looked I could see a boy aged about 3 running toward the swing. His mum was jogging slowly behind him well within reach. At any moment she could speed up and stop him which I thought she would, but she didn’t. He just got closer and closer to the swing. It dawned on me that the mother was not going to stop him from running into the path of the swing.  Being hit by the heavy metal and plastic basket with three kids in it would be the equivlant of being hit by a slow moving car.

While all of this seemed to unfold slowly those last few seconds seem to go so fast. As the little boy was about to run into the path of the swing I jumped in front of it and tried to stop it from hitting him. I succeeded but in the process my little finger on my right hand was snapped backwards by the swing. I turned to the mother of the boy and said ‘why didn’t you stop your child? I’ve broken my finger saving him from being hit.’ Incredibly she responded with ‘it’s just dislocated’. Before I could argue with her I realised I was in a great deal of pain. I went to my friend and we both decided it was worth going to the nearby doctor’s office. I got in the car and drove there but it was closed. By now I was in so much pain I was screaming and crying with every move of my hand.

Blinded by pain I drove on to the hospital.  Forever the Scrooge when it comes to paying for parking I couldn’t bear to park in the hospital parking so I drove around looking for a spot. Luckily I got one quickly. Thank God I left Poppy with my friend as I was screaming so much and so loudly it would have scared her.

Upon arrival at the emergency department I was ‘triaged’ to the top of the list, that is I got in immediately. I was offered happy gas which I quickly accepted. I loved it. I made a number of very funny stoner calls. By the time the doctors tried to pull my dislocated finger back in to place, which failed miserably, the discovery was made by x-ray that the bone had been diagonally snapped into two pieces. I had surgery to put a pin in to hold the two pieces in place while it healed.

Recovery was slow and small. To this day I have an obviously crooked little finger but the greater injury was to my spirit. For many months following the accident I struggled with intense feelings of hatred toward the woman at the park. I hated her neglect, her misjudgment, her blasé attitude to my person. I hated her ignorance, her understated diagnosis. I hated that she didn’t care and I hated that she didn’t know what I had done for her son. I hated that I could never yell at her and make her apologise for her stupidity.

I wanted someone to pay. I wanted to blame and shame someone for what happened.  The whole thing was eating me up. I replayed the event in my mind continually, always ending up in the same place – angry and resentful. It took me longer than it should’ve but I finally chose to forgive the woman, not that she knew. I often wonder if she ever even thought of me again.

No one is immune to these things. We are all vulnerable to pain whether it be physical, emotional, verbal or sexual. We all have a choice to harbour the offence or forgive. My hatred became a prison. I became chained to the offender and the offence reliving the event over and over. When I finally forgave her I got out of jail. I was free. Forgiveness is never about the other person – it’s all about you. I know this is the second time I have beat the drum of forgiveness in a blog post but I dare say I’ll need to beat it again – not for your sake but for my own.

Over and Out,

Catherine xoxo

May 23, 2012

My ‘Dr Phil’ moment

My high school years were lonely and difficult. I was horribly ostracized when I stole a $100 from a teacher in Year 8. I was caught and those that had ‘helped’ me spend the money (who had no idea it was thieved) were also punished. I was labelled a ‘dobber’ and my peers let me have it.  I had no friends for a while and I remember once when we had to pair up in science to do an experiment the teacher let me do it alone because no one would partner with me. I was a social leper and when someone broke the rules and was nice to me they were also inflicted with social leprosy. Others picked up the offence of those that had been unwittingly implicated in my crime and I was teased, bullied and tormented from the minute I got to the train station in the morning till the minute I got off the bus on the way home. It was relentless.

At the start of every new term we had school assembly and during the announcements one term the Vice Principal, who was a cruel woman, got up and as the room grew quiet she seemed to shout out my name, demanding I come to the office immediately following the assembly. I was shaking in my boots. It was the first day of term, what could I have done already? It was the custom of the teachers at our school to wear long black graduating cloaks over their civilian clothes. The Vice Principal was a short woman and her most distinguishing feature was that she walked like a chicken. Her little head would stick up out of the black cloak and bobble back and forward as she walked. She had a sharp tongue and I remember her ruling French class with an iron fist. Most students were terrified of her, including me. I got to her office and I was paralysed with fear as I waited outside.

