03 May, 2007

Things I'm Grateful For:
(in no particular order)

1. That my sister will be here in 12 hours
2. My Small Group (I could list them all separately, but that just seems silly)
3. That spring/summer time has finally come
4. Picnics at the park. (playing frisbee with a plastic lid)
5. My roommate
6. The smell of coffee in the morning
7. My friends in CO
8. A good book
9. Finding God at unexpected times.
10. My church in DC
11. Getting to see my Big Bro next weekend (after 10 years…I think)
12. An unexpected day of creativity
13. Mi familia
14. The monuments at night (and preferably covered in snow. but let's be honest, that won't happen for a while, and, well, I like not having to bundle up to see FDR.)
15. Seeing DC through someone else's eyes
16. Ella's "squawks" that I can faintly hear through the phone
17. Talking to my nieces on the phone - they're 4, it's entertaining
18. Eastern Market pancakes (though it will be a while before I get to enjoy them again, sad.)

This is in no way an encompassing list - but let's by honest, it's 5 AM.

(and why am I up at 5am? That's a good question, and if I could answer you I would. But basically, my body decided that at 4am it was done sleeping, and wanted to be awake. So after trying every possible trick for falling back asleep. I gave in, got up, and am now drinking reheated coffee and trying to be productive before going to work.)

I am going to preface this and say that I apologize if my posts tend to be rambling struggles and thoughts on life. No, actually, I don't think I will apologize for that. :-) I want you all to know what's going on, and I could make this a superficial thing, but that's not who I am, and that's not what I see this being, so yeah, hopefully you all can enjoy this journey with me, and I will try to balance my questions (rants/ramblings/thoughts..."the hard stuff") with fun stories too. But for now, it's 5 am - so bring on the deep thoughts...

"Excellence is not a destination. It is a process that must be continually improved" (Sid Buzzel)

And, excellence cannot only come when we are being edified, or we feel safe, appreciated, seen, whatever. It should actually come more when we are overlooked, undervalued, and taken advantage of. When I do well at a job that appreciates me it's an ego stroke for me too. I know my boss likes me, I do well, boss praises me. But when I feel undervalued it's harder for me to do a good job. I tend to slack off, I don't pay attention, I isolate myself, I do the bare minimum, and nothing else. Why would I want to do more than that? They don't notice, they won't care, so why give more?

Because He says to. And whom am I working for: God or man. If it's the man, I have no incentive to reach beyond what they expect. But if I am working for God, and really trying to make that tangible in my life, instead of a Christian, cliché cop out, it will change how I work. It will change my attitude, it will change my perception, and it will allow me to not get bogged down in office politics and cynicism.

And to accept this, and let it sink in leads to a whole other line of questions. Especially if you work at a place that maybe isn't your favorite. But the simple reality is that by accepting the truth of who God is, and who that makes me as a follower of Him, it makes things like what I said above true, even if I don't want them to be. Which leads me to the second reoccurring theme of the past week:

Forgiveness

...not so much forgiveness for things committed recently, but forgiving those who hurt me again, and again, and again. And maybe the hurt started a long time ago (say, um 15 some odd years ago) and has been a progression that over time has morphed into a lifestyle and is essentially now having to forgive someone for who they innately are. And it's not a character trait (like forgiving someone whose judgmental or controlling) but forgiving a series of intentional decisions made by the other person fully aware of the consequences to those around them.

It's hard, and a process, and part of me wants to be able to cling to my hurt (and the hurt caused to those around me) and use it like a shield, like a defense, for why I cannot forgive this person. It's a habit, and so if I forgive them for this isn't it just opening me up to being hurt again? And to this question two thoughts come:

1) Forgiveness doesn't necessitate a relationship.

If you are in an abusive relationship you can forgive the person, but that doesn't mean you have to move back in with them. If someone is controlling you, you can forgive them, but you do not have to continue to allow yourself to be controlled. Staying is someone's life who has shown so little regard for your feelings is stupid. "But how does that show Christ's love?" You cry! By showing the person that something is required for there to be a relationship. Look over scripture, God requires things to change in people before they can fellowship with Him. He gives forgiveness freely, but doesn't a) allow that person to continue living in sin, and b) requires change.

I can forgive you and choose not to be part of your life. (If you want more on this e-mail me.)

2) Yup. But isn't that the point? Several times in the Gospels is the idea that as much as we are able to forgive others will be the extent God will forgive us. Now, let's take this out of the self-serving, cliché, Sunday school, Christian cop out context and make it real.

If I do not forgive this person (people) who have wounded me time, and time, and time again, how can I expect God to forgive me when I hurt Him time, and time, and time (and time, and time....) again? And I cannot just forgive this person because I want to be forgiven - because then it's not real. I did this last time - I rushed into forgiveness, because I felt it "ought" to and was pressured into letting the anger go, told what I said above in the Christian cop out way. So I did. But a year later I was still angry and couldn't discuss what happened without fuming. So obviously even though I had said the words and told God I'd forgiven the person who hurt me, I hadn't. And it wasn't a control thing (like in the parable in Matthew 18). I don't want to hold this over them and assert control or any of that. It just hurt, and I was mad.

Forgiveness is hard. It's easy (well easier) to forgive someone for saying some stupid, or wounding your pride, or taking something, or whatever. But ingrained hurt - wounds that stem back decades (literally!) and affect you every day whether you realize it or not is like getting rid of weeds. It’s not just forgiveness. In fact going to this person and saying, "You're a jerk, I forgive you." Would be relatively easy for me. What hurts is dealing with the repercussions of their actions in my life. Of facing how their repeated betrayal affects my everyday and not holding on to it because I know letting God refine that out of me will hurt like hell and call into question every support or defense I've made to suppress the hurt. It will call into question the true extend of my faith, and trust in Him. It will make me evaluate so much in my life, I don't know if I can do it.

It's like these offense are part of a very delicate damn I've constructed to keep back all the pain in my life I've chosen not to deal with. Growing up every time I didn't admit something hurt, or every time I cast aside what I was feeling to appear strong, the pain went here. And until I got to DC I was constantly sidestepping landmines, and filling this damn more and more and more. And now it's starting to break, and I am that little Dutch girl with my finger in the damn trying to keep it from shattering. And this repeated offender has done something again that might just be enough to cause this damn to burst...

And am I ready for that?

And will I let it come?

I have a choice, I can either take my finger out of the damn, run like hell, and reinforce another one higher, made out of stronger bricks, and better enforced. Or, I can take my finger out, wait, and deal with it.

Forgiving this/these people would be easy. Dealing with the crap of what it left/leaves behind is what I fear I am not strong enough (willing) to do. And that's why forgiveness is hard, real forgiveness takes my cop out away. It's no longer "their" grievance, it's mine. I can no longer blame them because I've taken that away. And, oh how much easier it is to blame others then admit the crud in our own lives...





(wow this was long, sorry)

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