I don’t know how to introduce this. Only – I’ve spent a lot of time on Pinterest, reading all the quotes. You know which ones? All the self-esteem boosting ones, about moving on, leaving things behind, and becoming stronger. I’ve read the blog posts full of wise sayings about how you’re better off without certain people, you don’t need them in your life, you can have courage and move forward.
All these bitter things.
Because the people who write these? They never learned that the best thing to have is a soft heart, a heart that can be wounded,
that sometimes ‘tough skin’ is a euphemism for ‘resentment,’
that the safest thing to do is to cry,
that real things are so much better than glass walls and burning bridges.
They say that the bravest thing you can do is be yourself,
but I say that the bravest thing you can do is stop remembering to be yourself and just live.
They say to only trust people who are trustworthy, who aren’t going to break your heart, or else to trust no one at all.
They say that you don’t need to forget in order to forgive – that “[d]on’t think it’s in the past… time can heal but this won’t…”
Oh, but this isn’t the way to a whole, healed world.
I can write about this because I’ve been hurt deeply, and I have learned to lean my head on a God who catches all my tears and hurts more deeply for me than I ever could.
If His love isn’t great enough to take away the fear, then what is?
Don’t we learn forgiveness from Him? “We love because He first loved us…” (1 John 4:19) “Forgive as the Lord forgave you…” (Col. 3:13).
How does He love? He doesn’t keep track of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:5).
How does He forgive? He casts our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psa. 103:12).
Am I willing to include forgetting in my definition of forgiveness? Really, am I willing to let go of my right to be hurt?
And I want to – I do, truly – but some piece of me wants to be affected. I want to flaunt my scars, to say that I’ve been through a hard time, but it’s made me stronger. I want those who’ve hurt me to know that I’m irreparably damaged.
I’ve had to wrestle with this question in the past weeks. When someone asks me how I’m doing, am I willing to give up my shrugged shoulders and weak smile, my “I’m not doing well… but God is good,” my badge of I’ve been hurt like someone took a Sharpie to my soul?
Am I willing to give up my right to pain, willing to give up my right to a scar, and to say simply, “Lord, let me see the whole thing as a blessing”?
Anita Dittman, survivor of forced labor and abuse in a Nazi concentration camp, does not cry as she talks about the horrors she endured. She declares she will not cry. “But I will cry,” she says, “because of the goodness of God!” And tears cascade down her cheeks as she tells of it.
We are fragile human creatures, with fragile bodies and spirits that are often severely injured. But we have a God who is near to the brokenhearted – oh praise Him for it! – and isn’t He God enough to redeem?
I still believe in redemption. I believe in a God who is Who He says He is, capital letters and all. I believe that He can turn the bitter into sweet. I believe that forgiveness can be complete, that He can fill the gaps with His love and that someday, soon, I will be able to see the whole thing as a blessing.
It happened – I can’t erase it – and by forgetting, I don’t mean not remembering that it ever happened. It’s letting go of the idea that there has to be a scar
and waiting to see where the Lord will bring redemption.