September 2019. The Shattering Power of Forgiveness

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In my previous (May) blog I shared some thoughts on “Accepting the Unexpected”. At that time I was dealing with a situation that was not only unexpected, but by all means of reason, totally unacceptable. To quote my May newsletter, I was struggling to move forward from “the emotional cost of the unforeseen, unfair, unwanted, and undeserved, down right stinking circumstances that had [come my] way”.

It involved someone who was in a position with the power to greatly influence my life, not just personally, but professionally. This person’s thoughtless and disrespectful behavior was deeply offending. My world felt as though it had been turned upside down.

Just as the effect of this incident began to really sink in, as I was working to once again find my emotional stability, several more very personal and emotionally stressful situations occurred. It was the perfect storm of stress that set up my immune system to be compromised and I became very sick. I even lost my voice for nearly a week.

During that time of enforced rest, recovery and silence I had a lot of time to, “Think on these things.” As hard as I tried, I just couldn’t seem to find relief from the sting of my offenders’ harsh words that played in an endless loupe in my mind.  I knew I needed a way to break free of the anxiety and feelings of depression threatening to engulf me in their dark cloud. I longed for the joy and peace that were my usual companions to return.

Eventually, my stressed out emotions began to settle and I regained my voice.  After nearly two weeks of isolation I felt ready to face the world. My husband Lee suggested we go out for brunch. As we waited for our food we talked at length about the chain of events that had seemed to turn my world upside down. I shared with Lee that although I had come to a place of acceptance and I felt ready to discover what my new normal would soon be, I was still struggling with truly forgiving my offender.

“I know that as a Christian I am admonished to Forgive as the Lord forgave me”, I told Lee. “He even left us with the most perfect example of forgiveness. When He was being tortured and crucified, He cried out “Father forgive them, for they no not what they do.”

“And not only that”, Lee, “I am encouraged to Love my enemies and to pray for those who persecute me! I’m not suggesting that I should become a door mat or to allow others to abuse me. No, not at all. But to hold onto a grievance, to allow the hurt to fester into resentment has been likened to my drinking a poison in hopes that my offender would die. I need to find a way to forgive so that I can be free from the poison of resentment.”

I shared with him how my older, more saintly sister has a saying when she has been offended. “I forgive you and I bless you.” My initial response to her was, “How is that even possible, especially if my offender is not even the least bit remorseful?!”

As we were talking the waitress approached our table and when my food was served it came on a plate that I recognized as one of a set that I had acquired in the late 70’s/early 80’s. This little cafe serves their food on an eclectic collection of mismatched dishes.

As I sat staring at my plate I was flooded with the memory and the emotion of a night that my ex-husband and I had a big fight. In my frustration I flung a number of these plates across the kitchen where they shattered against the dining room wall.

It was NOT my proudest moment! Well, as I sat in that café staring at my plate, I knew just what I needed to do! I asked and the restaurant owner agreed to let me keep the plate if I brought back one in exchange.

When I got home I took a sharpie pen and wrote every name I could recall of those who had deeply offended me. Then I began to write words; feelings, emotions associated with their offense. Then as an afterthought I wrote, “I forgive you and I bless you.”

Then I took my 20 gauge shot gun and went into the forest behind my house. Lee set up a way to secure the plate in front of a large stump and spread a tarp at the base of the stump. After he stepped back, I took a deep breath, took careful aim and when I fired into the plate it shattered into a myriad of tiny fragments.

I felt an exhilarating sense of release and shouted out a loud, “Yahoo!!” doing a little happy dance and some fist pumping before gathering up the tarp and carrying everything to the house.

I spread the tarp on the ground before tossing the pieces into the garbage can and felt an overwhelming sense of God’s peace as I Knelt there poking through the shards. The heaviness that had weighed on my heart lifted as I thanked Him for His Spirit’s gift of forgiveness. As I continued to sort through the broken pieces of the plate what I discovered was this…

Among the shattered fragments were parts and pieces of words, one or two letters here and there, nothing legible, save for one chunk from the bottom of the plate where I had written, “I forgive you and I bless you.” What remained was the message I needed to receive…From God’s heart to mine…

forgive and I bless U.

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