Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Forgiveness: Stage 3

I have five blogs. I realize this is excessive.

I start a new blog any time a really hard thing happens in my life. This one started after I lost my job. I meant for it to be about grace, but really it's been about forgiveness. Maybe they are the same thing. Almost two years later and I am still trying to figure this out—forgiving. Here's the rundown of what this process has been like for me:

1. At first, I felt hurt and graceful. I was sure I was right, the offender was wrong, and that this was so obvious to everyone involved that all would be repented of and forgiven quickly. 

2. Then, that didn't happen. Nothing happened. So then I felt hurt and pissed. The anthem of my hurt and pissed stage has been, “I can't even imagine ever treating anyone like that and then doing nothing.” This comes in variations, but overwhelmingly, “that person is scum.”

3. Next, I started writing this blog post (stage 2 has lasted a long time).

In-between and during all of these stages, there has been one thing that has made the movement to whatever this new phase is possible: gratitude. Gratitude is saving me from a life of hurt-pissed-off-ness.

Gratitude for what I have (easy):

I am grateful for my husband. I am grateful for how much closer we are than we ever were before. I am grateful that he is in a workplace and community where he is celebrated and respected and able to bring every good part of himself to the table. I am grateful for my job. I get to write Bible studies and shop at Hobby Lobby and cry with people and braid their hair and celebrate success and say “me too” and watch God do what God does. I do that every day. I work with dedicated, genuine people. I am grateful for my dog, who is perfect. I am grateful for my church. I am grateful for the wise and beautiful women there who teach me, who love me, who welcome me, who say “me too.”

Gratitude for what I had (harder):

Cynicism steals the glory of God. The glory of God being this: He works a perfect plan through an imperfect people. It is easy, in the pissed stage, the only see the imperfections. Focusing there, I was missing the point. God was working his perfect plan. Isn't it amazing that he could do it through them? The person-who-is-scum? There were good days. I was loved and I loved. God did amazing things. We found so much of ourselves and so much healing in that place, with those people, because of our God. I can be grateful most days now.

Gratitude for my own forgiveness (hardest):

I have written a lot of other things in order to get to this—the one thing I wanted to say. This is the newest thing. It was pointed out to me that—despite my raging anthem otherwise, I am very capable of treating someone that terribly and then doing nothing.

I have held it against the offender—his pride. “How proud would you have to be not to apologize?” I say this in an incredulous tone.

And now, I confront my own. Because the next sentence in that line of thought is, “I would never do that. I am so much better than you.”

We become the things we hate.

I am a prideful person. An arrogant, angry one. I thought maybe, “I'd never act like that” would solve the problem for me—make me into a different sort of person from “them” but it doesn't work at all. It isn't true. That thought, in itself, is me being part of the exact same cycle of pride and anger that I was so wounded by. No thank you. I need a new way.

Gratitude, again, helps me find it. I've asked so long now, “how?” How am I supposed to forgive this? Stage 3: Realizing forgiveness for others flows out of my own forgiven-ness.  Stage 3: I take my pride and say, yes, me too.