Choose Your Hard

(We received this beautiful letter from a reader and with her permission, wanted to share it with you.  Since making changes in life really can be hard, we loved her insight about choosing which “hard” you want to experience.  SO good.  THANKS, MARINA!)

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Dear Danny & Mara,

I wanted to share a little bit about what I have learned about forgiving.  This has not been an easy thing for me.  I grew up with a mother who had suffered an abusive and neglected childhood.   My whole life I struggled to feel loved by her, and even though I knew that she had shut off her emotions in order to deal with her difficulties (which continued into her adult life) I didn’t know how to forgive her for the way she treated me.

I went to my brother-in-law who was raised by abusive, alcoholic parents and yet radiated peace, joy, love and forgiveness.  If anyone could help me, he could.  He told me that I had to tell the truth about the situation and quit wanting things to be different.  He challenged me to love my mom without expectations, to quit worrying about how she treated me and to focus on how well I loved her.  I wrote a list of all the ways I could show her that I loved her.  I had written a long list in my heart of all the things that she had done to hurt me and I had to throw that list away and focus solely on my new list.  I started working my way down the list of things I could do to love her.  When she did or said something hurtful I went back to my list and my intention to love her regardless of how she acted towards me.

After about three months, she came to me and said that I had changed, that she had always felt that she was walking on eggshells with me, but that now she felt relaxed around me.  I had prayed for a change of heart towards her for years, but it was making the decision to actively love her no matter what that changed my heart for good.  We have a very sweet relationship now and when she needs someone safe to talk to she calls me.

This experience has made forgiving easier for me (like that muscle memory you talked about in class), but it is still hard sometimes.  I was in another difficult situation where my Bishop wasn’t helping my son in the way I thought he should.  I won’t go into details here, but my son was very vulnerable at the time, going through chemotherapy for cancer and dealing with some difficult issues in our family and with friends.  I felt so protective of my son and yet wanted to show respect for the Bishop, too, even though I felt strongly that he was in the wrong.

I went back to my brother-in-law for help again. (He is wise and giving.)  He asked me how hard it had been for me to feel these difficult feelings.  I expressed how hard it had been.  I knew that I would feel so much better if I could release the anger and resentment that I was feeling but I was deeply struggling with it.  He then asked me how hard it would be to release my negative feelings right then.  I said that would be extremely hard.  Then he said something that instantly helped me begin the shift.

He said, “Choose your hard.”

Oh, that’s right.  I had a choice, and since both of them were hard why wouldn’t I choose the better way?  I humbled myself, owned my feelings, and went to talk to the Bishop with a kind, understanding attitude.  My Bishop responded to me positively and my son was the beneficiary of that exchange.

I know that things don’t always work out as positively as the two situations I have shared, but I have found that when I have love in my heart, miracles often happen.  Both of you embody that trait.  Thank you again for all you are doing to bless the lives of so many, including mine and the people that I love.

-Marina

(photo via The Constant Buzz)

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14 Comments

  1. Bri!!! July 18, 2012 at 4:08 am - Reply

    Marina, I ADORE this letter! Such wonderful advice. I love the idea of choosing my hard!

  2. Katrina July 18, 2012 at 4:32 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for this letter. I really needed to read this and I wish that I could help some of my family members to see life this way. It really is hard no matter whether you hold a grudge or forgive, and hopefully I can remember to choose my hard for the best. Thank you.

    • Anonymous July 18, 2012 at 6:45 am - Reply

      I have just copied this and sent to lots of people who could use some help with this too… Maybe this can be a seed that will grow in them…

  3. Anonymous July 18, 2012 at 6:46 am - Reply

    Marina, Mara, Danny,

    Wow! God bless you all and the brother-in-law to be helping us awake to these things and change our lives for better! Thank you so much for this letter that became a post!!! ; )

  4. Charlotte July 18, 2012 at 9:03 am - Reply

    I had the same issue with my Mum, for the same reasons – she had a bad childhood and I felt like she carried that around with her in a way that made her act in an unloving way toward me. I've been trying harder to get past it instead of dwelling on it in the last year and our relationship has improved drastically, improved a large amount by her meeting a man that loved her for who she was instead of trying to change her.

    Great piece x

    • mara July 25, 2012 at 5:49 pm - Reply

      Charlotte – that's amazing. So inspiring. Thank you for sharing. I just love hearing about people's triumphs in making changes. To me it's one of the most difficult but also incredible things humans can ever do…

  5. Alyssa July 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    It's as though this blog speaks to whatever place I am at. I'm dealing with the loss of a job opportunity, and it's hard. But knowing that it could have resulted in problems for my boyfriend and I would have been harder. I chose the hard. Thank you for this. Thank you.

  6. Chantel July 18, 2012 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    I love this!! I need it so much in my life right now, because some relationships that are hurtful, you can simply separate yourself from and then you're free from that pain. But other relationships you can't get away from, and you have to learn how to love through them. This is a GREAT example of that, and it's given me a lot of insight for my own life.

    Thank you!!

  7. Roxi July 18, 2012 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    Guys, I LOVE your blog! to give thanks, I nominated you for the "Thanks for writing" Award! thanks so much for sharing your journey with us with so much love and kindness!
    http://roxiciopei.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/thanks-for-writing-award/

    • mara July 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm - Reply

      So sweet of you!! Thank you so much…

  8. Livyb July 19, 2012 at 1:15 am - Reply

    This is really good, good, good! Thanks to Marina for agreeing to share. And, thanks, as always to Danny and Mara for the message.

  9. Rachael Sasha July 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    This letter really spoke to my heart. I love it.

  10. Jessica July 29, 2012 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    Just used this letter in my sacrament meeting talk on marriage. Thanks Mara for sharing and Marina for living and learning this.

    Choose Your Hard has been My motto for the last few weeks.

    Thank you!!

  11. whimsicalaries November 11, 2013 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    How do you forgive when the pain is still so raw, and seems to be eating at every part of your very being????? http://whimsicalaries.wordpress.com/

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