A decade ago, my sister's ex-husband died unexpectedly. Though their marriage had ended ten years earlier, he was still a part of our lives because of their daughter, my niece. I no longer saw him, but in the years of their marriage he had been a friend.
Several weeks after his death, my sister and her daughter decided to have a memorial. There wasn't much time for me to plan, and the memorial was held on a Monday morning in a different state.
My father's health had recently begun to decline and in this state, he told me not to come to the memorial. He was quite adamant, and I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life; I listened.
I still live with the disappointment of letting my sister and my niece down.
Recently my niece and I were talking and she expressed her anger at her grandfather for insisting we not come. I walked away from the conversation with several insights. The first insight was that no matter the circumstances, the forces that oppose our thoughts and actions, we still have a choice. Though I would like to blame it on Dad, I always had a choice to act differently.
In a follow-up conversation, I explained to my niece my thoughts and learning from the consequences of not coming to the memorial. Foremost I learned, we always have a choice, and in the misery of my wrong choice, I knew I had to change. I needed to become more sensitive to death and funerals, and memorials, and to mourn with those who mourn.
Consequently, we should be more forgiving of the trespasses against us because in those offenses may come the greatest lesson to the offender. Climbing out of the pit of regret may bring the greatest effort to change and become better. Mistakes can be sanctifying. Even sacred.
In forgiving we become a part of the sanctification. In essence, we reach into that pit and exclaim, "Hold on and I will help you out."
In doing so, we rise too.