I heard some of the best advice given to me the other day: “Don’t let someone’s decisions change your character.” When I heard that one sentence I was shocked that someone would have such wisdom. You see, this past year, my parents after thirty years decided to separate and divorce.
If you have ever experienced parents divorcing, you know that there is a lot of pain, confusion, and heartache. I don’t think it matters your age; it always hurts. A picture perfect family that you envisioned will soon be two families (even when you always knew it wasn’t perfect). Fun-filled holidays won’t be the same, but rather a tug of war to go to not just one parent’s house but now two.
Eventually you learn (or I hear that you learn) to move on, heal, and do what’s best for you. During the healing process, I have become calloused but then vulnerable, sad and then sometimes furious. There is a roller coaster of emotions that encompasses a divided family. I have gotten mad at individuals and have stood firm and unwavering on my decision to never speak with them, but then realized that was not realistic and not a healthy way to live. Unforgiveness smothers your happiness and will deteriorate your joy.
It is a process. At times, I’m able to live without it crossing my mind. Then sometimes I’m hurt all over again and mad at certain individuals. I have spent countless nights lying in bed rehearsing a speech that I would love to give to those who have hurt me. The words are choice, the phrases are timely, and sharp as a two-edged sword.
Recently, I had decided that the speech would become a reality. I would march up to that person’s door, knock furiously, and invite myself in, completely unannounced, of course.
But I was stopped in my tracks when a mentor of mine said that one tiny but powerful sentence: “Don’t let someone’s decisions change your character.” I realized that no matter the decisions of a person, I couldn’t let it alter who I was. Even if someone has been unquestionably wrong, that person’s actions do not give me the right to do something that for 1. is out of character and 2. possibly damaging as well.
So I’ve decided to keep my character intact. No more “dress rehearsals” at midnight with me killing someone with my words. I won’t change on account of someone else’s decisions.
When will I heal completely? Who knows? But as I continue to forgive…sometimes daily, the pain is slowly melting away, and my joy is being revived.
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