I am; because you are. Ubuntu.

I am at an interesting chronological time in my life. There is a good chance, statistically, that I am roughly mid-way’ish in my life. My husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary last year, we have 3 boys that are almost 1/2 my age and becoming adults. My parents are likely entering the last couple decades of their life and I have witnessed my in-laws live into their 90th year.

This point in my life has me at a place of deep reflection and appreciation.

I have had the honour to witness my in-laws reflect on their life in their last few years and days, I have witnessed my husband experiencing their passing and his reflection on his life with them and now without them. As we raise our children together, we can’t help but notice and reflect on how our own stories and life experiences and our parents’ stories and experiences impact how we have previously and now parent and interact with our own children, both unconsciously and consciously.

I also have the honour of working with many different clients with many different stories and life experiences and yet see a common theme.

Most recently something hit me about this theme.

We are products of our environments, of our families, of people that we spend time with. We are formed and informed by our interactions with others. We can’t not be. Our strengths and our weaknesses, our values and behaviours, our fears and our beliefs are informed by this.

This isn’t what hit me.

We ALL have things in our past that hurt us – that we wish never happened to us or that we wish we never did, wish we never inflicted on others. We have all made some mistakes in our life.

This isn’t what hit me.

I work with many parents of children and I see over and over again how parents want the best for their children, they want to do ‘right’ by their children, they have their best interest in mind in their parenting. I see how parents do not want to repeat ineffective patterns of parenting and yet, sometimes, cannot help themselves.

This isn’t what hit me.

I most recently started to see and understand where new patterns, empowerment, peace, new capacity, resiliency and well-being stem from. It is not from fixing what wasn’t or isn’t working. It is not from fixing what is broken within us or others. It isn’t about finally healing a wound. It isn’t about becoming a better parent or a better human being.

This IS what hit me.

It is about acceptance and understanding of our story as it is. It is about forgiveness. Real, raw forgiveness. Forgiveness for our own human-ness and human-mess. Forgiveness and acceptance and understanding that, despite our best intentions, we do make mistakes, we do hurt, we do have wounds and we wound.

When we bare down and give ourselves the generosity of this gift, when we draw on the maturity that we have within us, that sees the larger story than the sting of our hurt, we find compassion. We find the part of us that can be with ourself and others in a new, conscious, loving way.

When we are truly and deeply compassionate and can look at our own ability to be human, to hurt another, to make a mistake, to see our story in its’ fullness, we can also forgive, accept and understand the story and actions of others.

There is an African word / philosophy that represents this more effectively than any English word that I am aware of. Ubuntu. I am; because you are. I am human; because you are human. The deepest parts of my humanity are reflected back at me, in you.

From here, a new theme emerges. A theme of parenting, behaving, acting from a place of choice, from wisdom, from maturity…and love.

At the end of life, the wish to be forgiven is ultimately the chief desire of almost every human being. In refusing to wait; in extending forgiveness to others now; we begin the long journey of becoming the person who will be large enough, able enough and generous enough to receive, at the very end, that absolution ourselves.

David Whyte – Forgiveness

Kristen Bentley