Tag Archives: Forgiveness

When is a house a Home?

For me, home means safety and security.  That is what our armed robbery almost destroyed.

It is also a place of love, comfourt, forgiveness and caring.  We should feel safe inside our homes, protected from the outside world.  But we should also feel secure in one other, and protected by one another.

The people in a home should be transparent with each other, yet have enough love to overlook a host of transgressions.  I am reminded of Liz Murray, in her book Breaking Night:  A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard of which I wrote in a previous blog.  Her parents were both drug addicts and she was out on the streets early on.  I kept wondering why Liz became the success story that she is in spite of her background and circumstances.  The only answer that presented itself to me was love.  Her parents were honest about what they were, and they loved her.  She never doubted that and it was this love that allowed her to rise above what seemed to be her destiny.

Inside a house there might be much or little, neither which make for a loving home.  Parents who admit their mistakes do.  Children who respect their parents though they might not agree, do.  People who accept one another’s faults, do.

Two, or four, or however many people living together have to be able to give one another space.   My Uncle and Aunt had seven sons, one after the other, nine in one house which was by no means spacious.  They had to learn to cohabit their home in a way that made them one unit, yet where each still had enough space to be an individual.

It is not always easy to share your space with others, especially if your personal bubble is big, and you crave a lot of ‘me time’.  But therein lays the secret.  That which hurts, grows.  That which scrapes and scours, builds.  That is what the people in your home do.  They build character in you, they teach you, and they grow you.

Left to yourself, you would never become what you are ultimately, capable of being.

On men, and feminism

Men are funny.  I love the way men just naturally assume that they know better, that they are superior drivers and that in fact, they are more qualified at most things than women.  My men specifically have an inborn confidence, and a belief that they can do anything and succeed.

From a very young age my sons believed that I was a bad driver, and they still do.  So does my husband and my Dad.  And, to be honest, it is true to some extent.  But that is another story.

Another amazing talent they have is the capacity to think themselves thinner than what they really are.  Women imagine themselves bigger, whereas most men think they look pretty good, even if they carry a “little” spare weight.

I have never been a feminist and never will be.  I believe men to be better chefs, mechanics, drivers and everything else.  But PLEASE!  I know there are exceptions to every rule and that there are women who outshine their male counterparts in all areas known to mankind.  I am just a bit biased.

I like a touch of male chauvinism, it suits a man.  Not the rude, overbearing, condescending kind, rather, just that little touch of superiority that makes a man, a man.  The type that affords a real woman a giggle.  Without it, women would snatch up the world’ pants supply and what would become of our society when all men turn into wimps, ruled over by slipper-wielding fiends?

While I understand why men would help with house duties when both partners work full day, I cannot begin to comprehend why men would do it when their wives stay at home.  And believe me; this phenomenon is on the increase.  I don’t only put this down to lazy women, but also to husbands not prepared to take charge.  Even more criminal are men who are forced into nightly baby duties when mommy stays home all day.  In Afrikaans it is called “slapgatgeid”, literally slackness in the posterior region.  But once again, this is just my opinion.

A home where the wife wants to be the boss is a house divided against itself, and a home at war.  Man was born and bred for the position and will fight anyone trying to usurp his authority without even realising why he is doing it.

I am of course referring to normal men, not bullies who beat their wives or lord over their children.

As with everything else in life, there has to be someone with the final say, the leader.  Every organisation on this earth needs one chief and a couple of Indians.  And in the home, the man has to be allowed final authority, even when he makes mistakes.  He too has to learn how to steer his family through life successfully but he will never learn without erring first.  We all stumble when young but as we mature, we gain understanding and knowledge.  Real love conquers all, and forgives all.

The most successful families I know, ones where the children are obedient and respectful and the wives lovely and confident in themselves, are households where the Dad has a firm grip on things.  These are families where everyone understands that Dad’s word is the final say on any matter.

Both genders have their place, neither to ever be above or below the other.  Instead, they stand side-by-side, shoulder to shoulder, with the women’s just slightly behind the man’s.  He is, and should be allowed to be, the head of the home.



Blood is thicker than Water

We recently had a family funeral.  It had been 15 years or more since I had seen some of those cousins but there was that immediate kinship.  It needed no words.  It is a bond without explanation.  A blood-tie.

I love my cousins and I love the idea of cousins.  I have almost 30.  We make a point of getting together once or twice a year, just to catch up and to have fun.

Cousins are nice for many reasons.  You are not that close to them that they judge, but not so far apart that they do not understand.  They accept you as you are, they don’t backstab or bite.  They have no need to.  They are your blood.   They knew you as a child and they know the circumstances that shaped you.  They identify with you.  They were a source of strength through each family tragedy.  They walked together with you, in your family shoes.

