FORGIVENESS AND OUTLIVING THE BITCHES

One Sunday in church, Pastor’s sermon was about forgiveness. He asked everyone in the church to stand up. Then he asked those who had any enemies to sit down. Everyone sat down but one very old woman.

“You have no enemies at all?” asked Pastor.

“Not a single one,” she answered, nodding her agreement.

“Please, come up here and tell everyone how you reached such a great age without having any enemies,” said Pastor. A deacon accompanied the elderly woman to the pulpit and everyone in church applauded as she slowly made her way up the steps. Pastor adjusted the microphone.

“You must have done a lot of forgiving,” said Pastor. “Please, tell us your secret.”

The old lady smiled beatifically.

“I outlived the bitches,” she said.


Life marches on. You get older and after a while, you realize all the people you used to obsess over, the people who hurt you, are mostly gone. By the time you pass 70, a lot of people have disappeared from your life. Good ones you loved and the evil ones you hated. The sickly ones with bad hearts.

Chickens come home to roost. Crazy drivers meet their maker on a dark highway. Heavy drinkers, smokers, drug users find a sad end. It turns out that hating them was a waste of energy. Cancer, heart attack, and other diseases weed out people, the best and the worst, remorselessly and without no regard for personal qualities. Meanwhile, the older generation passes away, one funeral at a time.

Time makes most of the fears and worries of life less important. It turns out, forgiveness is not about repairing relationships so you can be friends again. It’s all about letting go. Passing stuff to your “higher power,” whatever that means to you. Acknowledging you can’t fix everything.

Realizing it’s not your job to fix it.

Shit happens. Some of it — unfair and unforgivable — happens to you. You can make it the center of your world and spend your life brooding and obsessing over it. Or, you can decide you won’t be defined by the worst stuff that happened to you — or the worst stuff you’ve done.

I know people who had wonderful careers full of honor and respect who lost their jobs and promptly declared themselves failures, as if that one bad thing — getting fired — negated everything that had gone before.

I know men and women who were abused as children who still define themselves as victims — 50 or 60 years later.

If you like yourself, you can be pretty happy no matter what life throws at you. It’s that simple. And that difficult. When you start forgiving, forgive yourself first. For the mistakes you made. For the bad choices, the stupid decisions, the asshole(s) you married, almost married, allowed to mess with your head.

perfect path in the woods

The jobs you screwed up, shouldn’t have taken, should have taken (but didn’t). The opportunities you blew. The unfinished manuscripts, the unpublished stories. The times you were wrong and didn’t apologize. Your failures as a parent, the books you didn’t read. All the “shoulda coulda woulda” you’ve accumulated.

If you throw it all out, you won’t eliminate all your problems. The money you don’t have won’t suddenly pop into your bank account. Youth and health won’t return. But, you don’t have to haul the past with you into the future and you can enjoy what you do have without obsessing over what you missed.

The sooner you do it, the better. Life isn’t forever, even if you live entirely on salad and never miss a day of exercise. Then, with a little luck, you’ll outlive the bitches.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!

19 thoughts on “FORGIVENESS AND OUTLIVING THE BITCHES”

  1. “Outlived the bitches” is priceless…and I put a face with your little old lady…it’s the kind of thing a couple of octogenarians that I know would say (one of them would say bitch, the other would say witch…tomato, tomahto)… This is excellent advice. One thing. I hear an awful lot about being ‘defined as a victim’ and I know some folks who are. I smile, a little condescendingly usually, because my own horror story is worse than they could imagine..or survive, apparently. But there’s a thing about that childhood trauma. It leaves scars. You don’t have to wear the mantle of the victim, and you can get on just fine—even succeed. But now and then someone does something, says something that tears at those scars and some fresh healing has to occur. The people who go about moaning about their horrible childhood and how it shaped them into someone nobody wants to know or caused them to commit crimes…those people who I’ve met like that are referred to take themselves to a head doctor, get the problem worked on and to start healing. Most don’t take the advice, they’d rather be the victims they see themselves as.

    Like

    1. I know. I have — with age — gotten much better about not trying to compete. If they think they had the WORST CHILDHOOD EVER, I agree with them because to them, it probably is the worst imaginable. They wouldn’t have survived yours or mine. But it’s not a competition, fortunately.

      Too many people seem to regard MISfortune as a competitive. Weird. There are people who have mental ailments, but they never find a way to step out of them even for a minute or two.

      I’m just glad life is getting better for me, even if my body is kind of falling apart.

      Like

Talk to me!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.