by Alberta Parish
Returning to the place of my adolescence where my character was birthed and developed was indeed the furthest thing from my mind for three and a half years, that is, until my moment of clarity. It was only within that moment when I knew that life is fleeting, and I may not have much time left in the world to make things right with those whom I love. This was the moment of truth as I inner reflected and pondered on life, and how much life had changed me.
On a recent Saturday for the first time in nearly two years, my sister and I had a decent conversation, which was long overdue. On Sunday, I joined her at church. Although I was glad to be there, I was unable to enjoy the full experience of it because sadness had overwhelmed me.
As I listened to the pastor deliver her message, past memories of old experiences acquired throughout my early years were revisited, and immediately I was reminded of the person I used to be. Observing from outside of my head inwardly, I felt remorse and shame for every syllable uttered in my own bitterness and unforgiveness during my three and a half year absence. The same people I turned my back on years ago were still present and working diligently. Each member was exactly the same as I had left them. Even the pastor looked the same. Everyone was the same as I last remembered them, and I felt self-conscious that everyone remained the same… everyone except me. I noticed how the pastor peered up at me while I sat in the church balcony. I tried to look away and pretend I didn’t see her piercing eyes glaring right at me. Yet, it was in this moment when I felt no animosity between us. I only felt complete admiration, and knew that I was forgiven although it had taken years for me to forgive them. Intuitively, I recognized that it was necessary for me to leave and experience life even when it meant cutting past ties in my rejection of the Church and by extension, ending relationships prematurely.
Even so, several old time members extending back to the days when the church was in its infancy were very pleased to see me. But most of all, I was happy to see my cousin and her family. I was happy to see my sister as we embraced each other for the first time in years. I must admit that I felt like I was a part of something special. I felt like part of the family.
When I was present in my old self, I was never comfortable being who I was. I was never any good at being a Christian, and I failed miserably. For valid and non-valid reasons, I turned my back on Christianity. Whatever my reasons were for rejecting my past faith as a fruitless pursuit, I had already rejected organized religion and rejected any belief I had in God many years prior to walking away from the Church. Leaving my past behind to make new experiences and form new memories has brought me back around full circle to the place of my youth, not as the person I once was but as the human being I have become. Perhaps, during my three and a half year rejection of all things called God or The Higher Power, He (or It) was not so far away that I could never reach Him or return to the Source. Although I cannot return to my former self, I can be the best new me in my current form. I now have the opportunity to put my emotional and spiritual house in order…to put things right with those whom I have always loved even as I spent years feeling unloved and rejected by them. I’ve been ill with the disease of unforgiveness for a very long time, and subsequently, allowed my anger toward a few Christians to destroy relationships with my sister and others in my own family.
Within the inner circle of your life, people will fail you. They often will not live up to the expectations you have for them. However, years of your life should never pass you by in which you fail to forgive anybody even if that means returning to the place where it all began. Forgiveness requires self-denial as it sometimes will come with a high price.
I can never be the same old person I once was, but I can try and be the best human being today, who reflects the spirit of long-suffering in the face of adversity. None of us truly know exactly how much time we have left in the world so it is imperative that we make things right before that window of opportunity is closed to us forever. If we fail to forgive others, we will only be left with huge regret whether in this life or the next.