I Write With Tears
When I was a teenager, I had a series of events happen in my life that left me feeling worthless and of absolutely no reputation. I was a kid and felt that the adults around me weren't acting like the adults they were supposed to be. I felt judged and condemned by a community that was supposed to be the ones that looked most like Jesus. Worst of all, I felt like everything was my fault and all blame rested solely on me.
That's when I went away to Kansas City. I had the most bitter-sweet time of my life. I was horribly alone. As someone who had always been surrounded by family, that would have been difficult enough without the extra heartache I was facing. I was in so much pain. However, I was also in a school that incorporated time in prayer and worship. So, I went to the right avenues to overcome that pain.
I leaned on the only one I could in that time, God.
I would spend my time playing my keyboard alone in my room or lifting my hands during prayer that was running in the wee hours of the morning. I would talk to God every time I laid my head on my pillow. I would talk to Him when I was looking for a parking spot. I would talk to him in place of eating lunch certain days of the week.
It was there that He met me, and that He made me whole again.
It was slowly that my healing came. Have you ever tried to watch a wound heal? Depending on the wound, it can be long and excruciating. Sometimes, you don't even see when the wound finally disappears or heals over into it's scar. It was like that.
I stared at my wound. I talked to God about my wound. I begged Him to heal my wound. I begged him to help me forgive, to let go, and to allow healing to come to my heart. That's when He took me through my process of healing.
Like the setting of a broken bone, I had to be broken first to heal properly. I had to be dealt with within my own heart first. He showed me my own depravity. He revealed to me the wrong that I had committed. He let me see my actions and feel the weight of my own decisions that I had made.
I was wrong. That's where the healing really began.
I had fought against the "injustice" of others responses like nothing you've ever seen. Imagine dropping a child in the middle of the ocean and watching them flail with every ounce of their energy to stop the waves from coming. Kicking, punching, screaming in complete defiance totally believing that if they threw themselves hard enough at the wave that it wouldn't take them under. Again. And again. I tried to stand up on arguments in the shape of surfboards I had made for myself. I launched every sharp shell I could pick up hoping it would slice the wave. And every other ocean metaphor you can think of. ;)
It was so sad. It's sad even now looking back and remembering. Then, the Lord in all of His kindness started opening up my eyes to see my own heart. What had I become in the middle of this ocean? What had I done? What had I said? He was gentle, but He was direct. He was showing me how to take responsibility. More than that, He was showing me Himself. I was given revelation of His character and His deeds through His word and spontaneous song.
This Man had done nothing wrong. In fact, He had done everything right! He didn't respond poorly like I did. He didn't manipulate like I had. He didn't use His words to harm like I tried. Yet, He was silent as accusation came. He was humble as mocking words filled the air around Him. He was still as nails entered His hands. My hands were already stained.
I was wrong.
This verse became more than just words on a page in my life.
I have been forgiven MUCH. How could I stand rock in one hand and pointing my finger with the other?
It went against everything in my nature, down to my very bones to just... let go. My defiant, wild spirit couldn't just let them walk away after stabbing me so deeply! There was a fighter in me that would burn the whole house to the ground just to make sure that flea was dead. It took time. It took prayer, earnest prayer. I came to the end of the rope and was just dangling. There was nothing else to be done. There were no more rocks to pick up. There was just me.
You see, I wasn't ready to be saved yet. So, He let me dangle. I decided that. I chose that. I thought I could fix things. I thought I could get what I wanted. I. I. I. Then, when I called for Him, He was there! With all of His revelations. With all that He was.
I started forgiving, not because anyone had asked for it, but because I knew it was my responsibility, and it's what He did. And I was tired. I was so tired of fighting for myself. I was genuinely repentant. I saw my errors. I knew what was mine to carry, and that I couldn't be responsible for anyone else's. That was His to take care of. He helped me! He changed my heart. He gave me His spirit. Ever so slowly, my prayer of forgiveness started reforming me. He helped me understand, that no matter what anyone else did or said, I would stand before Him for my actions, and they would stand before Him for theirs. What a scary thought! That's when He gave me His heart for them. My tiny rocks and shells would be nothing compared to the judgement of a Holy God defending His little girl. There is a difference between praying for someone's demise and praying for vindication. He helped me to know the difference.
The word says to pray for and love your enemies. If that wasn't the hardest thing I've ever done, I'm a liar. I couldn't get away from these verses though.
He made it so clear. And I wanted freedom more than anything. The line between knowing when you're being taken advantage of and when you're being like Jesus is almost non-existent. That's what I came to realize. If we are called to be like Jesus, if this is the goal in the end, then I had to follow His example. But, if I don't stand up for myself, if I don't fight for me, who will?
I stood believing His word. I filled myself up on the words David wrote. He is my vindicator. He is my shield. He is my avenger. Vengeance is His in due time according to Deuteronomy and Romans. I knew in my heart that I would be vindicated even if not on this side of eternity. I knew I was taken care of. I didn't have to fight anymore. I could let go. I could rest. I could be still.
Months passed. Seasons changed. My prayers remained the same. Until one day I did something I thought I could never do. I sat across from people who I thought broke me, and I apologized.
I took responsibility for the part I had to play in my own pain and in theirs. I didn't want a war. I didn't want a fight. Not anymore. I waited expectantly in that meeting to hear words similar to my own. I waited for an apology, some acknowledgement of a wrong-doing on their end. But... it didn't come.
You know what though? I didn't fight. I had done all that I could do. I did the right thing. I knew it on the inside of me just like I knew His word said that each man stands before Him for their deeds. I didn't do it for their apology. I had forgiven myself, and I had forgiven them.
Bitterness lifted its nails out of my heart as the grip of unforgiveness let go of me.
Grace poured into my life. I could feel His smile on me. It felt good to follow His instruction. It wasn't quickly. The healing was still daily. It wasn't easy. Forgiveness was a choice I said aloud when I didn't feel like it. I decided I would never forget how painful that experience was, but as months and years went by, I didn't feel the pain anymore.
The goodness of God doesn't just end there in my story.
All of that was enough. I was free. I was whole. I didn't feel a sting anymore. I didn't need anyone to pay for any mistakes. God had changed me from the inside.
That's what made it all the more sweeter when my apology did come. 7 years later. Words that only God had spoken to me about myself and that situation came from the mouth of my one time enemy. Heart full of mercy and grace I was able to stand and offer forgiveness to an apology I thought would never come and that I didn't need anymore. See, I had forgiven without an apology. But, God had promised me vindication.
His ways are so much higher. They don't always make sense. In fact, I feel as though they hardly ever do. But, this I know, Psalm 27:13-14, "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord."
I write with tears in my eyes not because of a wound. I can say now that there is no remnant of even a scar. My eyes flood with gratefulness at the faithfulness of my God. It is imprinted on my heart for eternity.