A troubled young man
About a year ago, we had a young man come into the retreat house one morning asking if he could stay a couple of nights. He was traveling and his place of employment would pay for his lodging. I did not know what his job entailed, but he told me that he was on the road for about two weeks every month.
He did not talk to anyone for most of his stay, but he seemed deeply troubled all during his retreat here. Not in an agitated way, but it was how he presented himself. His eyes cast down, hunched over and his face was drawn. On his last day, he wanted to talk to me, so we sat down and had our discussion. I can’t go into detail, but let’s say that he was responsible for an accident that left another person disabled. It just happened; a moment of inattention that happens to most of us when we drive and then instantly the tragedy happened. He does not remember it happening, just the aftermath and the life that he believes he ruined. It was something that occurred many years ago, but he could not let go of it.
He could not forgive himself, even though the family has, knowing that it was just a tragic accident and was not intentional. He had a lot of ‘if only's’, but they only made it worse for him. He could not forgive himself for something where forgiveness was not actually needed. He did help out the person that was injured in the accident, but it did not bring him peace. Yet he was here seeking it.
As he talked, he seemed to see dimly how he was causing himself a great deal of useless suffering because of his inability to forgive himself. He asks me how he could stop it. So I only said that the fact that he finally asked himself that question could be a sign that healing was in place and he needed to continue to pray and allow that healing to continue. For the first time in the two days he was here, he smiled, though it was a tired one.
He did tell me that he was coming to understand that there are a great many situations in life that can only be lived through until things fall in place. He felt that things were starting to come together at last and most likely because the family and the person injured have forgiven him and he is friends with them. So he left and said that he will try to come back for he felt that something important has happened that he could not put his finger on. I think in some way he named it, but not on a completely conscious level.
I did not feel frustrated over his situation for I believe that things do ‘settle’ if we allow time to do its work and to seek to make amends the best we can. This young man was doing that and perhaps that is what allows things to settle when we simply say “yes’ I did it” and allow life, grace, and God to slowly lead and heal. It is not as passive as it sounds, but to be aware of one’s inner life on a deep level.
To forgive ones-self can be one of the most difficult hurdles in life. Unless this is done all we can do is keep picking at ourselves or seek to run from it. Neither leads anywhere, but just another circle around a well-worn track.--Br.MD
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