Don’t Ignore Your Pain

Psalm 37

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
 whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
6 Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
7 You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Forgiveness means learning to hold someone’s humanity: their brokenness, betrayal, beauty and general messiness. We hold them without casting them off. We say, “Yes, what you did was inexcusable. Yes, you hurt me. Yes, healing will take time. But I choose to hold both your brokenness and your beauty.” *

Forgiveness is not feigned ignorance or offering oneself as a proverbial doormat.  Forgiveness is looking truth in the face and choosing love. It’s not even remotely easy. It’s a day-by-day-by-day process.

I think it’s easy to justify others’ actions. “What she did wasn’t that bad. It was kind of my fault. Maybe I should have done X, Y, or Z.”

Sometimes, it really is that bad. Sometimes, you did nothing wrong.

People do terrible things.

People may have done terrible things to you.

In working with survivors of abuse, I use the following analogy. Imagine you have a backpack. You’re walking around, and someone drops a huge rock in your backpack. You can ignore it, or you can work on removing it. If you walk around long enough with a rock in your backpack, it’s going to start hurting you. It’s going to wear you out and affect your walk.

backpack

Don’t ignore your pain. The longer we refuse to address where we’ve been hurt, the more our exhaustion weighs us down.

The beauty of forgiveness is that we have been radically forgiven. Only when we begin to understand the depths of our forgiveness can we begin to view other broken people as equals. As C.S. Lewis says in his essay On Forgiveness, “to be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

God is able to hold my complexities and love me completely, although I hurt Him more deeply than I have ever been hurt. I neglect, deny, avoid, abuse, and take advantage of my all loving Father, and He continues to turn his face toward me.

A Prayer:
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Give us strength to forgive and peace in your justice. Grow our hearts to look like yours and give us eyes to see your consistent presence. Let us acknowledge our iniquity so that we can rejoice in your lavish forgiveness. Allow the joy of our salvation to seep into all of our relationships, staining them with the redemptive blood of Christ.

*Sometimes, forgiveness looks like reconciling and continuing a relationship. Other times, it looks like acknowledging the depth of hurt and choosing to love that person, but choosing to love yourself by stepping away from them. 

Written by Rebecca Wineland

Rebecca Wineland

Becca spends her days changing diapers, playing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” on the ukulele, and stubbornly pursuing her dream of starting a teen mentoring program. She’s a recent DC transplant with a love for laughter and a passion for prayer.

About Rebecca Wineland

Becca spends her days changing diapers, playing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” on the ukulele, and stubbornly pursuing her dream of starting a teen mentoring program. She’s a recent DC transplant with a love for laughter and a passion for prayer.

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