03 Sep Forgive? I’m not so sure
I originally posted this in February. Hope it speaks to you today. I know I needed the reminder that forgiveness is not easy but necessary.
My emotional scars are like a mark that’s been on my chin for 30 years. When a telephone pole unpleasantly stopped the car I was riding in, my head kept going, resulting in a bite through my chin and the dashboard, a smashed windshield, and a concussion. (Riding without a seatbelt in the front seat of a car traveling highway speeds in freezing rain is not something I would recommend by the way.) The blood and trauma were real. The stitches tangible. But the healing naturally progressed until I was left with a small scar that I’ve become familiar with over the years. It’s not a big deal, though it is visible if I look for it. I often ignore it, or accept it as part of my face.
I often talk about forgiveness and letting go of hurts. Moving on.
But the truth is sometimes I don’t always mind wallowing in my ick. I don’t want to ache, but I’m familiar with my own pain. I have massaged my wounds for so long, I’m comfortable with them.
I see the tragic events in my life sometimes like I see my chin. They are part of me now and I know how to work around them to get through the day, how to accept them. Even how to be thankful for them.
I’ve taken this acceptance as victory. I’ve preached forgiveness.
So I was shocked at my visceral reaction a few days ago as I listened to a friend tell me of something she forgave. The offense angered me. When I put myself in the place of my friend, I was ready to throw a tantrum. (Even as I type this, my pulse races.)
Knowing what I know about forgiveness, I couldn’t figure out why another’s story caused me distress. But I just knew I would have handled the whole situation like a big baby, stomping my feet, slamming doors, and spreading gossip.
Yet she was sitting on my couch telling me she had no choice but to forgive. Acting otherwise would have inflicted more pain upon both of them.
“But how?” I asked her. “HOW?!” (I may have yelled a bit.)
I shrank into my seat, grasping for some of my spiritual wisdom to come to me. “I couldn’t do it,” I proclaimed.
She again said she had no choice. Gah!!
Frankly, she is absolutely correct. She took the high road, the road of Christ. And she is better for it. She could scream and shout to anyone who would listen about the horrible person who dared mess with her. But what good would that do anyone?
I hardly remember the physical pain from the gash on my chin. In the same way, I am familiar with my inner scars and comfy with my issues, barely able to feel the fresh wounds anymore. That makes me believe I have this “forgive and love like Jesus” thing all figured out. But I don’t. I am broken and humbled yet again.
Lest I become surefooted in my own capability to step beyond pain, I sink at the feet of Jesus Christ and beg him to steady me, to guide me.