I was finally summoned into her office. She started peppering me with questions about my whereabouts the previous Saturday night. I had been at home with my parents watching Magnum PI. She started asking me questions about where the phones were in my house and what time I went to bed and where was my parent’s bedroom in relation to mine and so on. I had no idea what she was on about. Finally she told me the story. On Saturday night someone had prank called her but instead of getting her they had called her parents and at the end of the call they said that they were me. I secretly smiled to myself. I suddenly changed tact. Up until now I had been acting innocently but now I began to act guilty. I started being evasive, looking down at the floor and nervously fumbling with a tissue. I played her hard. The more guilty I acted the more power my ‘pretend fear’ seemed to give her. She was after blood and she was going to get it.

She was so fully convinced of my guilt that she called my parents. I begged her not to call them and eluded to not knowing where they were when I knew all along my mum was at home. I knew if she talked to my mum or dad they could and would easily be able to defend me. The nearest phone to my room was either in their bedroom or downstairs in the kitchen. The stairs in my house were ‘haunted house’ creaky and located right next to my parents room. There was no way I could’ve snuck by their room and gone downstairs to make a prank call. (Mobile phones didn’t exist yet, pause for shock horror). When she got a hold of my mum and began to explain the situation my face lit up with a massive Cheshire cat smile and I sat up straight crossing my arms in a victory – like stance. I watched her intently enjoying every minute of her smug face becoming undone. Once she hung up, I took my moment of victory. I stood up and in a loud, proud voice said this ‘Miss Smith* if I was ever going  to prank call you, I’d do two things –  firstly I would get the right number and secondly I WOULDN’T LEAVE MY NAME!’ and at that I walked triumphantly out of her office. I half expected for her to call me back in but she was so utterly defeated I never had another run in with her again my whole time at that school.

The most unfortunate thing was I was so unpopular I didn’t have anyone to share my victory with. No matter, I held the moment precious but I would often wonder who did make that phone call. It was a least a decade or more later that I found out. It ended up being one of the friends that I had implicated into spending the ‘stolen money’. She and I had reconciled in Year 11 and we’re still friends to this day. In fact we’re close friends. She’d always assumed that I knew it was her that had done it and one day I was re-telling the story in front of her and she confessed to being the caller.  We had a massive laugh and marvelled at how things had come full circle for us.

During my fourth pregnancy in 2006, the only one to result in a live child, I spent four months on bed rest in the hospital. I watched Dr Phil everyday. I haven’t been able to watch another episode since. I often say that ‘I had my fill of Dr Phil’. The following year, 2007, I had my 20 year high school reunion. I was part of a group of four that attended together.

There were a couple of girls that I wanted to have a ‘Dr Phil’ moment with.  I spied one of the girls that made my life hell during those years. I made sure that when we got to the restaurant after the reunion that I sat opposite her. She took the centre chair on one side of the table and me on the other. I waited patiently for my moment and finally it came. The people on either side of her and me were talking to others. She almost jumped when I leaned in across the table to talk quietly with her. Nothing had changed, she gave me a leprous look like who was I to be even talking to her. I forged on. I said ‘I have a question for you. In high school you made my life miserable. You bullied me for years. You hated me and you incited others to do the same. Tell me Karen* – what did I ever do to you?’ She was dumbstruck. I was not her victim anymore and I was not afraid of her. She replied ‘nothing, you did nothing to me.’ I said ‘why Karen….why did you treat me so badly then?’ and at that she broke down – she told me she was sorry for what she did to me and that years later when her sister suffered a similar experience that she understood what it felt like. She said she was trying to teach her two daughters a better way of treating people. I got more than I bargained for that day and I probably hadn’t really, truly been able to forgive her till that moment.

