once upon a time | and forgiveness still

The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.
— marianne williamson

I finally watched the movie Moana this week. There was a line spoken ( that I haven't been able to find listed as a quote ... so maybe I made it up but I don't think so ) that was something about you can't know where you are or where you are going if you don't where you were. 

And that is why I am revisiting posts from the past. It's difficult to go back to who I was, to how sure I was of a life and a faith that I have now left behind. It's easy for me to label what was in all the negative ways. It is more difficult but also more important for me to hold every step with grace, honoring where I was because it brought me to where I am. 


from June 2008:

I've been quiet here; quiet in my artwork.  Physically, I am still recovering from oral surgery.  Stitches come out today so maybe that will make a difference.  It is still aching and tender and I am still fatigued.  Hardly a day has passed without a several hour nap and one day, I slept for three hours and then for another two hours later.  The effects of the surgery, the pain medication, the antibiotics and me not being able to do the things to natural energize myself are still pounding through me. This leaves me mentally and creatively dry.  Not a good time to be so as I have a project due by August first.

Emotionally, I am reacting to where I am at spiritually and that seems to be still a mess.

I have been challenged to what it means to forgive.  Seeing the result of unforgiveness that has turned to bitterness in someone in my life, I cannot help but examine my own heart.  Is this what I have done?  Have I held on to my wounds, picking at them, keeping them fresh.  Have I thought I have moved on when really, I had just moved away to avoid the difficult process of forgiving and being with people who unintentionally hurt me.  Nothing that happened to me was of evil intent; it was more a wound inflicted by neglect or omission.  That doesn't lessen the impact but I do have to take that into consideration.

This week, my hypocrisy has been revealed to me.  I want grace for myself.  I want forgiveness for myself.  I haven't been good at extending that to others.  Oh yes, I can ... to people I think deserve it.  But I can be very stingy when it comes to people I don't think deserve it.  So, is that really grace?

My anger almost destroyed me last year and I thought it was gone.  But it had just become less noticeable, camouflaged. It's frightening to think how hidden my anger had become and it was still inside me, eating away.

Pride has become a friend again.  How did that happen?  I spent years in that legalistic mindset that I was more holy because of what I was doing or what I was not doing.  God broke me and it was the most painfully beautiful time of my life.  I was glad to be destroyed because I hated what I had become.  Now, my freedom has led me to another form of pride.  I think I have it all figured out? Yeah, right.  The thing is that I do tend to have that prophetic tendency about me ... I will see where people may be straying from the heart of God and want to speak out about that.  I can see where that is a necessary role in relationships, in the church.  In fact, the tendency is prevalent even in non-spiritual aspects.  If I am involved with a group with a stated purpose and I see the group straying from that, I feel compelled to speak out and set things back on course. The problem is that I have lost my humility which has caused me to lose my grace.  Instead, I have been sitting on my own judgment seat.

I feel like I am being called back into some place that holds some unpleasant memories for me, that forces me to figure out how to be in community with people when I hold a few contradictory convictions.  I went yesterday and it wasn't entirely comfortable.  I think I wanted to go in and feel at ease, to feel peaceful.  That didn't happen.  What did happen though was that I saw.  I saw people who sincerely love God and who are seeking God with all their heart.  And I saw my own spiritual pride.  That broke me.  How I have claimed my freedom to find God anywhere ... anywhere but there.  How supercilious!

There was an interesting moment.  At the end, this song was sung

You stood before creation
Eternity within Your hand
You spoke the earth into motion
My soul now to stand
You stood before my failure
Carried the Cross for my shame
My sin weighed upon Your shoulders
My soul now to stand
So what can I say
What can I do
But offer this heart O God Completely to You
So I'll walk upon salvation
Your Spirit alive in me
This life to declare Your promise
My soul now to stand
So what can I say
What can I do
But offer this heart O God Completely to You
So I’ll stand With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all
So I’ll stand
My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours (Hillsong United)

I couldn't sing it. I couldn't sing the words, "So what can I say, What can I do, But offer this heart O God, completely to you." I pictured myself, standing on the edge of a field observing everyone else dancing with joy while I stood, held my heart in my hand, unable, unwilling to let it go. My grasp was not tight but still, I held onto my heart. God seems to understand my hesitancy and reminds me that God will suffer long.

I told someone this week that I am a spiritual mess and I am.  Thankfully, I was reminded this week that God loves me ... even when I am in this messy place with seemingly no end in sight.  God's call on my heart to love other believers is strong. It's easier for me to love unbelievers I think.  That's my pride right there.

It's interesting how I think I have one thing to say and when I sit and begin typing, something else comes forth.  Today is one of those days.  I didn't intend on writing about this but now I have.  It is time to click the publish button and go on with the morning.

Grace and peace!


Oh my heart aches for that woman from nine years ago. A woman who thought she was hoarding grace for herself and not extending it to others. A woman who couldn't see how much she gave to others to the detriment of her own well-being. A woman who thought she was just a mess. 

Dear She who was,

I wish you could see how tenacious you are. You have loved and suffered long. I know you think you are so far from the God you love but I see a woman who reflects patience and a holy stubbornness to be right there among God's people, amidst God's holiness. 

With spiritual wounds still raw, you tried many times to be with the people of God, to worship with them, to learn with them. You never gave up. You held the paradox of believing and doubting. You considered the sacred questions with pure intent. 

You say you are a mess. I want to say that you aren't ... but maybe you are. What's wrong with that? You are a beautiful mess of metaphors and longing for truth. You aren't afraid to be messy, to see the paradoxes and contradictions, the black and white and gray. 

Not being able to sing those words was because you are committed to what is authentic. You would rather be true to yourself and your heart than speak empty words just for the sake of speaking them. The world needs more people like you. People who are not afraid to be real, to be true, to call out bullshit. 

You are good at calling out bullshit. It begins with yourself. You have high standards and you don't let yourself off the hook. Sure, you may need to have more grace for others but you need it for yourself as well. 

And about that forgiveness piece. I get it. Here in the now, forgiveness is still a difficult choice. Right now, I am waking up to how I've been holding onto some wounds, some betrayals. Forgiveness doesn't mean that I remain or return to the place of infliction. It does mean that I release it though. It's time. And I thank you for the reminder. 

 

Oh dear one, if you could just see into the future. If you could just know how it all turns out. It's good here, very good. There is love and acceptance. There is curiosity and exploration. There is magic and mystery. 

But you have to be where you are and where you are going in order to be here now. 

Walk on, love. Walk on.