Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Cutting the shore line
I awoke in the night, surrounded by so many proverbial pre-schoolers vying for attention, prodding me awake. I came to the surface of sleep, opened one eye to catch the time 2:38 a.m., (insert "groan" here), but I was not quick enough to feign sleep. And the entire crowd of phantoms cheered, "She's awake!"
It was as if there was a rather large disturbance in the universe -- at least on my side of the bed -- while my husband slumbered away, undisturbed.
Of course, there are always the familiar fears that lead the parade, terrifying situations and the usual notorious suspects that I thought I had tossed out the front door a long time ago. "Surprise, we're baaaaack!" Hurt feelings, rejections, harsh words, sprinkled with razor-sharp bits of panic. They were all there, along with their first and second cousins, some of whom I had not yet met. Over and over, they churned around me with their accusations and bullying cries.
"O LORD," I prayed. "Give me Your peace, or give me direction."
The hours ticked by.
As I turned over one way and then another, listening to the wind howling outside, waiting for the first shadows of dawn, the disturbance continued. But now as each word and situation came to the surface to testify against me, instead of fighting against them, trying to justify, trying to forget, trying to go back to sleep for even a few minutes before the alarm rang, I felt like the LORD was whispering, "Forgive it. Forgive it and let it go."
I would pull up another fear or anxious thought. "But what about this?" Forgive it and let it go. "But what about THAT?" Forgive and let it go. "Even that?" Even that.
Forgive as you have been forgiven.
Forgive them back. Forgiveness starts the healing.
After two hours of tossing and turning, I sneaked out of the bedroom, made the morning coffee, and this is what I wrote down, the words spilling over each other in my journal:
Forgiveness doesn't have to wait for someone to ask for it. I can go ahead and in my heart forgive the person, forgive the offenses and the wrongdoings, and the harsh words meant and unmeant, and not keep accounts. Forgiveness is not saying "Oh, that's OK," condoning the storm, but letting go of the bitterness before it metastasizes like berserk cancer cells on a campaign of their own, before the hurtfulness hardens into ammunition for another battle, before it builds an impenetrable wall in the way of relationship.
Forgiveness means you are more important to me than anything. Forgiveness acknowledges that we all mess up, all we like sheep going AWOL.
Forgiveness is not snapping a plastic shield in place to keep from being hurt again. It is not like the non-stick coating on my frying pan that gives the appearance of "I don't care." But instead significantly, forgiveness forms the stickiness of relationships.
"Confession and forgiveness are the concrete forms in which we sinful people love one another," stated Henri Nouwen in In the Name of Jesus.
Forgiveness is the highest form of love. I love you no matter what. My love for you is not based on you performing to my standards, not based on your lack of perfection or mine, but just because you are you, and I love you. Just like God loves us.
On my bathroom mirror right beside my ragged typed out passage from Romans 12. 9-21, I scribbled on an index card another quote of Henri Nouwen from his thoughtful book Home Tonight: "But constantly forgiven, we have power to love others more."
I have read those words and repeated those words and engraved those words in my heart for the past three months. Because I am forgiven, I can love again. Constantly forgiven, I can love even in this. I can love. Because He first loved me. (1 John 4: 19)
But after my reluctant "conversation" in the middle of last night, I feel like I need to add, "But constantly forgiving, I can love others more." Again. And again. And again. Forgive and let it go. Not time to move on, but time to stop picking at a wound already forgiven.
I DID ask forgiveness. I don't know if I was forgiven. "Doesn't matter," I felt like God was saying, "Forgive and let it go." Before their asking, before even recognizing the wrong, before acknowledgment of the hurt, before realizing what was done -- maybe even without EVER realizing the devastation that was caused --. forgive it in my heart and let it go. Start the healing,. "IT STILL HURTS," I cry to God. Yes, I know, says my Savior who died for me.
There are no small forgivenesses, nor any too big for God to redeem.
Am I the one in need of asking God's forgiveness? For not forgiving others, or asking their forgiveness? For even my "5 percent of fault" in what escalated, or how I responded, or to what I am still clinging?
"Our agony comes through the willful stupidity of our own heart. We won't believe, we won't cut the shore line, we prefer to worry on," notes Oswald Chambers in his classic My Utmost for His Highest.
Forgiveness cuts the shore line.
Am I the one not letting go? To let it heal? To allow God to redeem?
After all that time last night, it turns out it was not fear or anxiety that kept me from sleeping. It was not the adversary's accusing rant. It was God's still small voice and some unfinished business with Him.
Be kind to one another,
forgiving one another,
as God in Christ
Ephesians 4: 32
and let it go.