Chewing on forgiveness

Lord, I am sitting here at the page with lots of swirling thoughts and I’m tired. I just realized, I really am tired. I’m leaking joy too. So am I tired because I am leaking joy, or am I leaking joy because I am tired?

Which came first? That is your answer.

Well, there have been several things back to back that (all I can think of are cliches, another fatigue sign) let the air out of my tires…took the wind out of my sails…robbed my joy, all of which have left me tired. I think the fatigue is a result, not the cause.

Yes, remember, the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Yes, I love that verse. So I learned this afternoon that a classmate died, and another is in the hospital, really ill. That is one sort of upset. The other is very different. Every time I do inventory and find items are missing, likely stolen, I always feel badly that someone would do that. Of course now I also have to pay the artist. I am feeling a bit betrayed by that. And while folks have expressed support so far for our upcoming gallery move, I am remembering the last time we had to move, and it’s stirring up a lot of feelings, I think. We were misunderstood and falsely accused by folks who didn’t understand our reasons, folks who didn’t have the full set of facts. I hate being misunderstood. I always feel as if I have to explain. Friends tell me not to bother. So why does it bother me?

It bothers you because of who you are. You are always trying to look out for those around you, to give the benefit of the doubt whenever you can, even to the point of making excuses for unacceptable behavior.

Isn’t that what forgiveness is? Isn’t that what we are called to do?

Make excuses for unacceptable behavior? Absolutely not! Every time I forgive, I Am extending a chance and a choice–a choice to do better, to live better, not to overlook bad behavior and certainly not to encourage it to continue.

So what should I do when I feel falsely accused?

The answer really does depend on the situation. Sometimes it is best to turn aside, and not to respond or retaliate.

Like turning the other cheek?

Yes–but not to give yourself over to be beaten. That was never what I meant, although folks have assumed so. I really meant what I just said–turn aside. Don’t keep standing there, taking it on the cheek. Turn aside, step aside. Don’t stay, and don’t hit back. Turning aside is the third way.

Aha! I get it. So You said sometimes it is best to do that. What other choices are there?

Sometimes it is best to speak up and give your perspective, your side of the story. Sometimes those listening will be interested in the truth but unfortunately, not always. The key for you is to do what you are doing right now. Don’t be like a squirrel, burying your grievances and going back and digging them back up, chewing on the same incidents over and over. What will help you let go and move on in peace? That is the question. The answer is never to bury your feelings only to have them fester and resurface. That only hurts you more in the long run.

If you could say one thing to any of those people you are thinking about, what would that one thing be?

You mean, and have it be effective? Or even if it fell on deaf ears? (See, another cliche. I really am tired.)

Either way. Say you don’t know the outcome in advance. What would you say?

I think I would say something like, I want you to know that I know what you’ve done, or what you’ve said, and I just want to say, you are making a mistake. You may or may not realize it now, but I pray you will realize it soon. You might not have a chance to make restitution to me, but you will have an opportunity somewhere down the road to do the right thing. So I am asking you to remember, to remember this, and do the right thing the next time. And I release you.

Release how?

Just release. Release from the burden, whatever burden, whatever thought, made the person make the wrong choice to begin with. Release from the initial cause.

In other words, you would pronounce forgiveness–for this is what forgiveness is. Release into a new, freer life.

Yes, I guess I would. I am not interested in punishment per se, I’m just not. I’m interested in healing. Although I will say, I am very interested in those who hurt others not being able to continue doing so, willy-nilly. In that sense, I guess I favor not punishment so much as restraint.

True healing, true repentance–a change of mind and behavior–is the best restraint. A true change involves an encounter with radical Love. When you are able to choose that kind of release, you are offering to that person a glimpse of My Kingdom, where radical Love reigns. You are, in the words of St. Paul, acting as My Ambassador, inviting them into a new life of conscious, conscientious connection with Me.

So tonight, when you list your gratitudes, be sure to include this one from Me–I Am grateful that you chose to bring this up with Me rather than burying it. Now I can renew and refresh and release you.

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