"Whoever forgives ends the quarrel." Ancient African Proverb
There have been moments in my life where I have honestly thought to myself, "What do I need to be forgiven for? I'm a good person. I'm not a murderer, adulterer, gossiper, thief, I don't act upon what I sometimes think....the list can go on, you fill in the blanks. "
Matthew 5:21-22 (NCV)
"You have heard that it was said to our people long ago, 'You must not murder anyone. Anyone who murders another will be judged.' But I tell you, if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be judged. If you say bad things to a brother or sister, you will be judged. And if you call someone a fool, you will be in danger of the fires of hell.
GULP....UM...Can I honestly say that I've never been angry? No. Can I sincerely say I have never called someone a fool? No.
I'm not very good at decision making. I am a codependent. I'm a procrastinator as well, and I hate to disappoint people, so I usually leave all the decisions for someone else, that way they are happy. I'm so easy going, that I just follow along. Simple, no conflicts.
Well, I recently made a selection, on my own, that took me months of prayers, pro's and con's lists, and sleepless nights to make, but make it I finally did. No one could make this decision for me. It wasn't easy trying to decipher through all the whirling thoughts, between mine and the worlds and find God's thought on it. And I truly thought it was the right decision. I still do. However, someone was disappointed with the decision I had made and instead of speaking to me directly, they posted their discontent on Facebook.
My first reaction was, "I'll never make another decision by myself for the rest of my life!" I realized that type of thinking wasn't too logical. So I took up another approach. I began to doubt myself, "Did I really make the right choice after months of sitting on the fence, maybe I shouldn't have jumped? I should have thought about it some more and asked more people what they would do." That type of thinking was taking a step back into a codependent lifestyle that had taken me years to climb out of. So, I became angry and with shaking fists and fiery tears, I relayed what had happened to my patient husband.
"Where were they during my questions? Huh?" When I needed someone to talk to about stuff, they sent web sites, links and months of 'we'll, get together to talk soon.' but nothing happened. I know people are busy. I understand that, so I went elsewhere.
"Where were they during my sleepless nights! And now they are judging me? On FACEBOOK!" As my spouse sat there listening to my fits of anger between sobs and self doubts, he waited patiently for me to finish. After a few moments I was quiet, tears streaming down my face.
"Remember last year," he calmly rubbed his goatee between his forefinger and thumb, "when that visiting pastor came.... what was his name again? Tom... something?"
"Tom Blackeby?" I asked blowing my nose into a very full tissue.
"Yeah... that's the guy," he smiled and put his hand on my knee and looked at me deeply, "remember what his sermon was on?"
"Are you kidding me?" I thought. My husband doesn't go to church. He's been maybe a handful of times and he happens to remember the sermon on GRACE! Figures.
I slumped down into my chair, embarrassed at my outburst.
"Maybe, you weren't the only one who disappointed this person that day? Maybe it wasn't you they were talking about? Maybe he wasn't feeling good? When my back hurts... I might be a little grumpy." He smiled, I laughed. He was right. We all say and judge things we know nothing about. Did I call this person to tell them how I felt? No. I judged. I'm sorry.
I called someone a fool. Looks like I'm not as good as I thought I was.
But..... If a murderer has hope... so do I.
One of the criminals on a cross began to shout insults at Jesus:" Aren't you the Christ? Then save yourself and us!"
But the other criminal stopped him and said, "You should fear God! You are getting the same punishment he is. We are punished justly, getting what we deserve for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom?"
Jesus said to him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
What did this criminal do to get into paradise? He believed who Jesus said he was....
It's at this point in our journey that will change us to stop being angry, stop thinking bad thoughts, stop calling people fools and just love them. We can't do it on our own, we need His love inside of us.
For decades, I have held onto a anger towards my mother for her alcohol abuse. I have called her a fool. I have called her a lot worse. I have been frustrated to the point where I just want to shake her silly and physically knock some sense into her. I know my sisters, her sister and my father feel similar.
"Doesn't she see what she's doing to her family?"
"She's so selfish!"
"She's mentally an infant in an adult body."
"If she really doesn't like this life of hers, that she has to drink to forget about it....why doesn't she just....put herself out of her misery."
I have thought these thoughts and more over the past 30+ years that this has been going on. I have prayed to God, to take this anger, frustration and uncaring because of a disappointed heart, away from me. I have asked for forgiveness, because of my thoughts and because of the hardness in my heart towards her. It didn't happen overnight. It's been a work in progress. It hasn't been easy. But, Jesus Christ has been my mentor. If I had relied on humans, or myself, I would not be where I am today.
July 6th, 2010
Arrived at my parents around 6:30pm. Mom was already sloshed. Tripping over things moaning, clutching her belly, walking sideways. That old familiar feeling crept out from deep within me. My body was stiff with anger when she came to hug me. Actually, she fell against me and I had to hold her up.
It was Tante Cobie's birthday. My father's sister was visiting from Alberta. She brought along Dad's oldest sis Tante Leni too, who was visiting from Holland. We hadn't seen her in decades. She must have felt so uncomfortable.
Dad was upset, my youngest sister was flustered, and the other fuming. This was going to be a great get together... I could tell. Mom's presence was irritating.
"Go to bed Mom." I said, "Looks like you're not feeling well. I'll help you up?" She didn't want to go to bed and pushed me aside and fell against the chair. I tried again later. I could tell everyone just wanted her out of the way. I was feeling embarrassed for her.... for Leni and Cobie.... for Sonja and Pauline. Even my brother in-law rolled his eyes at her receding back. We... no I wanted her gone.
"Is it all about you Anuschka?" that little voice asked, "Is this making YOU feel uncomfortable?...What is she feeling?"
"Oh Lord forgive me! I'm sorry for my attitude toward her. Lord, fill her heart with peace - let her know and feel your presence in her life.... Lord heal her... from the pain she feels physically to the pain she feels and is not releasing mentally and in her heart. I ask this in your name Jesus... Amen." There I sat among the family members....who were laughing and talking....and I could weep.
Eventually, during the evening, Mom did go up to bed. God told me to go up there and lay my hands on her and pray a healing prayer over her. I argued with him. It took a while, but I finally listened, the prompting was too strong to ignore.
She woke while I prayed over her. It was beautiful. She reached out and held my arm and said, "Thank-you."
I know with all my heart God loves her and is working on breaking the addiction. Opening her eyes and her heart, to move forward and to stop blaming. Where God's love is, there is always hope.
As I sat in the car driving home that night I thought, "Can you imagine? If everyone at the party prayed over my mother? Can you imagine the power of that? Instead of anger, frustration, hardness, uncaring, neutrality, feeling sorry for, wanting her gone, and whatever other negative feelings people were holding on to that night. Can you imagine if we all turned it around to something positive - to love?"
"To return evil for good is the devil's way; to return good for good is man's way; to return good for evil is God's way." A.M Hunter