Yesterday was Father’s Day. I didn’t call my dad. I thought about him a lot, though, and it was bittersweet, as most holidays are these days. Last month ticked off an entire year I haven’t spoken to either parent.
We’ve had periods of estrangement before, but this one has been the longest. There are a lot of reasons for it, some of which matter, some of which probably don’t anymore. But as I struggle with the guilt that comes with the recovering Catholic territory, I have found I’m learning valuable lessons on forgiveness.
I used to think forgiveness meant I had to suck it up, take whatever anyone felt like dishing out without question, and go back for more. I could never quite comprehend the idea of forgiving someone without actually being in their presence again, or telling them I’d forgiven them. And when I repeatedly completed this cycle, I never quite found the peace or happiness I’d been expecting–and most times, I’d be just as frustrated again soon after, when the subject of my generous forgiveness did something suspiciously similar to what I’d just “forgiven” them for.
Now I realize the concept is much different. I haven’t by any means mastered it yet, but I’m getting better at reconciling it. Forgiveness is for me, not them. It’s there to give me freedom, not give them absolution. If I forgive someone, they don’t even have to know about it. That’s a pretty big breakthrough. Now if I could just figure out how to do the actual forgiving part, I think I’ll be well on my way to healing.
I do hope my dad had a happy day yesterday. I’d like to think something was missing on his end, as it was on mine, but that’s something he needs to figure out. And maybe he has some forgiving to do as well.