Archive for the ‘forgiveness’ Tag

OUTTAKE — CONFESSION AND FORGIVENESS   Leave a comment

Before you call out the morality police on this one, remember we’re talking about two very little girls.

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While Jennie and Carl were gone, Hallie and Mona had engaged in a new activity. In the privacy of the playhouse they played what they called “show naked.” No sooner had they gone on to something else than the guilt attacked them. They just knew it was wrong.

Guilt hurts. At least it hurt Mona, so badly that she retreated to the privacy of the bathroom where she could moan without anyone noticing. That night she slept tight – I mean, her body was tight. It was as if she were stiffening herself two inches above the mattress. As the sleep-disturbed nights went on, the days were worse and worse. Nothing was fun.

“I think we should tell our mothers,” she pleaded with Hallie.”

“Oh no, I’ll never tell my mother.” Hallie thought of the switch her mother used as punishment.

The worst punishment Mona had ever suffered was when Jennie washed her mouth out with Lux soap for swearing. That really burned, she remembered. But she’d rather have that than the awful pain of guilt.

So, on the day Jennie went to fetch the fur coat and visit the milliner to design the hat, Mona decided she couldn’t stand the pain any more. When her mother got home she gave her time to hang the coat on the light fixture in the upstairs hall where she always put her new things. Then Mona choked her confession through her tightened throat.

“Thank you for telling me,” Jennie said. “Don’t ever do it again.”

All they did was watch each other urinate, she thought. I guess it’s good they felt guilty. They’re not likely to do worse things.

Mona had been feeling so bad that the relief was almost as good as Christmas. She floated across the back yard to tell Hallie.

Hallie never did tell her mother.

The fur on that coat always had a special sweet feel.

 

Posted March 21, 2020 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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BACK TO THE SEMINAR   8 comments

Forgive me for the long delay. I’ve been busy preparing and giving an in-person presentation on reconciliation at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Excelsior, Minnesota, on Wednesday, February 13. You might be interested to know an answer I gave there to the question “Why?”

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go: first be reconciled to your brother or sister and then come and offer your gift.” Mathew 5: 23-24

It’s the biblical way of saying you can’t enjoy the blessing of internal peace if you are harboring anger over a damaged relationship. It’s another way of emphasizing the importance of removing the impediment from your own eye before trying to straighten someone else out.

The point is, reconciliation requires coming together in one way or another with the other person(s). It’s a two-way street. Except when the other person refuses to engage. Then the reconciliation requires engaging oneself internally in working through the hurt and anger.

For now, though, I’d like to talk about initiating the connection. It’s important to know the outcome you hope for …  and how likely it is that you’ll get what you’re looking for. Do you want a response? What might it be? An offer to meet and talk? An agreement to follow through on the direct action you’ve requested? Or even for the person to realize there’s a problem in the first place? Are you creating more pain and anger for yourself by imagining an unlikely response, the absence of which will leave you disappointed (and even angrier?)

Or what if you just want to express your anger. If you do that and stop there, it’s guaranteed you’ll accomplish two things – hurt the other person, and encourage defensiveness, denial, and/or retaliation.

But if hurting the other person is what you want, here are the rules for doing it.

  • Create a triangle. Try to get a third person to deliver your message for you. Or maybe bring in someone else as in, “And Mary Jane agrees with me, too.”
  • Don’t respond if the person reaches out to you
  • Send a letter – snail mail or e-mail – with no opportunity for the recipient to respond. End it with something like, “I just had to tell you how I feel.”
  • Make sure you blame the person.
  • Make sure you imply that you are blameless.
  • Maybe offer a diagnosis to explain the other person’s misdeed, as, for example, “You always were good at being passive aggressive” or “I have to understand that you can’t help being like that, given what I know about your upbringing.”
  • Avoid the Jennie rule. Jennie, my mother, one of those people who qualifies as a natural confident – one whom other people felt comforted by – recommended “Always put the best construction on all your neighbor’s actions.” That doesn’t mean making excuses or accepting abuse. It means there’s always another side. Finding it is the essence of love. It’s also the best route to understanding and potentially resolving a painful issue. Or maybe realizing that it’s time to give up. So, if what you want is to hurt the other person, then don’t invoke the Jennie rule.
  • Finally, and above all, if you want to avoid reconciliation, don’t communicate directly with the other person.

Maybe you can tell from reading this that I’d rather be talking with you in person, watching your reaction, coming up with spontaneous stories to illustrate my point. But I hope these thoughts are of some help.

And, to tell the truth, I hope you won’t apply any of the rules I’ve given above.

I’ll be back soon with the more positive side of the story, but maybe you can guess what will go into the next section: “What to do if you want to reconcile.”

