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Friday, February 12, 2016

What's This All About?


I've recently heard or read several statements on forgiveness that have given me pause.  It seems that the popular opinion, at least for today, is that forgiveness is more about finding peace than anything else.  I think I can roll with that... mostly.  This is probably easiest (not to be confused with "easy") when the person (people, organization, community, etc.) who caused the hurt is legitimately sorry.  Undoubtedly, the best thing that can happen is restoration.  I love that!  I love it, because I think it is enormously important in the redemptive work in which we join God. 

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18, NIV).

I would venture to say that it is more possible than we would imagine and depends greatly on us! 

I definitely think this even works when we find ourselves in situations in which we have somehow been wronged and the offending party couldn't care less.  We forgive.  We forget.  Over time, things start to hurt less.  Life starts to hurt less.  At some point, in the vast majority of situations, we come to a moment when it's "over".  Most things don't hurt forever (although there are some - I am not minimizing those, at all), so one day we might wake up and find that it doesn't hurt at all.  We have peace.  Time moves on.  I love that, too.

But sometimes it's neither clear cut nor cleanly cut off.

The notion, "forgive and forget," is so much easier when there is either a sincere apology (confession, repentance) or when the offending person (people, organization, community, etc.) is no longer a part of our regular lives.  There really is something to, "out of sight, out of mind".  I'm not saying it doesn't still take ages, sometimes, to get to that point where you legitimately don't struggle with anger or tears or just being generally incapable of not replaying events over and over again in your mind.  But... when there are not constant reminders, healing does come.

I read these words, today:

"But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; assailants gathered against me without my knowledge.  They slandered me without ceasing.  Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked..." (Psalm 35:15-16, NIV).

At the expense of sounding overdramatic, I have occasionally felt like this!  Not often, mind you, thank goodness!  I think it is situations like this, though, that cause us to fall back, doing everything in our power to avoid the reminders.  Quite frankly, I do not want to see, hear, smell, or taste anything that might trigger a memory that makes me feel like that all over again!  There are honestly things I avoid because of the sensory reactions they might cause, even if they are completely unrelated to whatever is happening in the real, present time.  True story.  But it's always worst when the pain is fresh.

So, I had this moment several weeks ago when I knew that actual healing was taking place in my life.  It was a little humorous, really.  As it turns out, even if you set your privacy settings relatively high on social media sites, there are some things that will always be public.  At some point I changed my FB cover photo, and someone I really like a lot, but whom I also associate with a community that caused some significant pain in my life, made a nice comment.  I immediately responded with a one-liner that included the words, "miss you".  I hit "enter".  And then I sat there for a few moments, stunned.  For many months, I had not been able to engage anyone from this era of life, even in something incredibly insignificant.  And yet, here I was, honestly responding... positively... without hesitation.  It might sound ridiculous, but it was a much bigger change in me than it appears on the outside.  Right then and there, I had an, "it's over" moment.  That hurt is done.

When I hurt most deeply, I tend to go silent about it.

When I hurt, but it's not absolutely killing me anymore, I tend to type.

And then, when I reach the endgame, I file it away as one of those things I'll probably just talk about, again, if it would be helpful to someone else.

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7, NIV).

Well, goodness...  That feels good.


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