May 26, 2013

A Meeting in Three Parts: Part One, Forgiveness

Ever since I arrived in my new community, I have attended a particular Al-anon meeting, one that I know follows the approved meeting guidelines.  

When DH went out of town for five days, I found myself in the midst of a clash on a list serve in another program. I thought I was trying to reason things out with someone there, in a private email, sent with the best of intents, and this person simply write me off.

I  was told not to email her again. Period. 

I hurt so much,  I knew I needed face-to-face contact. But I had a time conflict and could not attend my usual cross-talk-free meeting.  So,  I chose to attend the "other" meeting in Alanon, 

I arrived in pain, praying that I, with my ideas of how a meeting "should" look, not  end up offending others, by asking that no one cross-talk my share. Please?

By God's grace, I never had to ask for special treatment.  My heart was open, and I was listening so closely to the leader's voice, that  I stayed close to tears the entire meeting.

The person leading that night, was a relative newcomer to Alanon. She had humility and grace.  I arrived after she decided to start the meeting on the topic of forgiveness.  As she read the words I am about to share,  I came to realize it was forgiveness I was hoping for from the person I had clashed with online.   

{Before Program,] forgiveness meant power to me.  I could judge the offender--the person who wasn't doing what I wanted--and then exercise my power by showing that I could rise above the offense and magnanimously bestow forgiveness. But I would never forget what had been done.

Today I know that forgiveness has nothing to do with power. It does not give me control. Forgiveness is simply a reminder that I am on equal footing with every other child of God. We all do good and noble things at times; on other occasions we may offend. I have no right to judge, punish, or to absolve anyone. When I behave self-righteously, I am the one who suffers--I separate myself from my fellow human beings, focus on others, and keep busy with hateful and negative thoughts. By taking this attitude I tell myself that I am a victim, so I remain a victim. The most forgiving thing I can do is to remember that my job is not to judge others, but to think and behave in a way that makes me feel good.

Today's Reminder

I don't know the motives or circumstances that cause another's behavior. I do know that when I hold on to resentments and blame, I occupy my spirit with bitterness. Today I will find a more nurturing way to fill myself up.

"You can't hold a man down without staying down with him." Booker T. Washington 

(3/15 Courage to Change)

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