Aunts and uncles will always see you as a child.  They frown easier, like parents do, because they feel that they have a vested interest in you.  They have watched you from birth and wish the best for you.

Sad though are aunts and uncles that become grumpy with age.  Life is difficult, sure, but if you going to sit at a family barbecue with a sour face, why come?  Stay at home and you won’t be irritated or annoyed, nor will the people around you be inconvenienced by your disapproving face and under-handed grumbles.  And hell, if you have become a vegetarian and do not eat bacon, bring your own food.  Don’t sit there and complain about what is on offer when you have contributed zip.

I had to laugh at the funeral though.  An older ducky approached one of my aunts and said:

“Mary, is that you?”

“Yes”, said Mary, “And who may you be?”

“It is me, Sarah, don’t you remember?”

“Of course I do Sarah!”

Sarah stood still for a moment and looked Mary over, from top to toe before exclaiming:  “My Mary, but you have gotten old!”

Mary visibly froze, then slowly shook out her feathers:  “Well Sarah, you don’t look to young yourself”.

“But Mary, you look ancient!”

By this time I was rolling on the floor laughing but neither of them noticed.

“Now listen Sarah, I am seventy-three years old, what do you expect?”

Sarah tapped her foot:  “But you look seventy-three!”

Mary was turning red:  “How old are you Sarah?”

“I am fifty-six”.

With a satisfied grin Mary looked Sarah straight in the eye and said:  “Well, you also look seventy-three”.

And that was the end of that.

Comical as it was, it made me realise that these two had not seen one another for thirty or forty years, and that they have long since passed the age of niceties.  They say it like it is.  And the appearance of the other was indeed a great shock, a realisation of time gone by.

I was sad that I had lost a cousin whom I had not seen enough of.  I was more sad for my aunt and uncle and remaining cousins for the loss they will have for as long as they live.  But I was grateful to find that the bonds with my family were still intact and that it will always be.

Because in the end, blood is very much thicker than water.

I was just wondering …

If you have been friends with someone for a long time, let’s say 20 odd years, and that person suddenly grows cold and distant, you would automatically assume that you did something wrong.  Right?

Then, you would start working through the drawers and files in your head to find out what it was.  Sometimes you will locate it, but it takes time.  In the meantime, that person stews and stews and stews.  And occasionally, you just don’t find it.

Now this pisses me off.  If I have been your buddy for so long, and if you liked me enough to choose my friendship, surely you know that I will not hurt you intentionally.  So work with me on this one because I clearly have to spell it out.  I accidentally/unintentionally offended you.  You are my friend, I like you.  I value you.  I did not suddenly wake up one morning and decide roll over on you.

So why on God’s green earth could you not pick up a phone, write an email, send a text or a smoke signal to let me know that I did X, and that you are hurt?  After 20 years, do you not know that I would set it right?

If you believe that I meant to harm you, then clearly I have been sadly mistaken about you.

So now, here we sit.  I actually did locate the (what I imagine to be) offending file, in the drawer marked “Try something New” which by the way, had nothing to do with you.  I removed it from that drawer, changed everything to the way you like things done and filed it under “The Usual Way”.

So what now?  Once you see what I have done, are you going to become nice again and pretend that nothing happened?  Thinking that I am none the wiser?  Or will you actually say:  “Hey, that thing was bugging me but I did not have the courage to talk to you about it.  Thank you for sorting it out”.

The ball’s in your court.  I hope you surprise me.

Of this I am sure …

Love conquers all:   There is nothing that cannot be fixed with love, no hurdle that cannot be overcome and no wrong that cannot be set right.

There is freedom in forgiveness:   Holding on to resentment does nothing to the other person, but it destroys you.  When you let go, you are set free.

There is life after death:   Faith in things not seen.  Without this assurance, life is pointless.

It is never too late to make things right with your children:   No matter how bad we are as parents, our children love us and they will always be ready to forgive us when we say we are sorry.

Hope is one of the most important things a human can have:   Hope is a glimmer of light when you are stumbling through a dark night.  Without it, we might as well lie down and give up.

It is by grace that we are redeemed, not by works:   There is nothing we can do to make ourselves righteous.

Depression can be overcome:   By the right attitude, by retraining the mind and by taking control of our thoughts.

Kindness is repaid:   Always, unexpectedly and on time.

What you believe is what you will get:   What you believe in your heart and say with your mouth, is what you will bring into your life.

