Sunday, November 23, 2008
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. -- Philippians 4:8 NLT
I have always had an issue with letting go. Whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual things, I have a hard time giving them up. I've sat in seminars, read books, studied Bible chapters, prayed, fasted, journaled, you name it, I've tried it, and yet, for some reason, as the Bible says, "like a dog returning to its own vomit," I go right back to it, the old habit, the old hurt, the same way of doing things. Don't get me wrong, some things have changed, and I have managed to get rid of quite a few vices, but there are still some things on which the Lord is working out in me.
Let me make it concrete - I have a hard time letting go of past hurts. I used to have a problem with forgiveness and all that went along with it, and now I'm to the point where I can forgive and even allow the people who committed the offenses back into my life, but right now, the Lord and I are still working on my revisiting past hurts. Small offenses, of course, are easier; I'm talking about the deep rooted pain that came from misdeeds against me in my childhood on through my adult years.
There are some people I've encountered who tell me it's so easy to forgive, who say, 'you have to forgive because Jesus says to,' that they don't have a problem with forgiving. These people I approach with caution, simply because I have a hard time believing them because often their actions speak otherwise. I do know that there are some people who forgive more easily than I and they are able to get past the past more quickly than I. Because I see how they are able to do that, I believe not only what they tell me, but I pay closest attention to their advice because, frankly, they're walking their talk. It's the other ones who spout so much advice and their walk belies their stories I stay away from.
See, I'm like most people, I like practical advice. If I hear you say it's easy to do something, yet I see you struggling with it yourself, I'm not going to believe you. On the other hand, if you tell me that you were able to get through something that you thought was going to be easy, that you encountered some obstacles along the way, that you cried or fought, or basically acted like the human being you are, and then you tell me how you did it, and how you are able to still forgive and get past the pain, then I'm more likely to listen to your story and advice.
So here I am, back again, struggling to get past some hurts that were perpetrated against me some time ago. I have gotten to the point where I can pray for the offenders and I can actually say (and believe) that I forgive them. Now, because the offense had such a profound effect on my life, I am trying to actually get past the hurt. I know I eventually will; it may take many years, or it may take a few months, but I am confident that it will happen.
This post came about because I was reading a book and a familiar phrase came up in one of the final chapters. It said, "if you hold on to the hurt of the past, you're just allowing that person to hurt you all over again." I've heard that phrase so many times before, but in that moment, it really hit home. I'd allowed the pain to get so deep that it affected every area of my life. And to make it worse, I kept revisiting it over and over and over again, even to the point of vowing that I would never forgive the perpetrators.
Well, now that the incidents are in the past and I no longer have any direct association with the perpetrators, I am trying to heal, and the forgiveness was the first step. I've taken that step, and now I have to stop revisiting the site of the hurt. That's where the scripture reference comes into play. Do you remember hearing some wise older person say to you at some point, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?" Well, that's how I'm healing. Instead of thinking of the bad that was done and constantly spewing venom about it, I now counter those un-Godly thoughts and words with life-infused visions and phrases. When my mind wants to revisit those past hurts and I feel that familiar tightening in my chest, I either let the tears flow and keep my mouth shut, or instead of cursing them, I ask God to forgive me for my own vile thoughts and I thank Him that I made it through alive.
It's been a hard journey, but the Holy Spirit has been with me the entire time, weeping with me, holding me, encouraging me, speaking peace to me and walking me through it. One day, I'll be able to speak about the past without crying or feeling any anger or bitterness, but until then, "The Lord is my Shepherd...He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul..."