Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rinse Cycle

 I've had a heavy heart lately... maybe my "lately" is much less "lately" and much more "for a very long time", but I've always had this feeling of self-pity, guilt, shame, and overwhelming regret. I loathe all those feelings, yet I have been overcome by them for years! I could place them, and knew exactly where they were coming from, but I never wanted to admit it... Because maybe if I admitted it then that would make it real. It would make the pain I caused and the pain I had been caused real.

I did a lot of really awful things to some wonderful people. I also did some awful things to some not so wonderful people. On the other hand, I had some really awful things done to me by some wonderful people and by some not so wonderful people. I have a plethora of skeletons in my closet.. But I hate that saying; what does it even mean? I can't find any practicality in that, so I think rather than skeletons, I just have a lot of dirty laundry... the kind of dirty laundry that you hide away in the very back of your closet, trying to forget about it because the stains on it are so deep and so ugly and are physical manifestations of whatever stupid, hurtful thing happened that every time you look at them, you relive that moment and those feelings all over again.

But the smell from that dirty laundry has seeped into all my fresh, clean, nicely hung up clothing, and keeps creeping out from underneath the closet door - my dirty laundry has taken over my entire life. The older I've gotten, the longer I've let the stains seep in and get deeper and bigger, the harder those stains are to clean.

But I'm at the point now where I don't want this dirty laundry anymore. I don't want it! I can't just throw those clothes away, because the stains are more than just clothing stains now; they've become indelible marks like a scratch on a pair of sunglasses - you can see everything pretty well, but there's that one blemish that is fogging all the beauty and all the happiness that the world has to offer. I am ready to see the world as the beautiful, happy, majestic, awe-inspiring entity that it is.

So I started to think and meditate on how I could fix the problem, how I could wash out my stains, and make sure those stains don't ever come back.

It took a lot of "soul searching" and thinking, and a huge, horrible tasting dose of reality for me to finally realize that not only do I need to forgive these people for what they've done to me, and forgive them without expecting them to apologize to me or show any remorse, but I also need to ask for forgiveness from them, actively seek out their forgiveness, and I need to forgive myself.

As much as I may dislike these people, and think these people don't "deserve" my apology, the bottom is that each and every one of those people that I wronged and those people that wronged me, God loves. We ALL are His children; He can't pick and choose. He loves me, and everything that comes along with me, including and especially my dirty laundry, and He loves the people I've wronged and those who have wronged me. So, first and foremost, I need to make myself right with God because I have wronged someone He loves. That's still a hard concept for me to grasp. And it may be one of those that I don't necessarily "grasp" as much as I simply respect. Out of respect for Christ, and His incredible, unfathomable love for His family, I have to ask Him for forgiveness. I can relate to that as much as humanly possible because I am so family-oriented. People literally call me the MAFIA; you mess with my family or people I love, you're messing with me; you hurt me. So, first things first: I need to ask God to forgive me, for not loving, or trying to love His children the way He loves His children and the way He loves me.

Next, and this is the really torturous part, I need to ask the person I wronged for forgiveness. I may think that I'm right and that person deserved what they got and a crazy amount of very human, sinful thoughts like that, but regardless of all that, I wronged someone, and that is wrong. Period. No questions asked. I don't want to be wronged, so I should not wrong others. End of story. I need to ask for forgiveness. This goes against every part of our selfish, egotistical, prideful, stubborn, human attitudes, which is why it happens so little, but maybe if we could all just get over ourselves and see past, well, ourselves, then maybe there would be a lot more forgiveness, a lot less wronging, and a lot less necessary forgiveness. Maybe this is the trend I'll start by doing this! Well, that's doubtful, but hopefully this can be a trend I start in my own life. I'd love to be the kind of person who doesn't hold grudges and who is confident and mature enough to be able to recognize and admit aloud that I've done something wrong and who is humble enough to ask for forgiveness. I think this is a day at a time kind of thing, situation by situation. Some days I don't even want to think about forgiveness because I'm so cold- and hard-hearted, and some days I'm a huge mushball and I can feel is guilt and all I can think about is forgiveness.

Either way, the bottom line is that I need to ask for forgiveness. I need to understand that I may not get it right away; I may not get it ever. But I need to do everything that I can do to reconcile with that person. It's about taking action

forgiveness is one of the most cherished possessions we can have.

never pay back evil with more evil. Let go of trying to get even because the score will never be even, trust and faith and relationships and time have been lost so there's no way it can be evened; it's already out of balance. When you hurt me, and when I hurt you, there's no way to even that up.

Never take revenge. Don't look for revenge; don't seek it out; don't execute it. Revenge is making sure you hurt like I did, it's punishing you. It may not "cost" them anything for the hurt they've caused me... so how do I forgive? How can I get over that hurt and forgive, when I feel like all I'm doing is hurting and they're going on with their life?

Turn the "wounder" over to God for justice. It's not our battle to fight anymore; give it to God!

But if I don't forgive, I am standing in the way of God handling it, which is just hurting me more because there can be no closure; I am preventing that closure form happening. If I get out of the way, the hurt, the wounding will end.

Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. And that doesn't mean letting that person hurt you again, but it just means killing your wounders, your enemies, with kindness.

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