I have been looking up the definition of blessed and blessing. Have some interesting perspective and have had some recent conversations with people about what it really looks like to be “blessed.” I read my 4 devotionals to see if there was something from today’s reading that God might want me to use. Well, it’s either the chemo making me feel nauseous or God telling me to write about what he has been telling me to write about for a few days. I just really don’t want to. It gets me worked up to talk about it and I like to feel a bit more like I have just had a mild dose of pain meds. So here it goes (Dangit)…
I am relieved to be back in the hospital this week. Partly because now I can stop “waiting” to come back in and be doing something productive ( phew…that waiting is rough!). The other part of why I am relieved to be here is because I am “SAFE” here. It’s a beautiful, not to mention fairly unhealthy, combination of escape and denial. Most of you know it’s been a challenging few years for us; for me. Losing long-time friends and an entire church family and working full-time and my husband starting a new career and downsizing our home by half ( all this within a months’ time), and yada yada yada- it has been a major time of growth, to say the least. I know we all have struggles. But the hardest, most constant turmoil for me has been the haunting of painful relationships that have been lost. The hurt and betrayal I feel, whether it was intentional on their part or not, has been debilitating some days. After much work and prayer, it’s gotten SO much better, but it is most definitely a daily, often several times a day, choice to forgive. To let them “off the hook.” I am not sure this is a choice I will ever NOT have to make on a regular basis. It’s been 4 years and just when I think I am “good”, I run across someone who triggers memories of pain and the “squirrels” are off and running again. Since I have been out of the hospital and in public lately, God had apparently felt it necessary to have me run across about a half-dozen people who I struggle forgiving. ( if i have “run into” you, don’t panic…i didn’t have the guts to actually interact with those people, duh!) I start sweating, I can’t focus on anything, and get grouchy at my family. That’s a sign that I’ve given over my serenity to someone else. Letting them live rent-free in my head. When I am in the hospital, people are only NICE to me. And I only invite NICE people to come see me. I protect myself from “mean” people and hide. But deep down that unforgiveness is still festering, raring to go when I get out. Exhausting. I read a lot on forgiveness and here are some things I am learning that keep me relatively peaceful, happy and free of resentment (but…It is a daily journey. Praying, reading, choosing, all necessary. But, STILL HARD).
*Blake and I went to a place called Blessing Ranch for a few days a couple of years ago. In talking with a counselor there I confessed my motive for even being WILLING to forgive certain people: “I don’t want to forgive these people. But, I know God says I have to forgive them. SO, because I want God’s blessing and want to be in communion with Him MORE than I want to hold a grudge, I choose to forgive. ” That seemed really lame and I was embarrassed to admit it, but to my surprise he reached out, gave me high-five, and said, “I call that NOBLE. That’s exactly what God wants; for us to love HIM and HIS ways MORE than the way WE want to operate.”
*Now, that’s the kindergarten level of forgiveness. It really doesn’t involve me having any NICE feelings towards those I have to forgive. That part takes time…and lots and lots of prayer and practice. I have had guilt about this because I feel like I am generally a “nice” person. I don’t LIKE to wish bad things on people or want to run them over with my car. A reading i came across a couple of years ago, and, as “luck” would have it, was my reading for May 11th, says some pretty poignant stuff that reminds me there are options that i can live with more authentically: “God loved me not because I was lovable, but because IT WAS HIS NATURE TO DO SO. Now, He says to ME, show the same love to others-‘love as I have loved you. I will bring any number of people about you who you cannot RESPECT, and you must exhibit My love to them as I have exhibited it to you.’ Let me look within and see His dealings with me. The knowledge that God has loved ME to the uttermost, to the end af all MY sin and meanness and selfishness and wrong, will send ME forth into the world to love in the same way. God’s love to me is inexhaustible, and I must love others from the bedrock of God’s love to me.” Whoa. What a relief: God doesn’t demand that I RESPECT my enemies, only that I love them whether I respect them or not. I can do that. I can do that and still be in good graces with God. Besides, when i think of how he forgives me and the grace I need just to make it through a day, I am more willing to “let” him offer it to others. I want my NATURE to be such that I am like God in this-that there is no deliberation about extending love or forgiveness-it just happens because it is MY NATURE TO DO SO.
I have much more to say on resentment and forgiveness; much more to confess…but it can wait for another day. My counselor at Blessings Ranch suggested I write a book about forgiveness called, “Forgiveness: It’s Still Hard.” And so it is.