The balance between forgiveness and justice

I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness today. Yesterday I wrote about the mother of the boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure, and that whole situation sparked these thoughts about forgiveness.

Forgiveness can be such a difficult thing, and it seems to me like the hardest part of forgiveness is letting go of the desire for justice, which if we’re being honest here, is really a desire for revenge. You can still learn from something that someone has done and create new boundaries in your life as a result, but also be free of any malice towards that person.

I was in a serious relationship after high school that ended with a lot of hurt on both sides. At the time, it seemed so appropriate to be mad at him, and to carry around that anger because it felt protective. If I was mad at him, then I wasn’t feeling any loving care for him, and that would keep me from hurting. It wasn’t until several years later that I thought back on him and that relationship and realized that I felt no anger, and no malice. All I felt was a sadness at the pain that we had caused one another. I didn’t wish him any ill, only hoped that he had been able to find happiness.

That experience helped me to learn a lot about what forgiveness looks like. I saw this video about forgiveness pop up on facebook today (we’ll just assume that the universe wanted me to think about forgiveness today) and I felt like it reinforced that same idea- That you can feel nothing but love for someone who has committed grave wrongs against you. And that’s really one of the most beautiful parts of the Atonement- it takes care of justice, and relieves us of the burden of making sure that someone pays exactly what they should have for the wrongs they have committed.

I really loved this talk I found tonight by Elder Oaks, because he points out that we can use the wrongs we see or experience to teach us, or change us, or help us to create protections in our own lives. I love this line in particular, from a victim of childhood abuse who is quoted in the talk: “I will not be judged for what happened to me, but I will be judged by how I let it affect my life. I am responsible for my actions and what I do with my knowledge.”

As an extension of that, Elder Oaks points out that we can make judgements about a situation, but must refrain from making judgements about a person. I can hear a story about a boy who falls into a gorilla enclosure and decide that when I take my kids to places like the zoo, that I will be extra vigilant in keeping a close eye on them, so that I can hopefully protect them from the same type of tragic accident. I can make that situational judgement while still maintaining feelings of love and care for that boy’s parents, it is not my job to judge them.

I think Elder Oaks says it best when he says: “We can set and act upon high standards for ourselves or our homes without condemning those who do otherwise.”


From one mother who makes mistakes to another

Have you heard about the Silverback Gorilla that was shot in order save the four year old boy who fell into it’s enclosure? The internet is all a-buzz with the story, almost every reaction I have read is criticizing the “lazy” and “negligent” mother.

I watched the video of the incident, and it absolutely wrenches my heart to think of how terrifying that must of been for his mother. Not only would the fear for your child be overwhelming, but the intense feelings of guilt that that you could have or should have prevented it… I can’t even imagine how that would feel.

It is a tragedy that in order to save the boy, the gorilla was killed. But I certainly believe that the value of a human life is higher than an animal’s, even an endangered one. I think the little boy’s life is more valuable than the gorilla’s, and I think his mother’s life is more valuable than the gorilla’s, and thousands of people on the internet are well on their way to ruining this woman’s life.

The mother’s name is Michelle Gregg.

Did you know that she has four children? I have two children, and it is already impossible for me to keep them both perfectly safe at all times, and mine are not even very agile yet. Do you know how many mothers have lost track of their child for just a moment?

Do you remember the mother, Cherish, who accidentally left her baby in the shopping cart at the grocery store? The hashtag #IStandWithCherish was started, because so many mothers connected with the ability to make a mistake like that. And how that one mistake should not define her life, or cause her children to be removed from her, or cause her to be placed in jail for negligence. Mothers all over the world related to Cherish and wanted her to receive the forgiveness and mercy that they would hope to receive if they were ever in her shoes.

I’m not going to say I know the right thing to do in this situation, because there are a lot of details that I don’t have, and I’m not in a position to judge anyway, but I am choosing compassion and mercy and forgiveness on this one. I’m choosing to relate to a mom who I’m assuming is feeling terrible enough that this happened on her watch, and I’m choosing to extend the compassion and forgiveness that I hope would come my way if I ever ended up in her shoes. And I’m choosing to rejoice with her that her little boy is safe and well.

Using a short-post card

Tonight I’m going to be using one of my “short blog post” passes. Marty fell asleep just barely after the kids did and I’m ready to join him. It was so nice to have Marty home all day today. He’s been working like crazy lately, 17-20 hour days, I kid you not. Thank goodness for Sundays, and for a husband who honors the command to keep them holy. We might all die if he didn’t take these breaks once a week.

