Ever get that feeling of anger when a past person/event is brought forward and you were the victim of the person/event? And that original anger or hurt re-plays itself as if the person/event was happening now? Well then, booby, that is unfinished business, un-dealt-with pain and resentment. Happens. Happens to a lot of us.
When I think of Sister Mary Roseina back in third grade who told me I was, and I quote verbatim, “You are a stupid little boy and won’t amount to much” I get hurt then angry all over again. THIRD FREAKIN’ GRADE for God’s sake! Am I punishing her decades later by getting angry at her now? (I’ve gotten over it, that’s why I can remember her words verbatim…yeh..it’s over) I don’t know if I’m punishing her. I do know is she still owns my feelings and me, today, as I am writing this thing. Is that a good thing? Probably…NOT. What I am doing is giving her (and at last check she is still alive although she is 475 years old), I am giving her more power than she deserves. I am doing that! I am keeping that remark alive and well in my mind. Yes, I am a dope. I could be using that energy to clean out the garage…well…maybe clean out my closet (I have energy but not THAT much energy).
So what am I to do since I cannot physically show mercy to a nun who was not merciful to me? I don’t want to go down the road of trying to psychologically explain away her behavior. That is just taking care of the head and what I really need to do is take care of the heart where the strong feelings hang out, feelings like love and hate. Well, in the spirit of the Beatitude “Blessed are the merciful for they shall have mercy shown them” perhaps I need to start letting go of those feelings of hurt and anger. Trying to forgive, without strings attached, the words of that nun who’s voice still rings in my noggin. Does she deserve my forgiveness? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Some might say, of course it is the other way around. Why should I forgive her and show her mercy, she’s the one who caused the pain. So what’s the payoff for not showing her mercy and forgiveness? I still get angry and she hasn’t a clue that more than a half-century has passed her words still affect me. But, when I begin to feel anger towards her, perhaps it is me that needs to make the first move, to forgive. As I said above, I don’t know what was in her mind when she told me those words long ago and frankly I don’t care. What I do care about is putting to bed the feelings I have every time I think about her. It isn’t worth it. I am not a wimp for wanting to live a full and productive life…and grudges can eventually kill, if not the body, then certainly the spirit.
Mercy. For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13) That’s what James says in his letter. The judgment I have place upon her and the judgment I have placed on myself needs healing. During these days of Lent leading up to the great feast of Easter, I reflect on what is keeping me from becoming my authentic self and of moving forward with the Spirit’s whisperings. The tugging I feel based on past actions done to me or I have done, without the ability of forgiveness, makes me retarded. I am stuck. Today, I ask myself, “Where do I need to show mercy?” to others and to myself. What about you? Just something to think about today…
Blessed are the Merciful