• Susan Stopinski

Forgiveness & Kitchen Floors

Forgiveness - the place where every story turns a page.

"There is a saying that "to understand is to forgive."

But that is an error, so Papa used to say.

"You must first forgive in order to understand. Until you forgive, you defend

yourself against the possibility of understanding.

If you forgive, he would say, you may indeed still NOT understand - but you

will be READY to understand...and THAT is the posture of Grace. Marilynne Robinson

1986 was the hardest year of my life.

It was the year my life was altered by divorce and I wasn't sure if even God

would be able to scrape my sad broken self off the kitchen floor.

But He did.

Through friends, through strangers,through my daughter, through books,

through music, through writing.

There were knocks on my front door, just when I felt panic; warm soft arms

wrapped around me to watch a movie; stories with coffee; stories with wine; my first smile that turned into a laugh and Campbells Chicken Soup that made me feel there might just be a reason for the fall to that kitchen floor.

Perhaps so I could finally look up and see there was something bigger, something greater.

And I did. And there was.

Since 1986 God has used those "ashes to wings" days of my life, placing me on

many kitchen floors with other women trying to turn the pages of their story;

reaching for the light. Just like me.

I am always asked about forgiveness.

And I always tell them the only thing I know for sure: what I learned on my kitchen floor.

"You must first forgive in order to understand."

It took me a long time to "understand" even that much.

When there has been betrayal in a relationship, our human tendency is to

sometimes hold onto the damage of that time as if it identifies who we are.

We stay on the kitchen floor.

But the floor is only for lessons. Your not meant to live there.

Which is why Forgiveness is so very important.

It is to release YOU.

When I started with "I forgive you" I didn't feel a thing. Not a thing.

As time passed and my life moved in positive directions though, those 3 words became

very powerful to me as I realized they opened my heart to understanding many

types of forgiveness in life, not just my betrayed relationship through divorce but

also family or friends...and myself.

"Until you forgive, you defend yourself against the possiblilty of understanding."

I have found and I believe that you will know forgiveness has begun

(or been completed) when you recall those who hurt you and you feel compassion.

The best gift you can give yourself is to ready your heart for this time.

I can still remember the moment when forgivness for my ex-husband was complete.

I stood in the sunshine of a summer day hearing that his wife had left; he was going through a divorce.

I felt his pain and my awareness of this fact was sweet honey to my soul.

"I forgive." It turns the page in YOUR story. It gives you a new chapter.

That is the one worth concentrating on.