One impediment to forgiveness is not understanding how someone could do something hurtful. Shouldn’t they have known better?
A helpful forgiveness belief is that everyone is on their own developmental and spiritual path – learning, growing, and doing the best they can. This helps us forgive others and also ourselves.
I wrote the following poem, It Could Have Been Different, with the purpose of better understanding how circumstances impact who we are and the choices we make.
It Could Have Been Different
By Christy Heacock
She was born a farm girl at a time when farm girls got married, had babies,
and were supposed to be fulfilled by family, faith, and a clean house.
She wasn’t supposed to like books so much,
and learning new things,
and dancing and dreaming.
She was a good girl
and dropped out of school to care for her sick mother.
But woman’s work wasn’t happy work for her
and she decided to blame that unpleasant truth on other women,
who it seemed to her had created the box she’d been stuffed into.
She idolized the male gender, as they got to do the things she wanted to do.
Their lives seemed a little closer to heaven than the hell she was experiencing.
She became pregnant in an age that required you marry,
even if you were only 17 and the man who got you pregnant was 20 years older.
She had a second baby ten months after the first
in a small rural community where you didn’t talk about
birth control or family planning.
She became depressed in a time and place
that didn’t tolerate sadness, sorrow, or compassion,
but gave a nod to anger, meanness, and harsh judgments.
She became isolated and unforgiving
and didn’t realize she was hurting her family,
because the only hurt she could feel was her own.
Sometimes she would be rescued by books
that took her on journeys that stirred her imagination and gave her hope.
As she grew older she created a fairy tale in her mind
of the way things were,
and she tried not to let real people or unsettling experiences
intrude on that story.
She grew up learning you didn’t complain
until you were visibly and incontrovertibly ill.
Consequently, when the heart attack threatened,
the available modern hospital did not take the place of
a solitary bedroom and rosary beads.
So she died young.
She did the best she could
with what she had
and who she was.
It could have been different,
but not for that person,
in that time,
and in that place.