I’d love to hear your reactions to this.

 

 

LET’S GET SERIOUS ABOUT FORGIVENESS. NOPE! BETTER YET, LET’S LAUGH   4 comments

Just click the link below — so good, and so good for you

Let’s laugh instead

Posted September 23, 2018 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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Forgiveness — Thanks to Jean Budge   6 comments

I owe so much to my friends. Like the most recent addition to my web site — a very moving account of forgiveness where one might think it impossible. I hope you’ll take the time to click on “my web site” and watch it. I think you’ll be glad you did if you haven’t seen it already, and even if you have, a second viewing might be worth it.

Posted October 8, 2017 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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SCIENCE BACKED STRATEGIES THAT MAY HELP IN THESE STRESSFUL TIMES   3 comments

Just back from a fabulous Smithsonian trip to Egypt, I’m way behind, of course, in almost everything that needs doing. I’m not even ready yet to post the photo of me standing by a camel. No, forget it, I’m not brave enough to ride one.

Anyway, this link leads to a long article, but you may find it helpful. I especially recommend the material at the end on forgiveness. In fact, I wish it would lead you to my books on forgiveness. But, no matter what, I hope you have the time to enjoy it.

Science Backed Strategies

Mona’s Books

 

Posted November 10, 2016 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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FORGIVE AND FORGET?   8 comments

I have really enjoyed seeing sales of “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses” increase as I’ve shared some reviews, but I had promised to get rolling on the issue of forgiveness. So here’s my first entry. It ties directly back to promises I made when my web site was established some time ago.

First, let me say that I personally don’t like posts that are too long. I find myself anxious to get back to writing “My Father’s House,” so I’ll assume that it’s a good idea to keep my own posts short. That means what I say is going to be imperfect. I hope that in itself will encourage arguments, examples, and other comments.

So, here goes.

I loved Lewis Smedes “Forgive and Forget,” but I hated the title. I was told later by someone who knew him personally that he didn’t like it either. Publishers have a way of imposing things on authors. Why not like it? Because it’s basically impossible, certainly unrealistic, to think you can forget the offense you’ve suffered.

Try to shove the offense out of your mind? Well, to put it maybe too simply, but realistically, you’ll be pushing it into your body to create all the possible negative effects of stress. Like a viral or bacterial infection it will grow without control.

The truth is, you can work on relieving the terrible aftermath of suffering an offense, but you won’t forget it. What will happen with good forgiveness work is you’ll lose the emotional pain and protect your body.

Forgiveness usually takes hard work over time. Why would you want to forget the benefits of that herculean effort and all you learned from it?

If I can tear myself away from my other writing, I’ll soon be sharing the forgiveness process as presented in “Forgiving One Page at a Time.”

By the way, I loved Smedes’ later book, “The Art of Forgiving

I grieved as if I had known him personally when he died.

THE SCIENCE OF HUMAN GOODNESS   12 comments

Many years ago now, my friend and colleague Barbara McEwen, a physiological psychologist,  made me aware that I didn’t fully understand the meaning of “The Survival of the Fittest.” Like so many people, I thought it meant that the winners were the ones who managed to beat the competition and pass on their genetic material. Barb pointed out that cooperation is every bit as important as competition, evoking my reaction of “Of course, why didn’t I know that,”

Sadly, Barb is no longer with us to see the influence of people like her. But, fortunately, scientists are now exploring the implications of humanity’s cooperative side, with an emphasis on human goodness. Right now I’m reading a collection of articles by scientists who are exploring this side of humanity. They don’t deny what we can’t avoid seeing — the competitive side of our heritage. But it’s not the only side. (In fact, right now it seems to me that’s the major battle going on politically and throughout the world: selfish competition vs. compassionate cooperation.}

The book to which I am referring is edited by Dacher Keltner and Jason Marsh,”The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness.”It’s a selection of articles from the magazine “The Greater Good.” It’s one of three magazine I need in my life to offer the positives over the noise and stress of today’s communications.

I’m not going to review the book here, or try to summarize the kinds of things that have been studied. I just want to mention two of them: gratitude and forgiveness.

As for gratitude, I’d like, ironically, to start a competition. Who can provide the longest list of things for which one is grateful.

As for forgiveness, I’m going to break down and summarize, bit by bit, the content of my own “Forgiving One Page at a Time.”

So be prepared, I’m about to start compiling my own gratitude list and share the numbers, not necessarily the content.

Forgiveness will be next.

Tell me, does that sound like a good plan?

 

IF YOU’RE LOCAL, PLEASE JOIN ME ON APRIL 14   8 comments

I’m delighted to kick off a series at Auburn Homes and Services here in Chaska at 6:00 p.m on Thursday, April 14. It will be a challenge to do something useful with such a complex topic as forgiveness in such a small amount of time, but I think I’ll provide something worthwhile. And providers can collect CEUs by attending these offerings.

