Sunday, November 6, 2011

Forgiveness

I was tempted to skip over the guest sermons on Grace's website. I'm so glad I didn't, because the sermon I heard this morning was a challenge at just the right time.

I've been overwhelmed by family problems; they consume my mind, haunt my dreams, and affect my interactions with everyone. I stay in a continual state of stress, which causes me to be less patient, which is the last thing I need to happen while caring for an infant. I've been doing some soul-searching to try to figure out what I can do. After all, the decision we made was to allow me to heal, and when you're so upset over the length and severity of silence, that's clearly not happening. But not healing isn't an option; I cannot live the rest of my life as I have the last 7+ years and be the wife, mother, and daughter I want to be.

I had decided to allow myself to think about the situation once a day. I haven't succeeded that well, but just trying to limit the amount it comes to mind has helped reduce the nightmares. Instead of just rehashing how things could have been handled or trying to come up with a way of fixing things, I am attempting to pray through the situation. One of the best times I've found to do this is when I'm up with Ladybug at night. Praying helps keep me from getting frustrated with my interrupted sleep, and it gives me somebody to hug while I cry. I've been very blessed in that post-partum depression hasn't been bad thus far; if you are in the situation I'm in and you don't cry, your heart must be made of stone. Ladybug doesn't wake up every night, though, so it takes a little more diligence to find time to pray during the day.

This morning's sermon was by a professor at RTS, and yet it wasn't the intellectual style that often comes from professors. It was based on Colossians 3, with references to the parable of the ungrateful servant and Ephesians 4. He reminded us of the need to forgive others because of how much God has forgiven us. When I type this, it seems simple, obvious, basic. But when I let this message sink into my heart... it makes quite an impact. I am struck by the need for grace. I can't forgive in my own strength. The only way I'll ever be able to move past this situation is by pleading with God for His grace to help me forgive. The verse in Ephesians says let there not be any bitterness, anger, or malice. I need to pray for release from anger, protection from bitterness taking residence in my heart.

This sermon did not reference this verse, but I recall the passage from 1 Corinthians, love keeps no record of wrongs. I am guilty of this, both in my maiden family (is that a proper term? How do you distinguish from your parents/siblings versus your spouse/children?) and in my marriage. It's so easy, as the preacher said, to get upset over the daily things like not taking out the trash. Or in our family, whether or not the dishwater was drained and the washcloth hung up to dry. =) But in the bigger problem, part of the reason I've had such an issue is the accumulation of irritants. In reality, what does that thing back in college have to do with the problem that led to the estrangement? Nothing. Yes, it drove me crazy, and multiple similar situations drove me crazy through the years. But it needs to be thought of separately. And if I separate the "wrongs" or rather, irritants, those small things are much easier to forgive and put behind me.

Here's a picture: A child leaves his toothbrush and toothpaste on the bathroom counter every morning instead of putting them away. The mom finds this irritating, and repeatedly asks the child to put them away. One morning, the child breaks a favorite flowerpot by roughhousing. The mom gets very upset and requires him to pay for the flowerpot, spanks him, and grounds him for a month. When the dad asks why such severe punishment for only one offence, the mom says "it's not just for the flowerpot, it's for all those mornings he hasn't put away his toothbrush." The proper response would be to deal with each offence as it occurs, and then put it behind you. And once you've disciplined for the offence, you don't punish again days or weeks later. That's like being tried twice for the same crime.

I recall a yearly breakdown/fall apart. Things would come flying out of a mouth about irritants that happened months or nearly a year ago. I remember thinking, if it bothered you, why didn't you say something about it? Why do you store it all up and bring it up now? Do the dishes every day and then they won't take you 5 hours to do. Do a load of laundry a day and it won't seem so overwhelming. Consciously forgive or deal with issues daily, and move on. If you don't bring up the problem within a VERY short period of time, don't bring it up at all. "If anyone has anything against... speak now or forever hold your peace." (Granted, we had that left out of our wedding. We weren't taking any chances. =)

Anyway... my Sunday morning thoughts. Off to deal with the daily dirty dishes and laundry. (I know, I'm not exactly following Sabbath rules... I do take it a little easier on Sundays. But the Mechanic (I still prefer the Guardian) needs clean clothes, and Ladybug's gotta have bottles.)

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