Usually I title these posts using the word “miracle.” I don’t mean to imply that this one isn’t a miracle in my world. However, I watched something happen in someone else’s world this evening and I can’t assume that it was a miracle for her. It was, however, an incredibly beautiful thing for me to witness.
I spoke tonight at a local chapter of Altrusa, a civic organization made up of business women that does a lot of wonderful charity and community support work. I was there to give a motivational talk about ensuring that you take care of yourself when you’re in the midst of supporting and caring for others. As a part of my talk, I mentioned some of the messages that I’d heard about my body from my father while I was growing up (chief among them – “If you don’t have pretty legs, boys won’t like you!”) I talked about how I used those old voices to continue to torture myself as an adult, and then about some tools that we can use to quiet those old voices.
After the talk, a woman came up to me with pain and grief written across her face. In a quiet voice, she asked, “It sounds from your talk like you forgave your father, but I don’t understand how. How can you forgive those things? Everything I read tells me that I’m supposed to forgive my parents, but I don’t think I can do it.”
It took a few minutes of talking for me to hear the disconnect clearly enough to be able to address it. Finally I said to her, “You don’t have to forgive your parents for what they did – the words they said to you were cruel and that’s not okay. But you can forgive them for not knowing any better. They were doing the best they could. Unfortunately it wasn’t as good as you’d want it to be, but they were doing the best they knew how.”
Her whole face changed. The look of misery dropped for a moment and I saw a flash of understanding and peace that was so beautiful it took my breath away.
I hold no illusions that I was the cause of her shift, nor that her life has changed completely. She was ready and available to hear what she needed to hear in that moment, so she’s the one who did the work. And it will require more work on her part to integrate what she heard and understood tonight. But that first moment of clarity and understanding is EXACTLY why I do what I do.
It gives me such joy to see that moment when the facade drops away and the naked soul is visible for a moment. It happens periodically in my workshops, and those are the moments that I keep returning to as my touchstones.
I’m so grateful to have had another of those moments tonight.