I was originally going to write a post about things you shouldn’t tell someone with anxiety…which is a lot of what I think about, mostly because people say some dumb things on a regular basis. But then I realized that 1: I live in a generation of overly-offended people and 2: I should maybe stop and take some time to process how much I have been hurt by the people who say those dumb things.
One of the hardest things to forgive is people checking-out of my life because it’s scary or hard. Or because they don’t understand. So often, the best thing you can do for me when I’m anxious is simply be with me. And SO often that’s exactly what people don’t wanna do. They flee like their life (or their happiness) depends on it.
I have some bitterness to deal with my friend. And I don’t want it lying around in my heart anymore. I have to do my share of forgiving.
I come before God with so much pain and anger, asking him how in the world I am ever going to be able to live in grace again when I am so torn by how people have walked away, refused to listen or said hurtful things, even if they were deserved. How to I experience God’s love so fully that I don’t need to be constantly concerned with how lonely I feel?
Henri Nouwen writes about loving from a place of being loved in his book, The Path of Freedom. In it he talks about his near death experience and how at peace he felt when he thought he was dying. When he returned to health, he found himself slightly disillusioned with the world. So much pain. So much agony. So much loneliness. How was he going to live in all this again? He writes that he found that the confidence of being known by God gave him strength. “The great spiritual task facing me is to so fully trust that I belong to God so that I can be free to the world – free to speak even when my words are not received; free to act even when my actions are criticized, ridiculed, or considered useless; free also to receive love from people and to be grateful for all the signs of God’s presence in the world.”
I want to so fully belong to God that I am free to love others without keeping a record of how many times they have hurt me. Today, that seems impossible. Who will care for me? Who will be there to pick up the pieces? Who wants the very hard task of loving me? God does. He will be there. The truth is that the more I believe in his love, the less I will rely on my anger to survive my pain. I will begin to allow myself to heal. To forgive. To be present in other people’s pain even when others aren’t present with me. His love is my freedom. And it isn’t simply freedom from loneliness, it is also freedom to bring that freedom to others. That’s a hard task and a great gift.
Today as we celebrate our eternal forgiveness, let’s look to each other and forgive those who love, letting go of our record of wrongs. May this Easter represent the freedom we have to bring freedom to those around us. Let us live in his love today, friends!