Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Redeem the past

Had a long talk with my sister last night, you know, the wise elegant world-traveled one. (She doesn't like to be referred to as my "older" sister.) And you know how sometimes when you're talking to someone, especially someone who really knows you and loves you, things just start coming out? That's what happened to me last night.

Because it's on my mind with my own kids, I asked her how she was dealing with facing the mistakes she made as a parent. Her daughters are pretty much grown now, and she's the first of my siblings to have grown children—I'm the next. And I know she had worked through a lot of issues with them.

So she explained in the most humble way possible that once she began to look back and recognize that even though she was doing her best all along there are some things from her today perspective that she'd do differently, she immediately began to talk with her girls about those things and to actually apologize. And she allowed them to vent to her to get their feelings about those things out on the table.

This started several years ago. Now, as their relationships have adjusted to adulthood, they're all able to put all that stuff behind them and forge new relationships based on what they know as adults. And I've seen the transition—they are so strongly close now. My sister has not just daughters but good friends. The process my sister so selflessly initiated apparently allowed them to work through all their mom-related issues, and to then let them go.

This floored me, and frightened me. Maybe my own mistakes are too recent, or maybe I'm still in the self-justification stage, but I was blown away at the strength it would take to really examine all that I did that I would not do now. And there's a lot of it. My dear children who have had to forgive as we went—hearing from them that they too know I did things wrong I think would be very hard to face. The prospect of having that conversation, especially with my daughter, overwhelmed me.

My sister could tell I was upset, and she was soooo loving. And she went to, "Well, you can also approach it metaphysically," meaning with prayer. She reminded me of what we both believe—that our relationships are intact in divine Love, that we're all created by Love, and that the mistakes were sourced merely in our human limited view of Love. As our concept of Love grows, our mistakes will lessen. And we can actually go back and redeem the past with a clearer concept of Love now.

Redeeming the past. Boy, does that come up for me every year about this time. Do I have a clear enough concept of Love now to have the courage and strength to help my own children in whatever way they need to redeem the past? Can I stand tall through their probable honesty and possible blame as we face the issues together? Do I love enough to help them heal from my mistakes?

Today to me these questions are hard to answer. But I'm not one to wait around once a more loving course of action is presented to me. Stay tuned—I'll keep you posted.


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