I'm kind of in a drought, living a sort of thirsty existence where I have nothing much to say or give but plenty of things to ask. My soul is parched so to speak and it makes me think of that verse that talks about the mouth speaking out of the overflow of the heart and how my heart must resemble a raisin at present. All dry and small.
So as you can imagine, writing this piece is a bit of a battle. I feel a bit like I'm waving my sword around haphazardly and pretending I care. But I know this, that writing for me helps me to better understand the world I live in and that creativity, is a non-negotiable part of my spirituality. And so in this desert season, I write with a disclaimer…watch out for the cacti.
I have been reading a wee bit of Anne Lamott lately; she is a tenacious Christian activist, with a beautiful simplicity about her. She says swear words and has dread locks and that is half of the reasons why I like her. Anyway, she says that forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past.
When I first read this I thought, "oh no Anne, we must never give up hope. How terrible of you to suggest so" but then as I pondered on every dead horse I had ever flogged, I noticed that not a single one of them had jumped up and cantered away happily. It was then that I exhaled.
See I've been hurt lately, and it was one of those deep hurts that you don't even realise stings, like the peaceful seconds between being wounded and trying to breathe, I thought everything in life was fine until I started to avoid people, and secretly imagine them maimed and dying- just joking, kind of.
We have heard for most of our lives, forgive and forget and live and let live or seventy times seven and it all seems so painfully simple, but I'm really not convinced. I too, am trying to get down to the heart of the matter, Mr Henley (little Eagles reference there for the young bucks), and I too think it's about forgiveness, but I am wondering why is it so bloody hard?
Some of my friends and I have been wrestling with this within the context our little community of faith…we were almost propelled into it when we read a couple of cryptic verses in John about withholding forgiveness and freaked out. And even though we've concluded that we're really not as powerful as to interrupt God's grace, I have had some thoughts on it.
When we suffer at the hands of someone else's decisions, I think it costs us to forgive because it requires us to lay aside any sort of claim of justice and allow the other to move forward free of guilt. And we don't always want to do that. It is deeply unfair to allow the baddie a free pass when we have been taught from the get go to punish the sucker!
And maybe it costs us to forgive because it highlights in ourselves our own potential to make bad choices and hurt the people we love. Maybe, in forgiving we are exposed and find that we are not so innocent after all.
Or maybe, we don't forgive because we've been left so powerless that we've forgotten the sound of our own voices and have to teach ourselves to speak again or because we like our story of woe a little too much and feel good when we're wearing the victim. That was certainly the state I found myself in as I harboured around my heavy, cast iron case of resentment, a barrier to my own brokenness.
As I try to set it down, I'm anticipating the audible sigh of relief my arms will exhale, and with my hands were free, I hope to make a peace sign and shake on it. When I am no longer chasing justice, me and my raisin heart are free to love. And I realise that this could be problematic but maybe it is possible to love someone in spite of how they have hurt us, for it has been said, "love and wounds are never separate".
First published June 4, 2014
Gemma Taylor despite constant scorn and painful jokes is proudly from the Waikato; although she is presently living in Auckland with her fingers in many pies. She is inspired by truth, creativity and connection. Gemma writes for buoyancy and hopes to one day live wholly by the ideas that she writes of.
Gemma Taylor's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/gemma-taylor.html