The revelation came as a bit of a shock, honestly. I saw it clear as day, yet I still didn’t quite believe it. For reasons yet unknown to me, I couldn’t make sense of all that I knew to be both true and real, and the stark contrast of what was laid bare before me.
Deception. Dishonesty. At best, a game.
A veritable trap lay open before me and everything in me wanted to walk into it’s snare. I know this road. It’s familiar, crooked path. The fragile, wounded hearts that lay in the balance.
I thought I was over it. With every fiber of my being I would have honestly confessed I had moved on. But the truth is I couldn’t have confessed it with my whole heart. Now I know I couldn’t even in part. In my haste to be free I skipped over one last hurt. An ancient wound that severed so much and created a chasm of unknowable depth.
It’s one of the bravest and hardest things we will ever do: to forgive, even when the apology never comes. Because the plain hard truth is sometimes the apology will never come. And the longer we wait thinking they will understand what they’ve done, the stronger the foothold we give away. The more we risk turning over to bitterness.
It never fails to amaze me, the faithfulness of God. How He gently uncovers the painful memories we’ve locked away in our hearts, one at a time. How patient and kind He is to let us come far enough in our healing to bring us to the next place stronger. Where the next greatest wounds need to be brought to the surface and healed. We couldn’t do it all at once, the pain would be unbearable and we would surely give up. Instead He takes us gently through our life; to the wounds demanding to be dealt with. Uncovering one hurt and then another. Each one building strength and wisdom and faith that He will provide for our every need. That His grace is sufficient for this day. That if we just wait on Him, somehow, He will make a way.
No matter what judgment, ridicule, rejection or hardship we have faced and no matter the outcome, He will have the last say. Our life is made of a collection of stories but ultimately we will be defined by the one we choose to write. Penned from the places of our deepest hurt, but not content to stay there.
In this season of lent, my quiet time has led me to the scene of the cross. My eyes overflow with tears at the images painted in my mind. How they brutally tormented, rejected and pierced his flesh. A scene too graphic to imagine. A pain so great I’m ashamed to say I have to look away. How he bore the weight of our sin and suffered for my sake.
As a mother, I cannot bear the fact that He was born to die.
Love doesn’t look like this. It shouldn’t look like this. Nevertheless, it did.
It still does. A pool of blood forms at the foot of the cross. An iron spike bores through His feet. Torn and exposed flesh scorches in the blistering sun, tormented by flies; hair matted from the weight of crushing thorns. We look to the cross to see a slumped torso with arms outstretched to God.
It was the struggle of life that prepared Him for the suffering of the cross. It was the death that had come over the course of his life that helped Him to see.
And then I see: myself.
I see my sin, my arrogance, my stubborn unwillingness to be saved. In my heart I cry out for vengeance but He says, “it is mine.” He already paid the price for my sin, so didn’t He also pay for the sin of those who have sinned against me? It’s humbling and convicting in the very same exhalation of breath. It’s maddening this thing called grace. Brutal and impossible and yet so completely and indescribably beautiful. And possible.
And I realize as much as I try to make sense of my specific suffering there is no peace. As long and as hard as I try to understand it, there are no answers to be found. I’m convicted of the truth that the only peace is in forgiveness. It’s the secret found in surrender. And sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes it feels impossible, but holding on for something that will never come is infinitely worse. So I journey to surrender this pain. This loss. The misunderstanding, grief and it’s unrelenting game. I surrender the anger and indignation and my selfish pursuit of justice because the price has already been paid, and I am grateful. Grateful enough to surrender a selfish heart that only wants what it wants, trusting that He has a better way.
This prayer brings me comfort and all the words I couldn’t find. Maybe it will help you, too.
Dear Jesus, Help me to discern the strategies of the enemy, who so often voices his appeals through the mouths of others. They are so subtle, and sometimes I am so unsuspecting. Deliver me from the temptation to protect myself from pain, and from the temptation to point my finger at the ones inflicting it. From the selfishness of wanting to save myself. And from the bitterness of wanting to blame others. Help me to learn from the example of your suffering. That forgiveness is the power to resist bitterness. And surrender, the power to resist selfishness. Help me to surrender to the daily crosses in my life. Give me the strength to shoulder the beam, to submit to the nails, to be silent before the abuse. Help me to bear antagonism without anger, insult without indignation, ridicule without retaliation. Help me to understand the nature and purpose of pain. If it is the chisel that crafts our character – chipping away until you are formed in us – then if I avoid pain, I also avoid the person the Father would have me to be. Help me to someday become that person, Lord. Give me the strength to hold on to that which now may seem most painful but in the end will turn out to be that which best serves my soul. ~Ken Gire, Moments with the Savior
Amen. Let it be.