Many of us would like to have a “Dr Phil’ moment with some of our primary or high school tormenters. Or maybe you were the bully or the mean girl. I certainly was in primary school – which is a whole other Blog post. Either way it is a lose/lose situation. There are no winners. The only winner is forgiveness. One of Dr Phil’s key saying’s was ‘Somebody needs to stand up and be the hero’. You may never have the luxury of confronting the person that hurt you but be the hero in your heart.

Have your Dr Phil moment – have it right now. Don’t let this opportunity go by. Just do it. Become the winner, it’s not about them anymore. Just stand up in your own heart and forgive them for what they did to you. Let it go – it’s a ‘lose’ for you. Break the chains that have bound you to the offence and the offender by forgiving them. If you were the perpetrator and not the victim then just put it out there. Say aloud, ‘I do now ask blah blah to forgive me for what I did to them. I’m sorry that I hurt them by doing or saying blah blah. It may seem stupid to do this but our words hold the power of life and death in them and I guarantee you something will change in your heart because of it. You’ll break free from the prison of resentment and fear or guilt that has encased you. The pain that you have carried all these years will finally begin to heal. Time, on its own heals nothing but forgiveness can heal the deepest of wounds. Be the hero today. There is no better time then right now.

If you need help doing this or you just need to talk it through. You can privately email me on:

blogsidebyside@gmail.com.

Over and Out,

Catherine xo

All names with an asterik * have been changed

May 2, 2012

The Blue Stocking Saga

Of all the blog posts thus far the statistics tell us that the most read one has been “My name is Catherine and I am fat’ followed by ‘The secrets we keep’. Clearly my failings are ‘helping’ others to live better lives or have a good laugh. If you liked both of those two previous blog posts then you’ll love this one as well.

I wish I could say that this happened a couple of years ago but alas it was just this morning. John had to leave for work early so I was all hands on deck for the feverish rush to get ready for school. We were only a little behind schedule when I suddenly remember its school photo day. In the middle of getting Poppy dressed, making her lunch, getting her breakfast and getting myself ready I have to find the ‘school photo’ form. As I lay my hands on the form I remember that my credit card expired on April 30th and its May 2nd and I need to phone and activate my new credit card. I go looking for my handbag to get my purse but I can’t find it anywhere but when I go upstairs to grab Poppy’s blue school stockings I spy it on the bedroom floor. Yay!! I phone the credit card company and of course get transferred to another department and all the time my stress level is rising. Finally the credit card is activated and I fill out the photo order form. Then I realise I have no fruit for her lunch. Who cares I think to myself. I pop a fruit puree thingy in her lunchbox instead. Poppy tells me I can’t do that because it’s not considered to be real fruit, ugggghhhhhh.

I then attempt to put on her school stockings but she hates them, I wonder if this is a genetic thing because I hated them too when I was a kid. She’s pulling them out of her butt and she keeps telling me they feel funny in her shoes so the shoes come off and on and off and on and off and on again as she tries to perfectly position her stocking so it doesn’t annoy her. Somehow through this process I am remain calm but she’s starting to lose it.

Anyway the whole stocking thing becomes a nightmare. The whinging and sighing continue and finally I can’t take it anymore and with more dramatic flair than Paris Hilton I snap, crackle and pop!  I totally ‘feralized’, that is morphed into some hideous out of control, irrational monster.  I rip the stockings off her body yelling ‘right that’s it!! No more stockings. I don’t care if you freeze this winter, I don’t care if you beg me to wear these stockings you will never, ever, ever wear them again!!’ I am now on the way to the kitchen to grab the biggest pair of scissors we’ve got and I cut the stockings up in front of her and then rip them to shreds with my hands. Not my proudest moment as a mother but just a tiny bit satisfying.

We both go quiet. She starts to cry because she can sense the worst is over and her tears are of release and relief. I watch her cry these big gloppy tears that begin to stain her little face, and in that moment I imagine viewing her first ever set of school photo’s in a couple of weeks . They will probably capture this sad little orphan Annie face with the red rimmed eyes and immortalize for the next 50 years a special piece of mothers guilt labelled the ‘blue stocking saga of 2012’ just for me. Perfect.

