“I forgive you.” It’s easy to say. It’s harder to do. It’s not an event. It is a journey.
We all have felt injured in some way by another. Usually the pain is greatest when the offender is someone we love. Whether it is betrayal of innocence as a child; an unfaithful spouse or partner; a breach of honesty between best friends; or a real or imagined emotional attack from a sibling.
By no means are the ones closest to us the only ones who hurt us in this life, but often forgiving them is a process which takes time. These are relationships we cherish and want to keep. Sometimes it ends up it isn’t possible to keep them in our lives, but for our own sakes, if not for theirs, we must eventually forgive or let bitterness become a sickness of our souls.
So where do we start to understand how they could love us and hurt us so deeply? We begin by learning who they are. They are humans. They are flawed and broken just as we are flawed and broken.
My favorite movie of all time is “Terms of Endearment” with Shirley McClain and Debra Winger. I saw it in the theatre when it first came out. When I left to return to the car, my face was red and drenched with tears.
In the beginning of the movie the audience learns the characters: Aurora Greenaway and her daughter Emma live in a prosperous neighborhood on Houston’s west side. Aurora is a widow who struggles with aging and clings to her material wealth as a sign of prestige. She wants her daughter to marry well. Emma, on the other hand, is not enamored of material possessions, and falls in love with a young man who is starting out as a college professor. Aurora disapproves and thinks Flap (Emma’s new husband) isn’t good for her daughter. She is even more disappointed when Flap accepts a job with a college many states away.
Once they have moved, they start to have children and life begins to set in with Flap no longer getting the attention he did before two boys and a girl. He has an affair with a student and Emma finds out. In her emotional state, after being betrayed, she meets a man who is married but unhappy, too and they have an affair.
In the meantime in her loneliness, Aurora’s next-door-neighbor, a former astronaut and grandiose playboy, named Garrett Breedlove (Jack Nicholson) starts to pursue her. She is annoyed that he is not as refined as she. Nevertheless she begins to let her loneliness override her better judgement and starts going out with him.
Then tragedy strikes when Emma finds out she is terminally ill with cancer. A transformation takes place in everyone’s life. Flap stays at Emma’s side and Aurora gains new respect for him. She is devastated at the impending loss of her daughter, but not wanting to see her suffer. When Emma does die in her sleep, Aurora realizes her death is the worst thing that could ever happen to her and her life will never be the same. From this point on, the movie is focused on Aurora, who never wanted to be a grandmother, taking in Emma’s children and becoming serious with Garrett and life goes on.
There is a lot of hurt between these characters and a lot of forgiveness that needs to be given and the catalyst that provides that road to forgiveness is tragic. But it is the journey of life, not the tragic event, that provides the understanding that each individual is flawed and broken and forgiveness is divine.
© copyright 2017…..Phyllis Rogers