Have you ever been so hurt, you had no clue where to begin to unravel the mess you’re in? In those moments our joy seems almost suffocated and choked out of us doesn’t it? We hesitate to step outside of the gray zone because it’s safe. We can see the right and wrong of our actions, we watch our joy crushed and fleeting and still we continue to use our words, our actions and brokenness as weapons of retaliation. Even worse, our tongues inflict hurt not only into the lives of those we love but deep into our own hearts in the process. When joy flees, and un-forgiveness moves in, all our hidden scars and hurts come to light, especially the ones festering just under the surface. We draw lines, wrong or right and worse we stop listening, our compassion flees and lives are shattered.
Our insecurities in life tend to guide us more than we know, pushing our buttons, lashing out at our joy, stealing our ability to relate and love. We find ourselves overtaken by the hurts we have suffered, the wounds we have nurtured and we lose sight of everything precious to us. Our fears take over, consuming us, blinding our hearts, then our anger strikes and before we know what’s happened we’re devoid of joy, empty and wondering what the heck happened. Unwillingly or not, we become slaves to our resentment and bitterness when we sit down to a table of carnage, feasting, like cannibals on our own. From experience, we tend not to listen, we hear, but we don’t comprehend. Instead our response to what we perceive as a wrong, only allows anger to overtake our compassion and understanding, and our willingness to forgive is lost.
Life Lesson # 7: Forgiveness is a personal gift we give ourselves.
Not sure why we tend to exchange truth for the grape vine, or how we confuse good intentions with wicked ones but we get everything so entwined when we’re angry our view is obscured. By the time we reach this particular intersection, we’ve lost ourselves in anger, pride and our need to get even. Unbelievably, when our wrongs are ousted and uncovered, we desperately want forgiveness extended to us, yet we struggle with the ability to offer the same grace when the tables are turned. Gossip, mistrust and lack of empathy are like an infection, taking over, going viral and destroying our relationships. When the dust clears, our ability to forgive, to love and be loved is gravely damaged. How can we push those away we say we love without first looking inside, at ourselves? Why do we have this need as human beings to always be right, no matter whom or what it costs us?
It never fails I can't help but find it rather amusing when I learn things about myself, seemingly only those “in the know” have privileged access to. Oh the places I’ve visited but know nothing of, how ‘bout those words I said without actually saying, or things I’ve apparently done without being there in person to do? It’s crazy how people in general, spend so much time listening in to the misinformed and still make judgment calls, drawing on assumptions without facts and ultimately deciding to draw guilty conclusions without a second thought. I’m totally guilty of this myself, we are all, but the outcome of our circumstances depends on our willingness to forgive and to let go. Uncovering our joy again isn’t a matter of rejecting the hurt, no; it truly comes in our response to dealing with the aftermath. This is typically a character defining moment, sink or swim, do we stop the bleeding, work to heal the differences, forgive or do we continue to push the knife in deeper?
When we reach the end of ourselves, at the end of the road when we see the executioner’s rope hanging, we have to decide, is the price of being right worth the cost? Are we truly ready to hand over our joy for the hurt we’re hanging onto in exchange for un-forgiveness? Why should we hesitate when it comes to mercy and grace? My challenge to myself and to you today is this: Don’t let your joy burn out, don’t let anger consume you; give yourself the opportunity of grace and the chance to change things. Stop taking the easy road, bending with each strand of gray. Stop concealing hurts, slamming doors on those you don’t understand, instead take a deep breath and be bold enough to offer forgiveness in exchange for pure, real joy.