Growing Up In A Mixed Marriage and Forgiveness- Part 2

Candy Preston“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.”     -Eckhart Tolle

Being Right Or Being Happy…Our Choice Do you believe that in every experience there is a gift, even if we have to use a magnifying glass to find it?  The Chinese have an interesting word for crisis that means both danger and  opportunity. It is one of those ambiguous words that positions you at the point of choice.

Chinese Word for Crisis
Chinese Word for Crisis

You can choose to respond to the situation from the perspective of fear and danger, or from the perspective that the challenge is an opportunity for you to respond in a way that will grow you into a greater awareness of who you truly are, and of who you are meant to be. In part one of this blog I shared some of the events leading up to my experience of emotional pain, my sense of betraying my dad, and the harsh unrelenting, unforgiving posture I had taken toward my mother. My understanding of forgiveness continues to expand as I evolve on my spiritual path, so that I now realize, ultimately there is nothing to forgive.

However, more than four decades ago my understanding of the  forgiveness paradigm was that in letting go of judgment and condemnation of the other person or circumstance, you are then able to receive forgiveness, which is true as far as it goes. Nevertheless, I did not find it easy to let go of my story. After alI, wasn’t I “right” and “justified”? Maybe. But in holding on to my anguished feelings of self-righteousness, I felt lost, and desperate to find my way back home to myself and to the awareness within of the Presence of God. I couldn’t find a way to do both. So, in a state of despair, I embraced the scripture, “Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” and became willing to at least try letting go and letting God, in order to hopefully once again experience inner peace and freedom.

Love is The Path

While I hadn’t acted on the lustful desires that had been consuming my being, my belief that even looking on another with desire as sinful–especially in the context of marriage–contributed to a heightened consciousness of shame, guilt, alienation and depression. As we know, it’s the nature of the ego to divide, to compare, and to promote a false sense of separation from others, from ourselves, and from God.  Entertaining for any length of time, feelings that circumstances, places and people have power over us, creates an experience of “disconnect” from what we know to be spiritual truth, that forgiveness is the far-reaching thread that binds together both love and relationships.

As spiritual beings having a human experience, we know that we are created out of love to express love. And as Martin Luther King writes, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” Since unforgiveness is like a cancer eating on your spirit and  soul, you might wonder why at times, we find it so difficult to forgive. For myself and in counseling others, I have discovered that when it seems impossible to forgive, the first brave and bold step to letting go, is to ask the universe for help to become willing.

Leaping into Unknown
Leaping into Unknown

Steps to Forgiveness

Surrender to willingness. The willingness to let divine love be expressed in us brings with it a torrent of grace, opening doors of possibility and support never before perceived or even imagined as possible. As I expressed in part one blog, sharing my shame and humiliation with my pastor’s wife and then my husband was the grace that gave me the strength and courage to take the next step.

Set an intention. Having no clue or conscious remembrance of what love for my mother felt like, my intention and affirmation was, “I am open, receptive, and responsive to the activity of the Spirit of Truth in me, revealing what I need to know and do.” I continually asked myself, “If I loved my mother, what would I do in this or that circumstance?”

To be continued….

In Part 3 and the conclusion to this particular experience, I will share the rest of the steps and the gifts and lessons learned. Meanwhile, please know that although more than 40 years have passed since this period of time that I am writing about, forgiveness is not necessarily a one time event.  Even as I am writing, I am continuing to experience expanded understanding and aha’s.  Thank you for sharing your views on forgiveness. This blog site is intended as a forum for going beyond right and wrong, black-and-white, into an energetic field of safety, love, compassion, acceptance and understanding. Your comments are  inspiring and welcomed.

Do you believe that the universe is friendly and conspires for your highest good? Do you view challenges/crisis as opportunities to learn lessons designed to promote spiritual growth? What is your perspective on challenges in your life, danger or opportunity? I would love to hear how you discovered going through a challenge, turned into an opportunity for learning and spiritual growth.

Please feel free to reply in the comment section below. If you find this blog likable please be the first of your friends to like and share it by clicking on one of the social media buttons below. You’re also welcome to follow and like me on my Face Book page.

LOL = Lots Of Love,

Candy

Growing Up In A Mixed Marriage and Forgiveness: Part 1

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was moreCandy Preston painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  -Anais Nin

Path of Forgiveness

How does one forgive when the pain of a  perceived wrong is felt so deeply in the heart that to forgive feels like you’re letting the other person off the hook? Is forgiveness  an acknowledgment that they were right in what ever they did that was painful to you? And how does one forgive when on some level underneath the pain there is a weird kind of sweetness experienced by holding onto the pain and the story? What if forgiveness is part of life’s curriculum and path that every one of us must walk in order to experience alignment with our true self? What if awakening to the realization that you are in charge of how you experience and react to people and events in your life is the path to joy and fulfillment? I was well into my 40s before I understood that we don’t see and experience the world as it is, but as we are, therefore, the disempowering “it” doesn’t change, until we change..

