Have you ever wondered why we find it so difficult to forgive ourselves?
“Did you try a magic eraser?” I shook my head no but remembered seeing some soft white rectangular blocks in a box autographed with a picture of Mr. Clean. “They are out on the porch with all the cleaning supplies,” my wife answered. Pleased with my success I reached into the box and pulled out two pieces of foam each the size of an ivory soap bar. They were soft and smooth and were made of a material you could use to wrap your grandmother’s china during a cross-country move. “How do you use these?” I asked. “Just run them under water and squeeze out the water.” Following her instructions I said to myself, “You have to be kidding.”
I took the first one and began to rub it across a white shelf that had been marked by several years of sliding pots and pans. “There is no way this is going to work,” I said to myself. With several firm strokes the marks vanished. They did not just soften. They were gone. In disbelief I began to use strokes I had not seen since The Karate Kid movie. Each time the result was the same. Every mark vanished. I moved onto cupboard doors, baseboards, the washer and dryer and a mud sink. Mr. Clean won every time. “These things are unbelievable,” I called to my wife. I actually became gleeful when I saw that the box was still over half full. “You can even rinse and re-use these things,” I said to her with an ever-growing amazement. “Does everyone know about these things?” “Pretty much,” she answered. My eyes searched the room as I successfully deported every scuff and stain I encountered. Not once did I fail.
As parents we all leave scuffs and stains on our children. As the years pass we search for a Magic Eraser to wipe away our mistakes. We sand, paint and remodel in hope of becoming a better parent and become fatigued, scuffed and stained. Due to these challenges parents are often blinded and lose sight of the passion and joy beneath those scuffs and stains.
Parents search for the right proportions of resourcefulness, self-reliance and teamwork. By blending these traits and patterns within a framework of responsibility parents strive to raise a child who is respectful and cooperative rather than obedient. Learning how to care for oneself and for others separates exploration from entitlement.
Parenting is never easy. Every child-rearing marathon is a race across deep hot sand and many obstacles. Some of these obstacles are self-made and others are not. This marathon causes many to become critics, victims, worriers or perfectionists. Each of these stains and scuffs distract us from our goal, hides our inner beauty and changes the ways we love and live.
Forgiveness is your magic eraser. It allows you to accept and forgive yourself and others for choices made and lessons learned. Forgiveness provides each of us the opportunity to reach out to our children and parents unburdened by the failure of decisions made to again become fueled by love. The next time you see Mr. Clean and the magic eraser remind yourself your future is not yet written. Your future need not be determined by your past but by how you use your magic eraser called forgiveness.