I’d love to see you there.

caregiver_flyer

WISHING GOOD THINGS AT THIS HOLIDAY TIME   12 comments

In past years I’ve managed to do something relatively elaborate to wish my friends a happy holiday. This year not so much, but my joy in your friendship is none-the-less nurturing, exciting and powerful.

As I think you know, my big event of the year was turning my lovely little Acura RSX into a flattened pile of metal and stuff that looked in the end like an aluminum can crushed under foot in preparation for the recycling bin. That was on April 15, when I was on my way home looking forward to two unscheduled days to dig into some of my ongoing projects.

Most of those projects are still active in my head, but I’m way behind in carrying them out. I did get to follow through on plans to take part in a forum on forgiveness at the Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church on April 28. With the help of my son who got my computer to me at Auburn Manor where I was rehabbing, I was able to create handouts illustrating my new approach to presenting forgiveness issues, emphasizing that justice and mercy are two sides of the same coin. Auburn manor made it easy for me to work within the recovery schedule, and some very generous folks from the church managed to get me there and back to present from a wheelchair. Quite dramatic, really.

One of my projects now is to write about my crash, what I’ve learned from it, and the impact it’s had on my life. I have started working on it, discovering that I have to go back to check records to remind me where I was when. Memory, never a simple file folder in the brain, is more vague than I thought it would be. But you will probably be exposed to it eventually.

Work also proceeds on “My Father’s House.” Right now it’s mostly doing research about Bristol, Connecticut and life and times around 1910. Totally stalled, however, is the creation of questions for groups to use in discussing “Figs and Pomegranates and Special Cheeses.” I’m hopeful they will eventually encourage more adoption of “Figs … . “ Then there’s my blog, and my facebook page, so badly ignored as they fall to the bottom of the priorities list.

I’ve been out of the three-month sentence to the torso brace since July 17. Whew! What a relief. But regaining my energy is still an ongoing process, along with getting accustomed to my shorter stature after losing two inches to my L1 compression fracture. And what a shock when I realized how it had changed my body structure! Yes, I worked hard at keeping good posture, but my clothes needed a lot of adjusting. The local tailor was wonderful at working around the brace to alter clothes to fit for our July 28 departure on a planned three-week cruise to the Shetland Islands, Iceland, and Norway.

The flight on the way over did hurt. I walked the aisles a lot, but three weeks of rest, walking, and fun worked wonders. The trip home was very comfortable. I still need to lie on my back occasionally when pain starts to build up – especially after working at my computer, and walking is amazingly helpful. But my chiropractor/nutritionist tells me things will keep on getting better. Certainly I have no basis for complaining when I think of what might have happened if my Acura, its seat belts, and air bags hadn’t taken such good, protective care of me.

I loved all the places we visited on the cruise. I intended to share a few photos on my blog, but I haven’t made it past the point of beginning to learn how to post movies. Just beginning to learn how – still haven’t done it.

As for photos, I haven’t yet downloaded the few I took on our restful and fun four-night Thanksgiving stay at Cove Point in Beavers Falls, outside Duluth. Because then, of course, came the preparation for Christmas. I am no longer responsible for “creating” the celebration, but, given my propensity to purchase gifts through the year while traveling, it does fall to me to wrap them all and get them to their destinations.

All these words just to explain why I haven’t been writing on my blog and facebook! And I thought I was going to write just a brief paragraph.

Finally,to the point. Two points, actually. (1) Rejoice! The winter solstice arrives in a few hours and we will begin to have more daylight. (2) Rejoice! Things may be pretty awful, but we always have this annual time to at least imagine what love and peace will look like when we decide to practice them. Oh, and (3) Thank you for enriching my life with the creative things you do in the blogosphere.

I’M FURIOUS WITH “BLUEBLOODS.”   10 comments

I doubt anyone has noticed, but it’s been a long time since I’ve posted to my blog – just too busy trying to do other things. But I have faithfully kept track of the friends I “follow.”

Today is different. I feel a moral obligation to respond to the lie that was told last evening on the latest episode of “Bluebloods.”

If you don’t know the show, I’ll tell you about it. First, though, I want to explain that I was watching it because it’s one of the fictional shows I enjoy at 9:00 p.m. Central Time. I try very hard to be ready to relax by that time so I can lose the day’s stress watching make-believe. I like the show. I like the characters – a good-looking bunch of folks.

It’s the story of a wealthy Irish Catholic family that basically controls an error-free, noble, always just, New York Police Department. It’s clear they are wealthy, because at the end of almost every episode they all gather around a large table in their attractive dining room in their large house for an ample meal accompanied by wine. (The children in the family don’t have wine glasses in front of them.)

