It is so had to do, acting without expecting. Two plus two equals four but life is not mathematics. One action does not necessarily equal an expected result.
Several years ago I was on staff at a large organization and following a particularly long meeting I was among a group of members talking in a hallway. The conversation didn’t last long but I said something in passing that hurt the feelings of a fellow staff member. I didn’t realize it until that evening when I received a long email about what I had said and done. It took me by complete surprise. I sent an email back immediately apologizing and promising to be more careful with my words and received another email outlining other things I had done that this staff member found irritating and insulting. Again, I apologized and began looking at my words and behavior to see if I could find all of these faults. I didn’t agree with everything this staff member wrote but I felt they deserved enough respect from me to pray for greater self-awareness in all my interactions.
This is why expectations can be so dangerous. We may know, or hope we know, our intentions as we develop and cultivate relationships, make our way with others along this path called life. We may not wish to hurt others or offend them. Our life can be about peace and kindness but it may not always be perceived that way. We must purposefully live well but not expect our lives to be beyond questioning. When we make a mistake or someone is hurt by something we have done, even if we believed we acted innocently, we seek forgiveness and restoration so that our lives match the intent of our hearts.
April showers might bring May flowers but very little rain in May might not be a good sign for the rest of the summer.
Yesterday evening the Mrs. and I were outside looking at the skies hoping for rain. It was cloudy, gray and looked promising. As we watched it began to rain on a field across the street. We stood and watched the rain so tantalizingly close but seemingly not moving our way. “Come on!” I yelled, not sure if rain had ears but willing to take a chance. After what felt like forever the drops of rain began to move across the field and toward our house. Slowly, steadily we watched it soak the street, the driveway and then it began pouring all over the yard. It was wonderful! (If I had known yelling at rain would make it come to me, I’d have done it sooner.)
Life can be this way at times. We enter a season of dryness when our spirits and emotions are barren. We search for renewal and restoration and may even feel they are incredibly close but nothing seems to happen. We shout at the heavens pleading for the rejuvenation we so desperately need. Wisdom teaches us that in time, and on time, revitalization will come. It cannot be forced or coerced but if we are willing to accept, what is beyond our power to control, we will be strengthened and enlightened when the moment and our path are in sync with our need.
Someone asked me last week; “How long does it take to heal a broken heart? How long before you’ve moved past the pain, betrayal and loss? How long before it doesn’t hurt any more?” I wearily smiled and replied; “I’ll let you know, as soon as it happens.”
The act of forgiving someone is more than saying the words; “I forgive you.” It is a head and heart change, a spirit and emotional shift that takes time. Forgiveness is a process, a journey, which begins with some of the most difficult steps we can ever make. When someone has consciously, purposefully wounded us, torn apart a relationship, chosen to grievously harm us, there is no; “quick fix” prayer, magical spell or shortcut to a place of healing. To forgive is to make the choice to move on, not hold on to the bitterness and heartache, to allow the offending party and yourself to be free, and this choice is repeated many times.
The path of forgiveness is at first a downward spiral. We journey deep into ourselves and come face to face with the pain caused by the other. We admit and accept the hurt which has been done to us. We then bring the injury into the light by talking about it with someone we trust, someone who can help us navigate the path from brokenness to wholeness. Depending on the depth of the wound, healing, forgiveness, could take years. Remember it is a choice to let go of the blame, the pain and the burden of carrying around an act of selfishness, carelessness and callousness done to us by another. The choice is to hold on to the hurt or embrace freedom of mind, body and spirit. The decision might be made countless times until the impact of the betrayal is finally, permanently, all gone and we find the long, hard path to restoration complete and worth it.
This morning, on my way to speak to a group of men with addictions, I stopped by a gas station. Pulling in, the pump I was hoping to use was occupied, so I chose another one and began filling up. I looked over at the vehicle parked beside the other gas pump and noticed the woman sitting in her car talking on the phone. She had finished getting her fuel but hadn’t pulled out of the way for the next person. As I continued filling up, she completed her call and then began reading either a book or a magazine. Finished, I hopped in the truck and began pulling away from the pump, glanced over my shoulder and there the driver still sat, reading and taking up a space someone else needed.
Driving away I thought about traveling the road of life. There are times we need recovery, renewal, restoration of our emotions and spirits to continue our journey. During these pit-stops I hope to encounter folks who are as interested in; “refilling my tank” as they are in theirs and pray that I’ll return the favor.
On Sunday I was working outside, trimming Lemon grass. It can be tricky working with this plant because of the thin, long leaves which can cause a nasty cut if a person is careless. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as vigilant as needed and received a gash in my pinky finger. Small cuts might not bleed much but they can be quite painful. It didn’t take long to forget about the mishap but ever since, each time I apply soap or antibacterial gel, I’m reminded the cut hasn’t completely healed. It’ll take a few more days before the wound is closed and no longer a painful reminder of my carelessness.
Life’s journey is filled with difficult and hurtful places, events, and seasons. Our recovery from these take time and often we encounter reminders of these painful moments which cause the agony to resurface. Our reliving of these can be disappointing and a cause for despair. We think; “Shouldn’t this wound be healed? Why is there still suffering? Will I ever be fully well, whole again?” In these times it’s important to be patient. Recovery moves at a different pace for everyone. You can’t rush restoration and redemption. “Progress, no matter how slow, is still forward.” –Plato
Walking the path of forgiveness and repairing a relationship takes time, self awareness and the willingness of two.
A friend asked me this morning about restoring a broken relationship and his feelings of futility at his lack of success. Nothing seems to be working and he’s looking for another way to reach out and connect with his estranged friend. My first question was; “does the other person want the relationship healed?”
It takes two people to truly restore a broken relationship. Two with the self awareness that there is fault and blame on both sides. Two must be willing to forgive and seek forgiveness. Two with enough humility and grace to set aside ego, recognize the brokenness of the past and embrace the desire for newness to replace what is barren and dead.
Unless two are willing to travel the road of healing together the emptiness of what once was will remain.