Hurt is real. Hurt cuts deep. It all seems to happen so fast but overcomes it's victim like watching something attacked in slow motion. The pain is real rather it was invited or not. It just forced it's way into my life. The offenses weren't ok nor will it ever be. Finally enough was enough. It all just kinda "hit the fan." They did somewhat apologize but too many years of mistreatment had already cast a large enough shadow to swallow up any effort made at all. I just felt so violated. I didn't know real people, must less Christians, could cross so many lines. I still can't wrap my mind around it. I found myself replaying the situation out in mind repeatedly only to decide over & over again how wrong it really was.
I remember hearing a preacher at a youth service a few years ago honing in on the topic of forgiveness. I vividly remember his analogy of it being like a poison that you drink for another only to realize that it's actually killing YOU. I sat there taking it all in. I completely agreed, but that didn't change the circumstances. My mind's replay feature never quit. After all, it.was.unacceptable.
Eventually we realized that something had to change. We prayed (or more like begged) God for some kind of deliverance. Well guess what? God ALWAYS comes through! He knows best even when we are living through situations that are way out of our control. He is still in control! He began leading & guiding us. During this trial, he called Nathan to pastor. That has been one of the best experiences of our lives! We were also blessed to purchase a beautiful 5 acres of land, build Nathan's dream taxidermy shop, & move on our new property. Nothing shy of a miracle from Heaven!!!
Even though things were looking up, making peace with this dreaded dilemma was still haunting me. The thought of having to be around these people literally made me sick. My pulse would race just by me thinking about being in their presence. Nothing they could ever say or do would change the past. Acting the way they did was inhumane in my book. I soon realized that my resentment for our treatment turned into my personal feelings towards them. I'm just being real here when I admit in type that yep, I HATED them with a passion!
I went on feeling angry. Yes, anger always seems to show it's nasty head somehow! I was angry at this falling our lot in life. What was done affected our whole family. It was so unfair! I was even angry at God for allowing this to happen as if we were super special & to be treated better than anyone else.
What stood between me & my peace with God? THEM! Wait, what did I do? NOTHING! It was more like what didn't I do. I definitely didn't love.
"God is love." 1 John 4:8
Letting it go seemed impossible which made loving them (after what they'd done) hopeless! Yet in all of this, God had undeniably blessed us, & I was determined to enjoy our new life more than ever before! Nathan was happy again. I watched him smile as the days passed. I watched the sun shine on him again as he worked in his shop. Yet here I was dragging around the clouds behind me. I could hardly go a day without these thoughts entering my mind. I had lost control of that completely. It was trying to become my new sense of normal. I was fighting back hard, but I was weak from the struggle.
One night while laying in bed talking, I just started letting it all out. I cried & told Nathan exactly how I felt. I told him how I hated them even though I knew I shouldn't. I told him how I couldn't get it all out of my mind. I don't remember all I said. There's just no telling. I do remember him wrapping me up in his arms of love like only he can do & praying. I didn't pray. I couldn't. I only cried harder & harder. I realized there was nothing else he could do which felt even more helpless. After a while, he fell asleep probably thinking I was doing the same. Instead, I got up. I got my laptop. I searched the topic forgiveness. I began reading scripture. I also came across & downloaded Dr. Luskin's award winning book. I did feel some hope but would my strength to fight or peace ever return?As the weeks went by, I had good days mixed in with bad. I kept reading & praying (maybe even reached the begging point again here). Dr. Luskin's book hit exactly in line with my feelings. I began to challenge my thinking. Instead of the "oh poor us syndrome" I had become accustomed to, I substituted "I am faced with a challenge & up for the task! I will not let them destroy me!" I began thinking of our situation as an opportunity for our heroic overcoming of an injustice. Slowly, I felt more in control. I could visualize trading the victim for the role of the hero. I realized that nothing would change the past but I am the ONLY one, by the help of God, who can enjoy living my future! Emotional stress from desiring to help them see their faults started fading away. It is pointless to try to change what cannot be changed or influence those who do not desire to be influenced. I had written "rules" in my mind that any person who calls themselves Christians are loving & kind, especially within reason, yet this was not so. I could not force this on others. Changing little words changes the thought process. Words are powerful. In reality, I can only hope that all who claim Christianity are loving & kind. The fact is, that cannot be controlled. Anyone can claim anything. Talk is cheap! Amen? It helped me to still have the best hopes but lower my expectations for how something has to turn out or someone must behave. My frustration began to lessen. As a result, I think about it less & less.
I realize that no one has life handed to them on a silver platter & could look around at many struggling with similar (or WORSE) circumstances. There's no amount of good you can do to deserve perfect situations on this earth. That's why Heaven is worth fighting for! For example, I can only hope & work to do my part to raise 5 beautiful, bright, happy, Godly children. The fact is they are gifted their own lives & decide for themselves. Many teenagers mar their appearance & flourishing minds with alcohol, drugs, etc which throws them into spiraling depression & on an ungodly path. That is out of my control. Similarly, this technique applies for my situation too. I can only hope for the best, accept what comes, make the best of it, let it go! Believe me, that beats the tremendous emotional distress, hurt, anger, hopelessness, & clouded judgement that spotlighting the situation brought. That was a recipe for living miserably! With all of that crowding my thinking, no wonder it left less energy for thinking through all the better options!
Looking back now I can see a glimpse of blessing through this nightmare. I am forever grateful for our new place! Without things rocking our boat, we would have never looked for anything more & missed out on our dreams that are living in right now! Also, I have learned some valuable lessons. I cherish my close friendships more than ever before! I am blessed with real, loving, caring friends in this world who are great Christian people that pray for me & will help me tackle anything! Whether I wanted this or not, I am obviously now more educated on how to deal with difficult people & possess a new boldness for dealing with tough situations head on. However awkward that is, it is necessary for survival with a healthy amount self esteem intact & a sound mind that you can be happy with.
The most important thing I've learned is that forgiveness is for me. It heals my thoughts. It clears my focus & frees my vision for what is important for my life. It's not excusing wrong or forgetting anything. It's about moving past it. I am not "bestest" friends with these people. I don't have to be. God didn't demand that. He asks that I love them because He loves them. I am not perfect or without error either. That's what makes us all human & faulty. Only covered through Jesus' blood can I be anything for Him. It's not all about me or what I want. I turn my problems over to Him because He can handle them all! I have greater goals to accomplish! I have a life for Him to live! He loves me, & I am valuable in His sight! I have been blessed by Him with an amazing husband & 5 wonderful kiddos & have too many positive opportunities for a great, successful, happy life to let anyone else define me! As I close this post, the old chorus that rolls over in my mind is, "I'm a child of the king! Yes I am! Yes I am! I'm a child of the king! Yes I am! I belong to the Lord! Yes I do! Yes I do! I'm a child of the king! Yes I am!" What more could I desire? Nothing. :) He is all that I need! He has once again made a way where there seemeth to be no way! I only had to let it go!