I have been going to a self-evolvement course called Avatar since October of 1998. My daughters Haley and Sydne were 4 and 2 at the time. I loved the course and gained so much from it that I became a trained Avatar Teacher. Not only was I helping others, but it was also fulfilling to me. This meant that I traveled 5 to 6 times a year for up to 15 days at a time. At that time, my girls’ father took care of them while I was away. I would make my travel plans, tell the girls I was leaving, and take off. Haley and Sydne would often complain and be upset about it. I would kiss them and tell them that it was mommy’s job and that we would do fun things when I returned. One of the courses was only offered once a year and coincided with Sydne’s birthday. I would make plans to have Sydne’s birthday party before I left or after I returned, but Sydne was never happy about this.
Just this past summer, the topic of Avatar came up. I asked Sydne why she seemed to feel negative about it. She said, “Mommy, you never asked us, you just told us you were leaving, as if you didn’t care how we really felt.” In that moment, it was as if I was hearing her for the first time. I really felt her sadness, her feeling of not being included in the decision, and her sense of disappointment and helplessness to change my mind. Why was I able to finally hear Sydne after 18 years? It was because I genuinely wanted to know. I had finally put my ego and defensiveness aside. I became vulnerable and open to hearing what she had to say, without judgment or needing to defend myself. I realized that I had used my power and position of being their mom to dominate my girls, not including them in my decisions and expecting them to be OK with it.
It was a huge realization followed by immense remorse! I called Sydne, let her know my realization, and apologized to her, promised to do my best not to ever dismiss her feelings and to align with her in the future. I felt full repentance and it was humbling. It brought me closer to Sydne and helped me stop my pattern on automatic. Sydne heard me out, felt my sincerity and forgave me, and I forgave myself.
Friends and members of our Christ Church family have prepared these daily reflections as a means for you to consider how forgiveness informs your faith walk during this holy season. They are a richly diverse group from many different geographies around our nation and globe, formed by a wide variety of traditions.