This past week I was given truth in the form of a very hard and old battle. I faced down some old bitterness and am now back to working on forgiveness. Does anyone else feel like we have to keep coming back to forgiveness way to often? No? Yeah, me either.
Let me tell you a story…
I once knew a woman. We’ll call her Bridget…because…well…that’s her name. She did some things to me that were mean and spiteful…in my estimation. When these things first happened I seethed over them for weeks and months. Then I stopped. I got centered and decided that I was wasting far too much energy on her. So I moved on.
Or did I?
I didn’t really move on…at least not entirely. The fact is that most of the time she doesn’t even cross my mind. But though I rarely think about this woman, when I do, I think mean thoughts. I think of all the ways I wish that I could get revenge. I plot the destruction of her career and her financial health in retribution for how she damaged mine. And though she only damaged my life for a season, in my revenge plotting I want hers destroyed. It is not an eye for an eye. I want her eye, her lying mouth, her bleach blonde hair…see…even now I go to the mean place and show a truly ugly side of my nature. *sigh*
I went back to the city where she lives this past week and the entire time I was there my spirit was in a loud noisy uproar. Spending time with people I love and who love me, namely Chad and Laura, helped tremendously. But another person, who I care about, expressed his doubt and I was hurt…all over again.
So I started wondering…
- Why is it so important for me to be believed?
- Why does the opinion of someone inconsequential to my daily life matter to my happiness at all?
- What would it take for me to move on, shake this bitterness, and forgive?
While examining those questions it occurred to me…this is not about Bridget. Sure…on a generous day I still think all sorts of unbloggable things about her. But I also know…just from my little bit of interaction with her that she is a deeply damaged person. I knew this about her when we worked together and I know this about her now.
It’s easy to recognize some of those things because I’ve struggled with them myself.
So really…hating her is just useless and unnecessary. Her self-hate is way more powerful a force in her life than my hate. She is a deeply flawed hurting individual. She needs care and understanding. She needs love. She needs…Jesus.
And how do I know this…because I am a deeply flawed hurting individual whose self-hate is more powerful than the hate of others and who needs care, understanding, love and Jesus.
I need to forgive her…even if she doesn’t want or think she needs my forgiveness. Even though I am not ready to forgive her…I am praying for a willingness to consider forgiving her. (Stan taught me that years ago in therapy and I’m falling back on my training.)
I need to forgive myself. For all the ways that I could have tried harder to push through her walls and be her friend or submit to her authority during what seemed like an eternity but would likely have been a very short season of submission in my career. I need to forgive myself for how long I’ve harbored this resentment and all the ways I’ve put hurt at her feet that hasn’t been hers to own.
I need to stop apologizing for my truth. I won’t change the story to suit someone else. I won’t cave into the doubt just because a couple “friends” doubt me. I will own the truth to the best of my ability and accept the reality of human weakness and tendency to believe what is easiest, worst, or most entertaining. I will do this with all the lies in my life that I feel have damaged my heart or my character. I will trust in the honestly of silence and stop apologizing with my words by repeating MY SIDE of the stories. This is the final time I will discuss it. This is the first step I take to moving on.
Over the past months God, using the matchless grace of God’s character, has stepped in to create transformation during a season of transition. God is helping me to make my bitterness sweet again. And though it is a long road…I am willing.
PS–Arizona is still not high on my list of favorite places…but maybe next time it won’t feel quite so much like hell on earth. Unless it’s summer…in which case…it’ll still feel like hell. 😉 heehee! (That’s for you Chad!)