At the head of the table is the police commissioner, or his father, the retired commissioner. The rest all serve in one way or another – detective, officer, prosecutor. The children all plan to follow the noble path when they grow up. Often there are political problems with the Mayor who has a bad habit of thinking first of re-election. In between there are the kinds of things one expects to happen in a cop show.

There are some interesting things I tend to mull about when I watch it. For some reason that seems to have nothing to do with the drama, the writers killed off the mother and the grandmother before the show even began – and an older brother who died in the line of duty. (Hm. Sort of makes me think of the Kennedy family.)

Alcohol seems to play a major role. Not only is there the wine at dinner. (Let me be clear, I like wine at dinner.) But there is also the ever handy bottle of bourbon, or whatever it is they drink, when there is a problem to discuss – at home or at the office – and a glass poured at the end of the day to relax. There’s no obvious threat of alcoholism, but I often wonder what was the writer’s purpose in introducing it.

I’m quite sure the writer’s have a political point of view different from mine. On a few occasions they have spoken disparagingly, almost sneeringly, about the ACLU. Not anything long, just sort of a giggly hope that no one they know would be “that” kind of lawyer. No problem. I suspect it even fits the plot line. Lots of people in their line of work don’t especially like the American Civil Liberties Union. As a matter of fact, if my memory serves me correctly, the first President Bush bragged about tearing up his ACLU membership card.

I personally have been a member of the ACLU since I traveled to Germany (among other places in Europe) shortly after WWII. The rubble was still all around. Yes, I’m that old. The thing is, I met so many wonderful people – good people who had let the holocaust happen. I remember one of our student guides saying, “It will come to your country someday.” I learned what I think is an important lesson. It’s true: Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Hence, the ACLU membership.

But that’s not why I’m furious. They have every right to make their opinions known. No, I’m furious because they basically lied, and misinformed, in an area which is extremely important in the current atmosphere of violence, cruelty, and vengeance.

For no apparent dramatic reason, last night they introduced the concept of “restorative practices,” sneeringly suggesting it might be OK for High School students to apologize for things they do, but …

OK, so the lie. They completely misrepresented the process, thereby distorting the purpose. The subplot starts when a young woman who is about to be married receives a letter from a man in jail – the person who years before had killed her mother, father, and brother apparently in a home invasion. He would like the young woman to meet with him in jail. WRONG! That is not the way a restorative justice interaction begins. Unless something has changed a lot very recently, the perpetrator is not allowed to harass the victim. No, restorative justice began for the relief of the victim, not the criminal. It’s the reason why, for example, victims now have the opportunity to testify before the sentencing. It would have to be the victim who initiated the meeting.

The next WRONG!. When the young woman wants to do it, in spite of the Commissioner’s advise, he insists he is going with her. Here’s where things get to be a big lie. As it’s presented, they just make a date and go to the prison. Once there, she and the killer and a woman — apparently some kind of social worker – meet over a table in a private room. The “social worker” person yields easily to the Commissioners insistence that he will stay, and is ready to end it all if he detects that the prisoner is hurting the woman in any way. THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT THE WAY THINGS ARE DONE.

There would be no such meeting without a long process of preparation – often as much as a year or more– being sure both parties want the meeting and are prepared for it.

Rather than presenting a restorative practice interaction as the serious, important, and productive process it is, they made it look like an amateurish, thoughtless, activity.

Finally, the Commissioner encourages her to maintain her vengeful attitude. She has every right to do that. As one who cares a lot about forgiveness, I’m the first to say that forgiveness coerced is not forgiveness at all. The sad thing, though, is the next day she gets married still harboring the hate. WRONG! Forgiveness is not a gift to the killer. It is a gift to oneself, proved many times over to be important for one’s physical and mental health. She has now begun her married life carrying the hatred and all its potential damage with her.

The fact is, restorative practice is a very practical response to crime. A highly developed legal process in several countries, and less widely in the U.S,, it has been demonstrated to reduce recidivism significantly. To say nothing of the fact that people, both victims and criminals, are rehabilitated. The process saves money and saves lives and the quality of life.

I’m furious with “Bluebloods” because the misinformation is presented for no apparent reason except to degrade an important development in judicial process. I guess it continues to be more important to enjoy the satisfaction of inflicting retributive pain than to work at solving problems.

I’ll keep watching the program. Along with CSI and NCIS and their variants, it is one of my favorites. I know the blood is fake, the gun ammo are blanks, and the actors will get up off the floor.

I’ll also keep doing what little I can to encourage restorative practices rather than pleasure in vengeance that leads to no productive end.

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