The soul cannot forgive until it
is restored to wholeness and health.
In the absence of love - how can one forgive?

With an abundance of love, starting with one's self,
forgiveness becomes a viable opportunity.
-Nancy Richards

Saturday, March 15, 2008


A friend of mine told me a beautiful story of appreciation after she attended a funeral. She said that a man stood in front of the Church to give a eulogy and said:

“Before I start my eulogy, I see a woman here named Carol that I haven’t seen since I was a child. I grew up in a very unloving home. My parents were mean to me. I was afraid to grow up because, I didn’t look forward to the day when I would have to grow up and be mean too.

“I always looked forward to the evenings when my parents would go out and have Carol stay with me. She was so kind. Each time she babysat, she played with me, talked to me, and when she tucked me into bed, she read me a story, gave me a kiss and a hug, and said goodnight. She changed my life. When I was five years old, I realized that not all adults were mean. I decided that when I grew up - I wanted to be just like Carol!

“Every so often, people can literally change the course of our lives and they never even know it. Sometimes we don’t have the opportunity to tell them; now and then we aren’t aware of the impact at the moment; and other times we just didn’t risk the vulnerability to share. I’m grateful to have the chance to tell you Carol that you showed me a different way to live. Your simple gestures of love helped me pave a new way of life. Thank you!”

I share this story because, to me, gratitude is different from appreciation. I can sit and write in my gratitude journal all that for which I am grateful, but in order to appreciate - I must be in relationship.

For instance: I am grateful for sunsets, but I appreciate a sunset when I actually sit and watch the sun go down. I am grateful for my Aunt, but I appreciate her when I tell her how thankful I am that she is the only family member who didn’t abandon me during our family estrangement.

I often tell others, or write in my journal that I am grateful for my children, my aunt, or my friends, but a light bulb moment happened for me when I realized that I should tell them. I started telling my Aunt, - I am grateful that you drove out to sit with me during my PTSD episode. And my friend Nina, how grateful I am to her for changing my life by being the first person willing to "bear witness" to my abuse. Or my gentleman friend – I appreciate your support during the times when I haven’t been able to be fully present in the relationship. Or my children - I am thankful for your understanding while you've coped with the effects of being the children of a survivor.

Appreciation is more vulnerable. It is also more gratifying.

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