After a while I ask her if she is upset about the stockings and she admits with a big smile that she thought that the cutting and shredding part was great though she didn’t really like the yelling part and she admits she was a bit scared. I cup her face in my hands and apologise for yelling and scaring her. We hug and I kiss her tears away and off we go to school.

During the day I have to buy a present for a baby so I am in an out of kid shops for hours. I do quite a bit of ‘stranger confession’ in the check out line ups and everyone finds my story hilarious. I even try it on a mum at school pick up and she laughs too. Not in judgement but in understanding. I feel better.

One of the biggest tenants of the Christian faith is forgiveness and while we are constantly reminded to understand, grasp and model forgiveness towards others and to ask God for forgiveness ourselves, no one really tells you that sometimes you need to forgive yourself. Poppy had forgiven me and I’d asked God too but I struggled to stop flagellating myself.  All day I kept it up.

Forgiving yourself is critical for you and for those that do life around you simply because ‘hurting people hurt others.’ The longer you avoid forgiving yourself, the longer you allow yourself to dwell on the feelings of guilt, self-disappointment and failure. You become your own judge, jury and executioner and you impose on yourself a degree of suffering for what you did. This then causes you to feel even worse which will possibly result in another explosion or implosion depending on your personality and preference.

The reality is that you cannot change what has happened. You cannot restore lives to where they were before the event. The only choice you have is over what you do next. You can either choose is to be restored or to re-offend.

So just please just forgive yourself already, I finally have, it is only then your healing can begin.

Over and Out,

Catherine xo

April 4, 2012

The Secrets we Keep

This is a true story. John, myself and our 5 year old daughter were on the way to church this week.  We were all singing along to Poppy’s favourite Christian CD. This was a beautiful Kodak family moment. Suddenly the sound of a siren pierced the cabin of the car. An ambulance was fast approaching from behind. John was driving and we were in the right hand lane. Beside us in the left hand lane there were two cars, one just a bit ahead of us and one just a little behind. There was just barely a car length between them. We couldn’t get over. The gap between the two cars seemed to get smaller rather than make room to let us in.  With the ambulance almost on top of us, I wound my window down. I was furious. I was going to wave or do something to let them know we needed to get in but what happened was something completely different. I put my arm out the window and I angrily ‘flipped the bird’* at the car behind. Quickly the gap widened and room was made for us to get over. We changed lanes and the ambulance whizzed by.

Have an honest moment with yourself – have you judged me yet?  What were you thinking while you read my story? Maybe you thought ‘I can’t believe she did that’ or ‘I would never do that’ or ‘that’s so bad’. Maybe you’re a little shocked at what I did. You might be a bit disgusted or disappointed with me. Maybe you see me in a whole new light now.

I promised in my first Blog post that I was prepared to smash my mask and be more real. Normally I wouldn’t tell anybody about what happened and I feel like I’ve risked being stoned by being honest about my failings. It’s so much easier to throw a stone at me than to unmask the hypocrisy of your own heart.

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left.

When I ‘pass judgement’ on someone else I fool myself into thinking  that I am doing something spiritual but in reality, I’ve engaged in the most sinful of all worldly pursuits…I’ve started to play God. For He alone is truly able to judge the thoughts and intent of our hearts. Ohhhh, the hideous nature of self-righteousness, pride and ultimately condemnation is so disgustingly confronting.

I was ashamed of what I did that day. I was and am so aware of my deep imperfections but thankfully Jesus is still using imperfect people, even me.

Have you been able to let go of ‘your judgement of my failure’ yet?

If you have been able to, you’ll have probably given yourself a little Christian pat on the back thinking you’ve done me a favour. Here’s the truth – it was actually for your sake that you dealt with your judgement of me not mine. Why? Because Jesus and I already had it all sorted on Sunday and your thoughts about what I did held no sway in His forgiveness of me – at all. But thanks anyway.

Over and Out

Catherine xoxo

* this is considered to be a rude and offensive hand gesture

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