The stubborn resistance in me is palpable. I know that I know that I know that I need to write this down, but my insides are squirming because, well, you’ll see.
I don’t think it has taken me this long to view this situation from this perspective because it wasn’t obvious before now. It took me this long because I was in no way willing to view it in any way that might cause me to release my resentment over what happened. God has been prying it out of my hands for 8 years now, and yesterday, as I sat quarantined on my couch staring at the snow, in April, my weak, clinging fingers gave up their grasp. I gave it up and became open to seeing it from God’s point of view—from a compassionate point of view—from a “we’re all in this together” point of view, like I say when I stamp my autograph and tag line on most any book I sign.
So—here is the gist. Sorry ahead of time if it sounds like a poorly written 70’s Soap Opera. It will be hard to tell without specifics, but hopefully it is enough to help you see what took me almost a decade. I have mentioned before that there has been a good amount of drama/trauma in my life. It didn’t start with Leukemia. That was just the icing on the cake. And I mean that sincerely.
The emotional turmoil that came as a result of my husband’s mental health struggles and prescription pill abuse, as well as the reaction to it by some in our lives, including friends and some in our church, was a type of cancer that almost killed my soul long before Leukemia threatened to kill my body. The betrayal and loss was all-consuming. I had to work through mounds of hurt, sorrow, anger and even hate all day, everyday, for months. It gradually became less intense, but was still there, lingering, and could be triggered at the very sight of anyone from my “past” life. I lived in constant fear of seeing someone I felt had betrayed me or my family. When I walked in stores and restaurants I would scan the scene for “mean people” to determine if I might need to turn and run. I have, ashamedly, “run” more times than I can count. If someone forced me to repeat one of those 2 eras, I would choose Leukemia in a heartbeat.
One particularly painful thing that happened was that, seemingly, some of my friends who did not previously seem to have relationship with each other, became close. based on shared anger. At least that’s how I have been choosing to view it. They were not friends, but now (at least this is how I imagined it in my head) they could get together to talk trash about my family and bond. Who knows if that is actually the reason, but what I do know is that they stopped talking to me at all. I have been silently and not-so-silently furious and in softer words, sad and hurt about it ever since. I have clenched my fists and “set my heart like flint” as I squeezed the scrawny neck of this resentment with all the self-righteousness and unforgiveness I could muster. A couple of times my husband has made the mistake of suggesting that for my own mental health and sanity (and quite possibly, his ) I “let it go”…the nerve!
Like I said, God has been wrestling this away from me for years, and the other day, He finally won. I am not saying that I feel led to set up a play date with any of those people, but the revelation (and I am sure you are way ahead of me, but I can be pretty stubborn when I don’t want to do something) was this:
Maybe their friendship was not based on a common thread of hate. Maybe, just maybe, it was based on a common thread of suffering. And that is something I can understand. When I am hurt, I want to walk through it with others who hurt like me.
Maybe they didn’t like each other at all before (I don’t truly know). And maybe they were very different in many other ways. But, their common pain leveled the playing field. That is the entire premise of the “Recovery Community.”
In a fellowship I belong to, our closing says, “though you may not like all of us, you’ll love us in a special way, the same way we already love you.” We say that because we are there for one purpose and one purpose only. All other identifiers go out the window at that point. Politics, religion, and personal preferences are set aside so we can help each other work through the same-suffering.
When I had cancer, I became friends with others who had the same kind of cancer. They knew exactly what I was going through. I didn’t have to explain anything to them, because they already knew. I still don’t know what their views are on much else. What I needed at the time was someone to walk through my pain and understand me in a way no one else could. We looked for the places we were the same instead of focusing on our differences.
This new perspective, and my willingness to extend it to people in my past, feels good and bad. I am glad to see it from a less angry and sometimes psycho perspective, but it also feels a little strange.
It’s a monster I have been nurturing for a long time. I’ll have to remind myself not to feed it anymore. I pray that if you are feeding such a creature, that today you can “let it go”, too. Let it out.
Remind yourself that we are all wounded in some way, and sometimes we injure others while trying to process and manage our wounds.
Let us not take things personally that have nothing to do with us. Maybe choose to extend grace and compassion to someone who you have felt hurt by. Remember that our brokenness binds us together in unique ways. Especially today, remember that.