This is a response to today’s Daily Prompt: Beyond the Pale.
When was the last time you did something completely new and out of your element? How was it? Will you do it again?
There’s a long backstory to this, but it’s worth it, I promise! 😛
Forgiveness has been a major theme in my life for the past few years. For those of my readers new to my blog, read my title post, Forgiveness for Wanderers, which I originally wrote a little over a year ago. I am immersed in an interfaith community in college, and the human need for forgiveness as a spiritual exercise has come up in a number of contexts. I’ve talked to my Christian roommate for hours about the concept of grace and how it impacts her relationships with others and herself, and my Zen chaplain has given talks about the need to forgive others as an expression of non-attachment and letting go.
As many people know, it is a very different thing to talk about spiritual concepts than to practice them. During the past few years, it’s become increasingly clear to me that I hold grudges against a number of people, especially some who were once very important to me. In particular, I feel strong resentment for my ex from high school, Jake (name changed). Jake and I dated for one and a half years, from the time that I was 15 to soon after my 17th birthday. The relationship was hugely important to me at the time, and I still recognize that I grew immensely during the time that I was dating him. Jake ultimately broke up with me on the last day of school of our junior year because he was Jewish and I wasn’t, and he realized that he did not want to be with a non-Jewish person long-term.
Now that five years have passed since our breakup, I feel that I can better understand why Jake made the decision that he did. I have studied Judaism with the rabbi at my college in an effort to understand the feeling of solidarity and peoplehood that many Jewish people feel. At the age of 17, however, Jake’s choice was totally incomprehensible to me. Having grown up a Unitarian Universalist, I believed idealistically that all people could connect and marry despite differences. This breakup sent me into a spiral of years of insecurity and questioning of my beliefs. I did not talk to Jake for all of our last year of high school together, despite being in a small class with him.
I have come a long way in the past five years. I believe that I am better for my years of questioning myself. I am much more realistic about the flaws of the Unitarian Universalism, but I have chosen to pursue ministry in my denomination because I still feel it has great value. I have learned to choose to have confidence in myself. At the end of this month, I will be celebrating my one-year anniversary with my boyfriend – with whom I’ve seriously and frequently discussed marriage ;).
Now I come to story for this prompt – a time I did something new and out of my element. This winter break, I decided to contact Jake to talk again about our breakup and where we are now. I saw this as an opportunity for a personal reconciliation, a chance to live out the values I profess. Jake offered to meet at a local Starbucks, and I agreed. This isn’t a totally feel-good story about how we made up and became interfaith friends – to be honest, it was pretty awkward. Some things that he said about me and about Unitarian Universalism really did offend me. But to me, the most important thing was that I communicated to him (and to myself) that I forgive him. I forgive him and I forgive our relationship for all the pain it has caused me. It’s a new and important step in living out the values of my faith.