Some holidays are so sweet that we hold on to them long after the last leftovers have been eaten. This was no such holiday. It was fraught with tension and confrontation and family dynamics of the sort that keep therapists and counselors in the business. More than once I found myself on my knees in my bedroom tearfully praying for the Holy Spirit to extend grace I didn't/don't feel in myself. It was hard and long and stretched our small family in many ways as we hosted a larger one around our table.
Here's what I have learned about myself in the last five days: I care about what people think of me and am shocked to discover that they question my motives. But I don't want to hold long accounts. No matter what. So when apologies come, so too, must forgiveness. This is Christ's mandate. I know this.
However. Here's the hard truth about myself. Sometimes I say I forgive before I actually have. Sometimes the cut is deep and the blood is still running when that apology comes and I say, "Of course, I forgive you," when I actually just want it over with. I want the pain to stop. But it hasn't. So a couple of days later--like today--I wake up, bone weary and aching with it because I've been wrestling with it through a couple of long nights. And, now that the pain isn't quite so piercing, I discover that I am still angry. I haven't come close to forgiving what I said I forgave.
And it's at this moment that the true work begins. With God. Facing the facts of the situation and the other person, looking at that person's pain and what made them do and say what was said to me. And why.
This is a hard post to write. I'm a flawed human being who sometimes holds grudges. One who is sometimes wounded deeply by the grudges held by others. I want to be more than I am, more formed of the Kingdom than of the world. And this holiday has opened my eyes to the truth to how far I am from who I pray to be.
I can't do anything about what others think of or say to me. What they believe my motives to be in any situation. Beve often talks to students about 'owning what is yours to own.' And what is mine to own here are two things: what I might have done to hurt the one who lashed out at me (still trying to figure that out with Beve) and--more importantly-- how I respond. No matter what. And He's not ambivalent about what my response must be. "Forgive others as I've forgiven you." There's no wiggle room in those words. None at all.
Instead, I go to my knees again. And ask Him to help me do what I cannot do on my own.