As I sit here in rural northeastern Mississippi reflecting on the weekend I spent with my Father I thank my Heavenly Father for this time. It has been a series of decisions that led me to this exact moment, some good… some bad…all necessary.
A single moment spent regretting the decisions of yesterday steals the joy from today. We can’t change the past but we can apologize for it, ask for forgiveness, and atone!
Atone a·tone | əˈtōn | verb [no object]. make amends or reparation
Asking for forgiveness without atonement is like eating food and it just falling out of our bodies…not digesting it and letting it nourish us. Atonement is what changes us…it’s what shapes us…it’s what grows us.
To say “I’m sorry, I was wrong” and continue with the same behavior does nothing but destroy you and your relationships with family, friends, and God. Anything and everything is forgivable with Atonement…nothing is forgivable without it.
I spent a lot of time getting to know my father on a very personal level this weekend. I got to know the man, rather than Dad.
He told me story after story of the pain, suffering, torment, abuse, and addiction he endured and caused in his youth. He could have easily continued the vicious cycle of alcoholism, drug addition, and violence but he took a different path. That path led him to face many demons. He had no choice but to look himself dead in the eye and admit he was completely powerless.
Complete humility is the most powerful attribute any human being can have. When you can admit that nothing is within your power and you look outside yourself for guidance…you are unstoppable.
My life looked drastically different from my Father’s because of his atonement. Had he made the decision to continue on with the darkness that he and the countless generations of his lineage did before him, I assure you, my life would be very different.
Even though my Mother did not struggle with drugs and alcohol she had demons of her own. Demons she never faced. The only person my mother owed an apology to was herself. She needed forgiveness for allowing others to use and abuse her…she needed forgiveness for not believing she deserved better than what she was accepting. Her atonement would had come in the form of saying no to the men who wanted to take and not give in return. It would’ve looked like boundaries, self-respect, self reliance, and allowing herself to truly be seen.
My mother had an over-abundance of humility…too much actually. What she was never able to do was give what she couldn’t handle to God…instead the power was put into the hands of men who took advantage of her insecurities. I believe my Mother died with a heart emptied from all the love she gave but was never given back. Of course her children loved her but no one ever really knew her as a woman…as a human being.
I share this in hopes of opening your hearts to get to know the people in your life… really get to know who they are truly are, and more, to truly SHOW yourself! Allow yourself to truly be seen. If you have forgiveness to give…give it and atone for it. If you have forgiveness to give…give it. Now is the time…tomorrow is not guaranteed.
I want to leave you with one final thought. There is no amount of “thinking” in the world that will affect change. You can’t think your way into proper acting…you have to act your way into proper thinking. ACT…DISPLAY IT…MODEL THE BEHAVIOR. I don’t care how old you are or how much trauma you have caused or experienced in your life…you can give and get the forgiveness you need as long as you are willing to do the excruciating work…it will be hard…tremendously hard, but I promise you…it WILL be worth it.