My [current] favorite treat-to-sneak RECIPE

Something about eating food while the kids are not around makes everything taste about a thousand times better. I just ate almost an entire pound of strawberries all by myself. And I’m not ashamed in the slightest, because that’s a lot better than three scoops of ice cream ya know? (Full disclosure: ice cream is not off the table for the night).

Strawberries are on sale right now at Sprouts for .88 cents per pound! Eighty-eight cents! Usually anything under $1.50 is a good deal, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them this low. I bought six pounds on Wednesday. They’re all gone already. I bought ten pounds today… but I have a family breakfast thing on Monday that I’m bringing some to so that’s my excuse.

Anyway, I was going to tell you what I did to my strawberries that was SO yummy and reasonably healthy, and by “reasonably healthy” I mean better than three scoops of ice cream. I set a low bar for healthy ’round here.

This is a single serving set of instructions, if that’s helpful. This has been my go-to nap time/bedtime indulgence this week.

Step one: Cut up a bunch of strawberries, sort of bite size bits. Cut however many you think you will eat.

Step two: Cut up about five more, because you want more than you think you do.

Step three: Put a couple of heaping scoops of yogurt on those strawberries. I happen to love Greek Gods yogurt, it is so so tasty. I love the honey vanilla flavor, but I tried their honey salted caramel flavor this time and while I don’t love it as much by itself, it’s still great on these strawberries.

Step four: Mix the strawberries up until your slices are all coated in yogurt.

Step five: Sprinkle granola all over the top of your bowl of strawberries. I’ve been using the cherry vanilla granola from Sprouts because that’s what was on sale this week. I don’t think it matters which kind, as long as you like it.

Step six: Consume, and roll your eyes back in your head because it’s so yummy.

Do you like how I tried to make it sound like I’ve come up with something new and exciting but it’s really just a fruit and yogurt parfait? It’s nothing fancy but I sure feel like I’m splurging to get to eat so many strawberries!

Do you sneak treats when the kids aren’t around? Tell me in the comments down below what your favorite things to sneak are!

Full disclosure again: I had already finished one bowl of this before I decided to blog about it. I wrote out the blog and then decided that it needed pictures, so for the good of the blog, I sacrificed and made a second bowl. I should probably take ice cream off the table for the night now. 🙂

Popping in for a slurpee

So, remember that time when I was having what felt like an existential crisis about being a mom? I didn’t quite call it that in the post, but that’s what it felt like. As I was trying to dig through the intense emotions I was having in that moment, one of the feelings that was hiding in there was “I’m going to be miserable as a mother forever”. I feel downright crazy typing those words out now. Something about really intense emotional moments makes thoughts like that feel true.

That was Tuesday. Today is Friday. Today, I dig through my emotions and find thoughts like like “I got this”, and “I must be doing some things right!”. The last two days, I have gone places with both children, by myself, and nobody died or got injured or ended up in tears. We ALL had an enjoyable time, and were better for having had the outing. Oh, the things that feel like huge feats after having two babies in two years.

Things were not perfect today, nor were they perfect yesterday, but I feel stronger. I feel hopeful. I feel like I have seen a light at the end of a tunnel (not the tunnel, just one of the many tunnels this life will send me through). I see Carolyn getting more and more capable every day, and being able to be out and about for longer stretches of time without needing to nurse or nap. I see Peter listening when I ask him to stay close or come here. I see moments that would have ended in disaster just weeks or months ago, going smoothly.

These first couple of years with kids has been so constraining. I had a lot of independence get sucked away very quickly, and that adjustment has been really difficult. I remember driving somewhere when Peter was still just a few months old and seeing a 7-11 and thinking that a slurpee sounded so good. That thought was immediately followed by realizing that in order to get a slurpee I would have to unbuckle him out of his carseat, carry him in there with me, try to fill up a cup while holding a baby, hope that he wouldn’t burst into tears, pay and leave while holding a cup and a baby, and load him back into the carseat, all while trying not to leave the slurpee sitting on the roof of the car. I didn’t stop for a slurpee. It was this moment of realizing that I wasn’t going to be “popping into” places anymore that hit me like a ton of bricks and felt suffocating. (Maybe the real issue here is an inappropriate love of slurpees?)

What’s funny is that looking back on that moment now, those things don’t sound difficult anymore. What’s the big deal to unload him from the carseat? I’ve done that 2,793,820 times. That is popping in. The days of going places alone are so far gone that I don’t miss them anymore. Besides, I’ll just throw the baby in the carrier and boom, hands free.

Maybe all of the things that feel like they will be everlasting burdens today, will one day drift into normality and I won’t notice the weight of them. The burdens I carry are not getting lighter, but it’s a pretty neat thing to realize that my strength is what’s improving.