I grew up in a mixed marriage family. Not mixed racially, but mixed religiously. My father whom I  saw as perfect from my childlike perspective, was raised in a family fundamental in their religious beliefs and traditions.  For the most part he adhered to and attempted to impose those beliefs upon the family. Except for the strictness of his religious beliefs, I experienced my father,  as a gentle, kind, lover of his family, highly respected in his church, profession and community.

My free spirited mother on the other hand, as a fugitive from her religious upbringing which she had  experienced as critical and harsh, was having none of it for herself. While she respected my dad’s wishes for us to attend Sunday school and church activities, she was fierce about not wanting us to be brought up in a restrictive religious environment where activities like movies and tap dancing  were considered to be sinful. As a result, we were allowed to secretly participate in activities that my dad would have disapproved of, had he known. In fact, at 10 years old, the worst and last whipping I ever got from my dad was when he arrived home from work and caught me tap dancing on the front porch.

Keeper of the Secrets

See, hear, speak no evil monkeys
See, hear, speak no evil monkeys

As early as my preteen years I became the primary keeper of the family secrets. Because I was the oldest of my three siblings, I was often used as the pawn by my mom to get out of the house.   I would be dropped off at a movie theater, while she and her friends went off to party. I often sat through movies waiting to be picked up. While dad never questioned me, as the keeper of the secret, I was fearful and conflicted facing him, knowing he would question mom about where we had been.

During World War II, dad moved us to a small desert town where the dry desert climate was more conducive to my brother and sister’s health, both of whom had asthma. Dad stayed in Los Angeles where he was gainfully employed, but managed to visit us on a fairly regular basis . As a mature looking  teenager  I was able to attend nightclubs with mom, and do most of the things that adults could do—drink, smoke, etc., without being questioned by management.  By this time, it felt normal to hide secrets from my dad.

Conflicted Emotions
Conflicted Emotions

I enjoyed the freedom allowed by my mom, yet my sense of betrayal of my dad became unbearable, and I grew to bitterly resent my mother. I vowed when I got married I would know how to treat my husband; I would be loyal, trustworthy loving, and most importantly, I would be  respectful of our relationship. As a result, the harsh judgment and bitter, critical attitude that I held toward my mother created an emotional alienation in our relationship that extended well into my adult years and later marriage.

What Wants To Heal Is Revealed

I was torn apart when the dissonance between my young declaration of fidelity to my marriage and the thoughts and feelings that were propelling  me toward behaviors that totally contradicted everything that I had valued as truth. Even though I hadn’t acted on my desires, I became my own judge,  jury, and executioner.  The ideal picture I had held in my mind of how I would be the perfect wife, faithful to my husband was being shattered.  Maya Angelou, author, poet, put my need for change this way, “The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.”  My self image as a virtuous woman/wife was being crushed to the ground. The answers to my anguished prayers  of “Why me, Lord,” came back as “Why not you. Who do you think you are?” I realized that I had been asking the wrong question. As Charles Fillmore, cofounder of Unity writes, “The question is not “How guilty is that man,” but “How do I stand in the sight of the Father as to my ideas about his guilt?  Reform yourself first.” In order to forgive and free myself, I needed to free my mother from the judgments that I had held against her. The journey out of this distressing situation that I had been struggling with, began very slowly.

Forgiveness and Healing Process Begins

Toddler Shoes
Toddler ShoesBeginning Healing Process

In order to free myself, I first shared my conflicted, troubled emotions and frame of mind with my pastor’s wife .  Second, I then found the courage to share with my husband the conflicting feelings I had been experiencing. Those initial actions began the step-by-step path toward forgiveness and freedom for me, and an improved relationship with my mom. The openness of communication in both instances, created a spaciousness that allowed reconnection with my husband.  It motivated us to embark on a path of consciously reestablishing the loving relationship that we both envisioned and yearned for.

To be continued…

I plan to publish part two of this post within the next week or so, sharing my evolving understanding of forgiveness . Meanwhile, I started this post with questions and I want to leave you with questions to consider.  Is it true forgiveness, if you are unable to forget?  What if by holding on to unforgiveness you give negativity and self-imposed emotional imprisonment power over your life? On the other hand, what if by choosing the path of forgiveness you empower yourself to experience a life of joy, freedom and fulfillment?  And, more importantly, what if as you mature you realize that ultimately there was nothing to forgive?  Is this what Jesus means when he says “to forgive 7 xs 70?”

Please feel free to reply in the comment section below. If you find this blog likable please be the first of your friends to like and share it by clicking on one of the social media buttons below. You’re also welcome to follow and like me on my Face Book page.

LOL = Lots Of Love,

Candy