I was reading a chapter in Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist during my lunch break on Thursday, when I read her thoughts on forgiveness and forgetting. I'm not going to quote it here, because really you should go buy her book (like really, get in your car and drive to Barnes and Noble, okay?). But the jist of what I read was that her husband and her continued to bring up the past, even though in those moments they had forgiven, they just couldn't let it go and forget. The past and the hurt, from an array of different moments in their relationship, lingered. (And I know we've all been there). So one day, when they were on a day trip, they decided to leave all that they held onto and all they couldn't forget in that town they were visiting. They let it go, never to be hashed again. They dropped the past, in that town, and did it as a way to move on and not let i continue to linger.
The thing that happened while reading what Shauna wrote about forgiving yet having the hardest time forgetting, was my heart's continual beating "me too, me too." There is this deep sadness that comes up every now again in my soul, and I can't help but relate it to this difficulty I have forgetting hurt. Not the little things, but the monumental things that have taken me years to process. I have a really hard time talking about it, let alone writing about it, and I always wonder why that is. Am I afraid that no one will understand? Am I worried that my lingering hurt and inability to "let go" will make it seem as though I haven't been able to forgive? Am I afraid that this sadness that comes up every now and again, if I show it as true as it is to the people who are closest to me, that it will make me out as too sensitive and push those people away? Yes. On all fronts.
But I think its time I stop letting fear and worry get in the way. I think it's time I write about it.
When I was about 12 years old my dad remarried. I had a stepmom, a stepbrother, and a stepsister all the way from those preteen years and through college. I loved them so much, and although my adolescent nature probably made it seem otherwise, I truly did. The last time I saw my stepmom, stepbrother, and stepsister was when I was 23 years old. Matt and I were telling them about our wedding. We were sitting in the living room and talking about all the beginning plans of being newly engaged. I wanted all of them to be a part of our day. I had no idea I would never see them again. I don't really know how much time passed. It was summer or spring, a few weeks after we sat on that couch with them, and I received an email from my dad saying that they were divorcing. I didn't really know why, and its all a blur truly, but I never saw them again. I can't imagine the hurt that they all went through. My stepsister, ten years younger than me, also never seeing me again? A family of 12 years just vanishing? I wanted to just reach out and hug her and say how much I love her, you know? But I couldn't, and I still haven't, and those are the moments that bring true sadness up from my soul to the water wells of my eyes. Or to tell my stepmom (which has got to be the hardest role in all of it - being the stepmother of a teenage girl), how beautifully and respectfully she took on her relationship with me But I never got to say those things, and I never really knew the reasons because I never had any in person conversation with anyone about what had happened. I never said goodbye or see you later to the family that I knew to be mine. It was like I was supposed to pretend those 12 years of my life didn't exist. Soon after Matt and I got married my dad started to also get distant and now here I am at age 28 and it's been three years since I've heard my dad's voice. And all for reasons I cannot even say. This is where the deep sadness comes in again. I start to think of these four individuals, and my heart feels a void. It feels hurt and confusion. Heavy. I ask, why did this happen? I miss them, and get caught in moments where I'm cleaning out old boxes and seeing photographs from our trip up the coast to Pismo, burying each other in the sand, or the entire childhood memories with my dad and the daily reminders that we have so much in common- our love for art, and thrifting, and hats. Or I'll want to just call him and tell him about that thing, or ask him about that memory - but I can't. And I never truly know the answer, except for the truth that we live in a broken world with hurt and sadness, and that things like this happen, and that this is why we have a Savior.
Something life has taught me is that holding on hurts one person more than anyone else. Yourself. So like Shauna wrote in that chapter in Bittersweet, I want to leave behind these things that still make me deeply sad that I have had the hardest time forgetting. I want to leave behind the question "why?" and the ache from not having answers. I want to hold on to the good out of those years and on to the hope that God is in control and that he has a plan so much bigger than mine. That all of this, in all of this muck, there is light. I know that I've forgiven - myself, my dad. Yet the sensitive human that I am holds on to pieces of the past. It's like if I let them go I will forget entirely those people that used to be in my life - the people that I still love. But I won't. God won't let that happen.
If you're sitting there with your heart beating "me too, me too," I hope that we can both take the leap to let it go. Whatever it is for you, and this for me: Let's find a place to leave it, and not let it linger anymore. Maybe in a prairie, maybe up high on a hill, or maybe just right there at your computer or in a journal. Let's leave it. Because I don't want life to have too many moments of deep sadness from the past, when there is so much joy in the present to be had, you know?