Today was the first really cool morning in several weeks. As I came home from my morning walk, I decided it was the perfect time to trim my three day lily plants – all the flower stalks were dead and the ends of the leaves were brown. I snipped the dead stalks with my rose cutters and trimmed the leaves quite drastically with my kitchen scissors. It was tedious work but it looked and felt great when I was done.
I find that tending my soul is a lot like tending a garden. This week, I’m coming to the end of processing a difficult social situation in which I was unfairly judged, then talked about, and finally the butt of some nonverbal rejection – all without my knowing what prompted it – hurtful in the extreme! I went through a series of reactions:
- Lord, was it me? No. But it took a couple of weeks for me to believe it even though God took away my initial pain very quickly.
- Lord, how did this happen? I heard a voice in my head of the person and their original words that lit the flame of gossip.
- The Lord prompted me to share my experience discreetly with a few of my friends, without naming names. They had neither heard nor participated in the loose talk, and their support was quite healing.
- I felt a surge of confidence, and began looking people squarely in the eye.
- I met with our group’s leader. We came to a mutual understanding and a changed role for me.
- Then, for about a week, I felt righteous indignation and mentally said the words, You trashed my good name – I want it back! It felt very cleansing to acknowledge what happened and it’s effect on me, even if only privately.
- Monday, all of a sudden, it didn’t feel good to be indignant. I felt myself cross a line into bitterness and petty accusation, so I decided to create a more forgiving frame of mind. I doubt those involved realized the extent of what they did.
- Now I’m planning to initiate a visit with the two people who I know began this and deliver a calm “I Message” of how much this hurt me and our whole group. I’ll urge them to repent and get right with the Lord, then assure them of my well wishes. I’ll practice the wording and feelings of charity so I can speak with the right spirit.
It was painful weeding out my budding feelings of resentment and growing animosity but the peace that followed was worth it. Then I remembered The Nine Steps of Forgiveness and Healing From Abuse from my files:
- Accept reality, come out of denial, acknowledge and condemn sin [but not the sinner]. BLESSING: A fullness of joy
- Protect yourself from further harm. [You have a stewardship to care for yourself.] BLESSING: Justice and safety
- Pray for your offender, with specifics.
BLESSING: Your heart is softened.
- Honest grief over loss and pain.
BLESSING: Freedom to receive real healing [not just stuffed feelings]
- Resist bitterness and animosity.
- Be accountable for your own reaction to abuse.
BLESSING: Control and personal power
- Receive the Atonement of Christ, face our own weakness and give it to Him.
BLESSING: Your burden is lifted.
- Let go of anger, pain, blame and shame/guilt.
BLESSING: Restoration of personal dignity
- Offer compassion and understanding [this is not approval of abuse].
BLESSING: Empowerment, fullness of joy (full circle back to Step 1)
My process didn’t follow this sequence in order, but I’ve covered the bases and am working on the final steps. This week, I looked Step 7 squarely in the eye and didn’t like how I was feeling. It wasn’t worthy of a Christian, so I told my ego to “take a hike”! I’m preparing to tackle Step 9 and am asking the Lord to give me the words, the compassion, and the confidence to undertake this in the proper spirit.
I think forgiveness is one of the hardest challenges we face, but it’s also one of the most liberating. It sets us free from the past, and it also sets those who hurt us free – to change or not. Then it’s between them and their maker, not between them and us!
If you’re feeling burdened by the past, please let the Master Healer help release you.