Last night I dreamed that I was getting married and nothing felt right. I was wearing the wrong dress and the wrong shoes–I did not recognize the people around me. My father, instead of standing with me behind the scenes–was in the crowd and took his time getting to his place. The pastor even called the wedding a funeral.
But worst of all: I was marrying the wrong guy.
I knew him, but we were friends a long time ago in high school. I have no idea how he appeared in my dreams–but it was obvious that we were not in sync. We missed each other’s cues and I kept looking around expecting someone else to show up instead.
In short, I knew he was not the one for me.
Today, I feel the weight of my actions and wonder if I can reconcile them to my beliefs. I feel like a victim who does not know they have been harmed. It is as if I am a prisoner who does not see the open, waiting door. It should be easy to move when you live for excuses, but I have taken intentional steps away from the disease of harmful decisions and repetitious cycles of apathy.
I thought I was past “triggering out” and using my previous abuse as an excuse to wield unforgiveness as if I have never done anything wrong. When I personally make mistakes, I want understanding–I need the person I hurt to see the pain behind my mask of pride. But sometimes, we have to be broken beyond what we think we can take.
It is only after we are shattered that we are open to being saved.
In my weakness, I can admit my truth. I can tell you that I have issues. I have mommy issues and daddy issues and issues with authority. I have issues with accepting people who say that they love me. I have a hard time believing sorry when the behavior does not change. I have a hard time reconciling with people who chose to walk away.
My dream reminded me that I am not perfect. It reminded me that I can want something so badly, that I am blinded to the danger staring me in the face.
I pray my reality does not reflect the same mistake.
I wonder what happens to beautiful souls who lose their courage to the bitter realities of life. A part of me knows decisions are made that subtract from happiness and cause undesirable consequences–but another part of me cannot begin to analyze the cost. Instead, I look out of my window at clouds that promise oncoming cold and heavy, relentless rain. Because even nature releases its burden before it starts all over again.
The cycle of life reminds us of how precious time is while we attempt to live out our plans and work towards individual designs. We are planners and organizers. Dreamers who spend hours thinking of ways to get the very best of everything. Yet sometimes, we intentionally procrastinate against the necessary hard work required of us. Turning our backs on the truth of who we are.
There are times of testing that give way to amazing moments that we could have never achieved without grace. In these difficult moments we forget what is important and get defensive when our ideal is lost. When I personally measured my commitment to others I found I could have done more when my friends were hurting. Instead, I chose to bury my head in the sand and act as if nothing was happening. I ignored those public posts and dismissed their agonizing cries for attention–assuming that a person who needed help would just come out and ask for it. But it is difficult to anticipate help when you are ashamed of your actions.
For the better part of a year I ran from every single one of my callings. I dug in deep with isolation and spent quality time in my own self-imposed rejection. At the time, I felt wounded by so many things that I became accustomed to and accepting of pain. It became a daily habit for me to wake up and go through the day like a zombie–oblivious to the hurt I was feeling. Eventually, that hurt became a part of the way I communicated. I lashed out and broke confidence with people who wanted more for and from me. Now, I realize I could do nothing for them unless I wanted more for myself.
Now that I want more I need to take consistent steps in the right direction. It means I cannot run from difficult conversations or fill silence with resentment and apathy. My calling requires me to be active in the pursuit of my emotional, physical and mental health. When I am wrong, I must admit it and walk down the path towards reconciliation and forgiveness. Likewise, if someone hurts me (accidentally or not) it is up to me to be honest about my feelings.
What they choose to do with my truth is NOT my responsibility.
Brace for impact.
The older I get, the more I understand–the less I care to remember. People are often tied to their grievances. They replay in their minds what another person did or said that hurt them, sometimes indefinitely. Carrying pain in their memory. Looking for an opportunity to remind you of your character flaws. Not realizing they are really just exposing their chains. Remembering bad things keeps you bound to that experience. Instead, I would rather choose to walk in love–knowing that forgiveness requires much more than words.
We say we forgive, but really we have just absorbed the pain. I read once that emotional pain lasts for only 12 minutes. Anything longer than that is thought to be self inflicted. While I do not fully think pain can be healed in this time frame, I believe that person was saying there is an end to the heartbreak. Prolonged “suffering” eventually leads to indifference. Once apathy sets in, everything begins to change. When you focus on the hurt and refuse to put it in its place, you are really saying you do not want to be okay. Therefore, becoming numb is a choice.
I do not wish to hurt or wound anyone. I am weak and need to be constantly admonished for my insensitivity. Here, is where I require the most grace–when I repeatedly do things I know are not right to do. I come broken down and humbled, with a repentant spirit–knowing I am made captive by the object I have grieved. I am willing to do almost anything, but a person who will not forgive is like arsenic to the bones. I sit in my cell and I wait to be released.
Every day that passes without restoration leads us further into a party of passivity. Cold shoulders develop and now the question is, who can care less? I refuse to play in the symphony of the lost. I know who I am and I am called to be free. The music in my heart begs for peace and unity.
Division is a tool used by our adversary who, does not want us to succeed. Honestly, are we going to allow him to speak for us?
I will not let him speak for me.
But I am still the captive.
You hold the key.
Forgiveness is a powerful drug.
I have been told forgiveness is not for others; the ability to forgive sets the forgiver free. It is true, forgiving another person releases you from the pain of resentment and bitterness. Forgiveness allows you to walk in your purpose properly.
But, imagine if you take that sentiment even further. Imagine expressing your forgiveness openly to the source of your pain. What follows is, you free the other person from their shame. What a powerful declaration of love! How much more can we give to others if not to release them from their grief?
We are all guilty of professing love everlasting only to shrink when it comes time to love unconditionally. I love you is not, “What can you do for me?” Love is, “I see your affliction, how can I help you get clean?” Love is selfless, it is the ultimate sacrifice. We must continuously lay down our burdens and strive to get it right.
If we are called into a collective community, we should do everything in our power to walk together intentionally. We are called to expose our weakness. We are meant to drag our respective lions out into the street. How can we claim to be accepting of love when we refuse to be seen completely? Likewise, how can we assume love for someone else when we abandon them at their greatest need?
If I want to be free, I have to surrender my reactive state at the altar daily. The need to be in control and my all-consuming pride must be consistently and violently laid to the side. I realize I have hurt people because I have not been forthcoming with the scars I have buried alive. Deep down at the root there are weeds that bear emotionally distressing fruit. Fruit that thrives on dissension and disorder, wreaking havoc on justice and truth. Fruit that demands more and will not be satisfied.
But, water is life. (John 4:13-14)
Water cleanses, and purifies.
We may know what we need–
but it is up to us, to drink.