Each man is responsible for his own life and everything that comes with it:   We make the decisions that get us where we are, we cannot blame anybody else.

Anything the mind can conceive, we can achieve:   Full stop.

My throw-away Child

She received a call from her dad.  Did she want a kitten because the owner was about to drown it.  She didn’t, so I took it.  It had snow-white hair and blue eyes, and I named her Nicola.  I fell in love with Nikki, who was a boy.


I swallowed a potion to remove the foetus, if there was one.  Late that night the pain started, and the bleeding.  Then there was a little blob in the bath.  In my drug and alcohol induced haze I figured that was the end of it.

But years later as I sat on my knees in front of the rocking chair in Kyle’s bedroom, it all came back.  My second son was just a few months old.  I prayed, prayed in anxiety and worry and care.  My thoughts were so wrong and muddled.

The scene changed and a man in a black suit carrying a child in his arms walked towards me.  It was my dad, dressed in the suit he wore the day he died.  The little girl was about 5 or 6 years old.  She wore a white dress with a yellow sash around the waist.  She was beautiful with blonde hair and blue eyes.  And I understood her name, Nicola.  My little throw-away child.

Nikki, I threw you away but you were scooped up into the arms of your Father, where you are waiting for me.  You have forgiven me and long to put your arms around me, just like I do.

I do not know what your life would have been like had you stayed, I was such a mess.  But I do know that Heaven holds a special place for little ones like you, unconsidered, unwanted and discarded.

Thank you, my only daughter child.

How far does the sentence “I am Sorry” go?

I suppose you will think that it depends on the size of the wrong.  That a big transgression needs more than just “I am sorry” but that it would suffice for something smaller.

This is not true.  Most families carry specific injustices through the blood lines, so much so that they become part of the character of that clan.  When people get together, they inevitably bring up those incidents to re-hash them.  We have one in our family that has been with us for 35 years.  Every once in a while someone brings it up and everyone gets angry all over again. We all call for the punishment for the perpetrator, for justice!   Then the matter will die down for a while and in time rear its ugly head once more.  Never to end.

Well, yesterday was such a day.  The children of my generation again confronted someone from our parent’s age group about a wrong he did us and has yet to confess to.

And let me say here, it was no small matter, he molested us and it caused baggage that we had to drag around with us all these years like bitterness, unforgiveness, unkindness and others too hideous to mention.

There is nothing worse than family members gossiping about one another and harbouring collective resentment.  It causes rifts among people and divides relations.  I always think about those that have passed on, the elders.  How would they have felt had they been alive to see this?  And what
if they do see it?  It must cause them great pain when their children and grandchildren murder one another in thought and word.

I believe in forgiveness.  Without it we become bitter and twisted and it manifests itself in our bodies as disease.  I am not suggesting that it is easy to
forgive.  Even if you truly set your mind to it, you might still have to forgive the same person a 100 times a day for the rest of your life.

Forgiveness is given a huge boost if the offender can say that he is sorry.  By doing that, he throws the ball back in your court and gives you the freedom to decide for yourself what to do.  It puts the onus on you.

Confession brings relief.  Think of those stories where the victims of crime have had the opportunity to confront their perpetrators in jail.  And the tears when the wrong-doer admits guilt and apologizes.  Of course it does not diminish the crime nor does it erase the effects.

Whenever I watch a show on the Crime Channel, I always wish that the accused would confess to the crime and spare the family the horrid lengthy trial where at the end, they will still wonder whether the person did or did not commit the crime.  Owning up brings closure.  It builds a curb at the end of the road.  The victim is thus given the option of stepping over the curb, pretending that the road carries on, or to be done with the matter.  It empowers them and therein lays justice.  And justice is such an important principle that the legal profession exists to uphold it.  Everyone longs for justice, we are just wired that way.

Under special circumstances, for instance if the wrongdoer has died, the victim can still find release without a confession.  You can stand two chairs facing one another, sit on the one and pretend the dead person is sitting on the other.  Then go ahead and tell them exactly what you think of them, how what they did affected your life and what you felt the consequences were.  Once you have put it out there, have said everything you would have said had the person really been there, and have  screamed or cried or whatever was needed to deal with the emotions that surfaced, you can say:  “I forgive you”.  If you really mean it, you will find peace, even if you have to say those three words for another month or two.

To come back to my point.  Yesterday this family member phoned the ‘children’ involved and apologised for what he had done.  I thought that they would be
flip and kid around like we always do.  Instead, they very seriously told me that they cannot believe the weight that had rolled off their shoulders.  It is true.

On the downside, what are we going to joke about now that this matter has been resolved and forgiven?