Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A New Broken

I recently returned home from a two week trip in Vienna, and the warm welcome I had envisioned quickly turned dark when I was faced with a loved one's bitterly painful betrayal.  Less than 24 hours into my arrival back in the states, I struggled through sleep deprivation turned depression to process the unexpected unpacking of hurtful actions.  It all seemed so unfair given what I had already endured spiritually, mentally, and emotionally during the weeks I had been away.  I simply didn't feel strong enough to handle a single thing more. My first full day back, I walked through the hours mostly tearful as I asked God why He would allow something so heavy to be put on me at a time when I was already so weak and vulnerable.  Since then, 2 Corinthians 12:9 that says "My grace is sufficient for you..." has continued to make its way into my mind and heart.  Well "I can't do this," I told the Lord, but with every "I can't" He reminded me with Philippians 4:13 that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This brought me to the bigger problem. I didn't want to.  Mine wasn't a problem of strength or ability because with the Holy Spirit, both were remedied.  Mine was a heart problem and I was only just beginning to see the shades of a new broken.

In any circumstance that causes us pain, most of us have a natural response to get out of the situation as fast as possible. If I accidentally step on a mouse trap, I don't sit there and think of processing my feelings about it. I jump around like a fool and reach down to release my foot from the pain. I want my foot out of the trap as quickly as it stepped into it.  It's an easy enough fix, but unfortunately, our relationships don't work that way.  If a friend or loved one injures us emotionally in some way, we don't usually find ourselves waving goodbye never to deal with the person again.  Admittedly, there are days when this looks like an appealing choice, but it certainly doesn't teach us much.  I've found over the years that I'm often changed by the circumstances that cause me pain, and how I'm changed is usually a direct result of my own choices.  In taking power back from the offender, I get to choose whether to be made better or worse by what happened.  I choose to be made better.

It's the easiest thing in the world to stay mad, bitter, resentful, and unforgiving.  Even as I write this, I'm feeling a mixture of each of those things.  The real challenge, however, is to release them all and forgive, and it's some of the hardest work we will ever do.  My new level of broken can form a foundation of bitterness or it can grow and be transformed into beauty and righteousness.  Isaiah 61:3 tells us that God will give us "a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." Unfortunately, I can honestly say I don't have it in me to let go of the anger I feel.  I don't sense a generosity of forgiveness welling up in me and I certainly don't long to make the other person's path easy.  Part of me wants to cut ties and forget the relationship ever existed, but then what? The pain would still be there.  Unlike the mouse trap that can be removed and tossed aside, I can't remove this pain; I must go through it.  Fortunately, Psalm 28:7 assures me that I don't have to do any of it in my own weakened strength.  "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me."

It's definitely an uphill climb, but Matthew 24:13 assures us that if we endure to the end we will be saved. I know that what awaits me on the other side of my endurance is far better than the greeting I would receive from a journey stopped short. I could quit. I could make the choice to let go of a relationship that has caused me pain, and to be honest, some days that's exactly what I want.  When that starts looking too appealing though, I remind myself of my own sinfulness. Others aren't the only ones who make mistakes.  2 Corinthians 13:5 says to examine ourselves.  It doesn't say to pick apart the sins and mistakes of others. It says to examine and test ourselves to see if we are in right standing.  I can't count the number of times I've made mistakes, fallen short, and nevertheless received God's forgiveness and grace.  Who, then, am I to withhold it from others? Have they grieved me more than I've grieved God?  Ephesians 4:30 assures us that God's Spirit can indeed be grieved by our actions, and Matthew 6:14 says this: "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." Like anyone else who has fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), I am aware of my own need for forgiveness and the high price paid (Romans 8:32) to obtain it on my behalf.  Forgiveness in this light, then, seems to be less of an option and more of a respectful responsibility to the God who has forgiven so much, and yet the choice does rest with me.  It could be that my new broken is just the beginning of beautiful new construction.  I must only choose to build.  Who do you need to forgive today?

Youtube Video Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UI1obeb3A9c

1 comment:

  1. So true and so hard. Thank you for pouring yourself out to help others. I confess I have been in your shoes, felt your feelings, and thought your thoughts! And by God's grace, I remain. Today your blog reminds me of who I am, vulnerable to sin and yet very unwilling to allow those around me the same vulnerability. If we want grace, we must give grace. If we want forgiveness, we must forgive. And as always, you bring it all into such a beautiful picture that we can all glean a better understanding of God's way for all of us!!! Thank you!!