For the last 12 hours or so, I’ve been struggling to process feelings that I haven’t had to deal with in years. In my last post, I related my experience of 9-11 and how it’s impacted my faith. This year, it’s almost like the wounds are fresh again, like the bandage was ripped off and that raw, sensitive flesh was exposed to the environment. Last night, while trying to write about it, I started about 4 or 5 different times only to abandon the attempt in disgust. I couldn’t concentrate and found myself avoiding writing completely. Normally, when I’m passionate about a topic, it won’t leave me alone; it nags at me until I get it out. So, when I run from one like I did last night, there’s a problem. I didn’t even realize I had a problem was until my girlfriend advised that she was pissed at me. Earlier, we’d been discussing plans for today and, without even thinking about it, I’d pretty much blown her off. Now, I’m not going to tell you I’m the greatest boyfriend who ever lived, but I usually do better than that. Things are beginning to come into focus, though.
All that happened 9 years ago, I thought, it hasn’t been this bad in years; why now? The first part of the answer to that question came last night. History Channel (yes, I’m a history geek) was running a show about 9-11 conspiracy theories and I’m always intrigued by that stuff. It’s like watching Jerry Springer or Maury Povich (two of my guilty pleasures, by the way); you know you shouldn’t look, but you just can’t help yourself. The more I watched these people try to make sense of a senseless act, the more uncomfortable I became. Eventually, I changed the channel to something stupid and silly on Comedy Central. After I realized I’d been kind of jerky to Diana (girlfriend), it began to dawn on me that I’d been immersed in references to the September 11th attacks for the last few months, what with the mosque issue and the Qur’an burning. Things have been much more “in your face” lately than in years past. They have for me, at least, so I’m sensitized to the issue. I’m also looking at it from a different perspective than I have in the past. A perspective of forgiveness.
I’ve been beating the forgiveness drum a lot, lately. Several times, I’ve mentioned in passing that I suck at forgiveness, but I’ve never gone into detail about it. Forgiving past hurts is damned hard. For me, sometimes it’s damned near impossible. Yesterday, I talked about how the people involved in 9-11 are my neighbors and are worthy of my love. But, at the same time, there are people in my life, people I know personally, who are also my neighbor and are worthy of that same love and I haven’t extended it to them. Number one is my ex-wife. Sometimes, it seems like we’re stuck in a rut dedicated to the destruction of each other. While I was at the Big Tent Christianity conference, one of the presenters said “Hurt people hurt people” and that’s exactly who we are and what we do. Somehow, I can find it in my heart to forgive religious fanatics who killed 3000 of my countrymen in fell swoop but I can’t find a way to forgive the mother of my children and climb out the pit of violence and despair that holds us both. Why is that?
This morning, I realized this is part of what’s bothering me. Sure, 9-11 still messes with my head, but my hypocrisy was eating at me too. I can’t fix the big problem, but I can do something about me. Today, I’m making a change. I know she doesn’t read this, but I’m saying it anyway. Pam, I forgive you for every action, perceived action or made-up bullshit that I’ve attributed to you and that’s caused me pain. I’m letting it go, all of it and replacing it with the love that Jesus encouraged us to feel for our neighbor. Because, just as surely as all those people I named as my neighbor yesterday, you are too.