Last week a very important man died. I have heard people complaining about everyone talking about him on Facebook and Twitter. I have heard politicians saying ridiculous things about him, spewing hateful comments, and I have heard people say that the only reason people are talking about Nelson Mandela is because he is now dead. I have to say that on the day he passed away I was pretty disgusted to see updates about Carrie Underwood singing live in The Sound of Music. My apologies if there are fans out there reading this. I know we are all different, and I am not trying to knock her or her music, but to me there is no comparison. This man was special. I have admired him for years.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
My youngest daughter today asked me who he was. She actually thought he was an actor. I looked at my child in shock. I calmly explained how long he was imprisoned, and instead of carrying the hate around for the people who stole 27 years of his life, of his family’s lives, he chose to forgive. I explained to my daughter how rare it is to find this quality in a person who is treated the way Nelson Mandela was treated. We should all be talking about him. We should be telling our children about him. Everyone should already know who he was, and I was very embarrassed that my daughter had no clue who he was.
“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.”
I think that he is such a wonderful example of forgiveness. There is one thing that I have been thinking about this weekend and it is that we were brought into this world with nothing but our souls, which is exactly how we exit. When we die it will no longer matter what we have, what we drive, what we did for a living, what we weighed, what color our hair was. I don’t know how many times I have heard people say, if you want respect you have to earn respect or if you want respect do you deserve it? No, I don’t always deserve respect. I will admit that. I don’t always deserve to be first in line. I don’t always deserve a hug or a kind word. Who determines what is deserved anyway? Who has deemed themselves worthy of judging worthiness? I don’t feel that any human being is worthy of judging another, unless it is in a court of law in front of a jury of peers. Otherwise, let’s leave that up to the man upstairs. My point is that I am the first to say that there are days that I can be an ass, when I snap at people. On Friday afternoon, a man cut me off in the Target parking lot, and I yelled at him. I did not even give him a chance to redeem himself, and guess what? He smiled and waved at me. I felt horrible. I immediately parked and took a series of deep breaths. I was nice to people for the rest of the day. I changed my attitude. I totally did NOT deserve that man’s smile after the way that I treated him, and if he would have yelled back, I would have understood. But he made another choice.
“I am not the only one who did not want revenge. Almost all my colleagues in prison did not want revenge, because there is no time to do anything else except to try and save your people.”
“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
Blended families are different. I think we are teaching families. We show other families that it’s okay to do things a different way. It was tough for me at first to forgive my ex-husband for all of our past years of fights, all of those ridiculous things that I thought I needed to hold onto and be angry about. The most difficult thing was to forgive myself. We aren’t always deserving, but we must, in order to be able to move on, and in order to unburden ourselves. To teach our children how to live without the constant weight of regret we MUST forgive.
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
The first step to forgiveness is the idea of it, just the mere thought of it, like planting a seed. It might not seem like much at first, but water it every day, think about it a little more and eventually the seed will take root. One day the plant will grow. That enemy will become your partner. My ex-husband and I are raising two children, not only together, but with two other people who were strangers at one point, and when you think about it that is pretty incredible. Later this week we will all sit down for another parenting meeting over dinner to discuss some parenting issues. This would have NEVER been possible had we not forgiven one another for our past mistakes–OUR past. Nothing is ever one person’s fault.
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
Trish Eklund is raising her two daughters of thirteen and sixteen with her husband, ex-husband, and his wife. Trish is the owner and creator of Family Fusion Community. She is also the owner and founder of Abandoned, Forgotten, and Decayed, a photographic adventure in the abandoned and the forgotten. Trish’s photography has been featured on Only in Nebraska and Pocket Abandoned. Follow on Instagram, Facebook, Facebook-Family Fusion Community, and Pinterest. Trish is featured on The Mighty, Making Midlife Matter, and on The Five Moms. Trish is also regularly featured on Huffington Post Divorce, as well as Her View From Home. Trish also has an essay in the anthology, Hey, Who’s In My House? Stepkids Speak Out by Erin Mantz, which is currently available. The first book telling the story of blended family life from the perspective of the stepkids.