Reflections

To be set free

Eleanor Deckert

I've been struggling for over four years

– betrayal, broken trust, wounds, loss of sleep, soul-searching - remembering the words, the facial expressions, the gestures. The scene plays over and over again.

I feel like I have been banished to live in exile. I would much prefer reconciliation.

Maybe the other person doesn't know?

So, I get up my courage and write a letter. Not face-to-face; that might seem too forceful. Not a phone call; there's no lasting record of the transaction. Not an email; too easy to misinterpret the meaning. In a letter I could write, consider, rewrite, wait, let emotions cool, try to be sensible. The person who reads the letter can read, consider, reread, wait, let emotions cool, try to be sensible.

There are four people I want to contact, describe what I remember, ask for forgiveness, ask them to consider how they hurt me, share my intention to see the facts, understand the situation and forgive the actions, heal the wound and strive for a wholesome life.

While the letters move across the miles, my mind collects stories of others who have been estranged for lengths of time - sisters-in-law, who at age 90 still harbour ill will concerning an object that one thinks the other has and won't tell the truth; a brother who is not invited to family gatherings; a family of five, who shake their heads and say, “I don't know why…” when I ask about the absence of the sixth family member.

I try to keep my mind away from plots of revenge. “You have heard that it has been said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was done away with when Jesus said, “But, I tell you: Love your enemies.”

I'm trying. I don't want to do any harm. They are the ones who hurt me!

I sincerely want a newly-refreshed relationship with the people I wrote the letters to. I want to laugh, to hear their stories and adventures and news. I want to share my accomplishments. I want to pick up the phone and say, “I was thinking of you today.” I want to exchange Christmas cards and acknowledge anniversaries and birthdays.

My aunt advises, “Let go of your expectations.”

I don't know what that means - I expect hot water to come out of the 'H' tap. I expect to get gas out of the pump, and connect when I call a phone number. I also expect to continue cheerful communication with family, with neighbours, and co-workers.

A popular phrase is, “Let go and let God.” Yes, I know that God has the power to heal and renew, not only the other person, but me, too. But, I don't usually 'let go.' I usually 'try.'

Disney's song in the movie 'Frozen' repeats, “Let it go! Let it go!” It sounds like she's walking away from every scrap of the past, tradition... expectations. I'm looking for continuity and to better understand the hurt so that I can deliberately make a change, not just walk away from it.

One-by-one the four people respond. I'm so surprised! None of them have done anything wrong! I am the one to blame! Astonishing!

“I'm not shutting you out. You're shutting me out.”

“I have no interest in your forgiveness as I have not done anything wrong.”

“You are irrational. I do not want to continue this conversation.”

And the fourth? Still silence.

Well. That was not what I was hoping for. I struggle some more.

I had taught my little kids to say, “I'm sorry” and reply, “I forgive you.” Why is it so hard for me to understand and live 'forgiveness'?

Last night, a new word popped into my head.

“Release.”

I tried it on. I said it out loud. I inserted that word into each of the four conflicts. I imagined releasing a beautiful leaf onto the surface of a gently flowing creek, allowing it to float away, out of my reach, to do whatever it was going to do.

It felt good. It felt like something I could do. It felt like fresh air, breeze, flowing. I felt my own tension relax.

Today I looked in the dictionary.

Release: To set free from restraint. To allow to move away from a place of confinement. To set free from obligations, commitments, or debt. To unfasten something held fast.

I release you, all of you - and I also was released.