Life After Forgiveness pt. 1

I saw her face, a glow of introspection and a radiance in her eyes, beautiful.  The photo evoked an emotion that surprised me.

She is a woman I used to know very well.  We used to laugh together, and spent many late night hours in deep conversations and in prayer.  We used to share dreams and tears and life…  

Used to… that emotion took me a few days of soul searching to understand.

Pain.   It was pain… 

The circumstances surrounding our falling were truly ugly.  The kind of ugly that started out as a difference of opinion between 2, and quickly escalated into a all out battle of 5 against one.  As the situation intensified my heart couldn’t handle any more.  I found myself facing cutting accusations from five different directions, and though some accusations were founded in truth, most of them were completely untrue.  As my apologies fell on deaf ears and nothing was getting resolved, I found myself stepping away, shutting off and shutting them all out.  It was an act of survival, as I found myself turning into a person I didn’t recognize.

But this pain now, surprised me.

It’s been nearly 5 years, or maybe more, since that debacle. When I withdrew I knew the only way I’d find myself again was through forgiveness.  I was determined to forgive them – to relinquish all rights to being understood, justified, and even my rights of requiring them to apologize – hourly at first, then daily, then every few days, and weekly… to where I could remember her and the events that transpired between us and feel peace, and then to the point where I felt freedom; a kind of joy and kindness toward her that wished her well and wanted to see her succeed.  I think it was almost two years by that point.  I’d been living in complete freedom for almost 3 years now… what is the pain about?

It was while I was getting ready for a date with my husband, pulling my hair through the straightener and enjoying the sounds of my kids wrestling on my bed, I watched the reflection of my face in the mirror, (something I love doing because I hear God’s affection for me most when I see myself eye to eye), I heard it…

Softly, like a still breeze, I felt the words You forgave them until you were free, but we never dealt with the pain they caused.

I was dumbfounded.  It felt like I’d simultaneously been punched in the gut and told the diagnosis of a terminal illness was actually a mistake…

The pain was real.   It still is real…

The idea that the pain I felt at the time – the pain their behavior inflicted – was as valid as the pain I’d caused them was not a foreign concept, but it was suddenly very real.  In order to concentrate on forgiveness I’d let go of my rights to being hurt… to live in a state of being hurt.  I let go of all reasons to hold on to even a hint of grudge or injustice.   But, that doesn’t mean the pain wasn’t real.

The reality is, the presence of pain doesn’t mean the work of forgiveness isn’t complete, it simply means something was fractured and needs healing.

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