Pain and forgiveness

‘I don’t think I can forgive anymore’ I sobbed as my friend ‘gently insisted’ I go home from work.  I had crumpled at my desk overwhelmed with pain and distress.  It was about 8 weeks since my friends suicide and and I had just discovered another huge disappointment in my life.  Try as I might I could not ‘pull myself together’ to function.  My coping facade had truly slipped.

I went to see the doctor.  She said I was depressed and offered me anti-depressants.  I refused, I was not able to accept her diagnosis  ‘I’m just sad because of bad things in my life’. ‘ I will feel better if I can sleep and get rid of this constant headache’.  I accepted some non-addictive sleeping meds and pain killers.  I got home and sat looking at the meds wondering if they were enough to stop it all.  This thought stirred so much distress in me  ‘how could I, even for a second, contemplate doing to others what my friend had done to me?’  Just the thoughts created nausea in me.

Image

I had never felt pain like this.  I’d had: knee surgery, a c-section, migraines, a broken dislocated finger, a tooth abscess and joint bleeds.  I would of had them all again, at at the same time in exchange for this emotional pain and ‘confusion’. I led in bed awake through the night crying.  I so wanted the pain to stop.  I suddenly understood why people ‘cut themselves’.  I couldn’t do that.  ‘Everyone would know I’m insane’.  I wondered if I could fake a fall down the stairs and break my leg, it was too risky, I may break my neck.  I was mad at myself for not being able to come up with a ‘safe & accidental’ way to hurt myself and create a distraction.  I am sorry if this is to much information or is upsetting for you.  However I am not ashamed of where I have been (I am certainly determined not to go there again).  I am not embarrassed to share, especially in the hope that it may help someone.

The next day I walked on the beach.

alone beach

I was trying to pray and think.  All I could manage was: ‘God, this is not fair’  ‘Why me?’  ‘This hurts’ ‘ God, help me!!’  I walked all day repeating the same things over and over.  I was also listening to music.  There is one song that stands out as being so helpful to me.  It was the only thing to ‘lift me’ to give me any crumb of hope.  It somehow spoke to my  soul.  My friend had sent me a text the day before suggesting I listen to it.  It’s called ‘Blessings’ and is by Laura Story:

“Blessings”

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

As I listened to the song I determined in my heart not to doubt the goodness of God or His love for me.  I so wanted to see some good come through my situations.  I knew I needed to start with forgiveness but it felt so difficult and far away from where I was.  (If you do not share my faith please bear with me and keep reading.  I am certain the things I’ve learned about forgiveness are helpful to all.  Those with my beliefs, others or none at all.)
I started to look at ‘Christian’ websites and resources on forgiveness.  I got more upset and distressed as what I read seemed to minimise my pain.  They made me feel guilty for my anger and reactions to my traumas.  I didn’t get it, what I read didn’t fit or settle with me.  I wanted so desperately to forgive but I couldn’t pretend I didn’t hurt – I wanted reality not pretense.  And as for anger.  Well God Himself gets angry.  Anger can’t be a bad reaction to wrong doing.  Psalm 30 v5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning’  I wanted to acknowledge and process my anger.  I wanted it to be time limited and not turn to bitterness.  I wanted to find joy in the future.
I came across the really interesting work of Fred Luskin a prof at Stanford university.  A good intro to his work is in this article:
I understood that forgiveness would be good for me.  It was not just a ‘religious concept’  It was a spiritual action that would help me heal.  The forgiveness was a decision, an action at a point in time.  The healing that would follow would be process over time.  I read my bible alongside the research and saw they fit together well.
forgive
I’m a pictorial thinker and came up with the following analogy that still helps me today:
Imagine you are a passenger in a car with a friend.  Your friend drives wrecklessly and endangers your life.  They crash causing you major leg injuries and the need for surgery.  As you recover in hospital you have a choice.  Are you going to pursue your friend for compensation and insist they are prosecuted and punished?  Forgiveness says; no I don’t want that.  You can not compensate me and your punishment is not what I want.  I choose to free and release  you from that un-payable debt!  I want you to do well.  Having done this I believe you (me) the injured party can focus on rehabilitation and healing.  However that will take time and the decision to forgive will not make it pain free.  I have a knee scar from a surgery after a skiing accident 16 years ago.  99.9% of the time I don’t know it’s there but if I do something that stresses it – it still plays me up today ( I can assure you I have ‘forgiven’ the ski worker who badly set up my bindings!)  Jesus’ ultimate act of forgiveness was death on a cross.  That act of love left him with scars on his hands and feet.  Those scars certainly do not mean that his forgiveness is not incomplete or ineffective!
As for you and your friends future relationship, well I believe that is a separate issue.  In order to be reconciled your friend must accept your forgiveness.  Constantly trying to pay you back will not work!   They must change. Genuinely commit effort and stop driving wrecklessly (repent is the spiritual word).  If this happens I believe relationships can be rebuilt and trust eventually restored.  It may take some time before your ready to get in the car with them again.  Even if you never get back in the car with them it dose not mean you haven’t forgiven!
I hope my picture makes sense for at least some of you reading.
I am pleased to say I have forgiven and my wounds are healing.  My rehabilitation is progressing well.  I am beginning to see mercy in my situations and good coming out of them.  I hope this post has helped you.
 

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7 thoughts on “Pain and forgiveness

  1. I usually leave all my blog reading for assigned reading times but when I saw you had posted I had to open and read. I’m following your story with thanksgiving that God is faithful to us in the darkest and messiest times. He is faithful to us through things we would often rather keep to ourselves, but if we always keep these things to ourselves, how will we ever help each other and our own selves heal and grow? I am very convicted by your story and the way in which you are sharing it. God is good and He is kind xxx

  2. Pingback: Understanding Forgiveness: Part 4 – The Un-offended Heart | People Being Real

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