Humans, we are such complex creations. Made to live in community and pursue connection, the differences in our character make for a beautiful jumble of stories: stories of pain, of victory, of love and loss. There is so much joy in the knowledge of our consciousness, our awareness of self and those around us, and the greatest gift of all – the privilege of knowing our Creator.
We’re created uniquely; each man with his own capacity for emotion, physical duress, spiritual connection and that for love – giving and receiving it. The greatest example and highest standard is God’s love for His creation: it’s the unconditional nature of it, it is unyielding, unrelenting and unending, and oh what a blessing. I am comforted by the security of my Father in Heaven’s love: Who, in spite of everything I do daily to break His heart, my fearful responses to His calls to take a leap of faith, my despondence to what I perceive to be His indifference or silence and my tendency to yield to my fleshly desires – He stands firm in love, correcting me, allowing His words to be a lamp unto my feet. I don’t give Him enough credit.
Which brings me to my next point. Our complexities are often cause for contention, where there is conflict, there is hurt – one never sees smoke without fire. Hurt breeds brokenness, and broken people only perpetuate this cycle by projecting forth what they feel. I am one of those people, and I have hurt those closest to me because of my experience at the hands of two broken individuals. I understand my hurt, and the reason for much of my thinking and perception of the world around me; on the most part, I like to believe that like a broken jar of clay, I’ve been put back together and made even better than before – and yet, the scars, or fragment joints remain to remind me of what once was. I look at myself and think: “I am not this person. I am not defined by experiences long past.”
There’s a story in the Bible, of a man who was forgiven a great debt, and another, who was forgiven of less. The question asked by Jesus in the end, is who does the reader think will display greater gratitude? The obvious answer is the former character – but the plot thickens… shortly after being forgiven his great debt, this man continues to demand repayment from a friend for what is a penny in comparison to his original debt. Word gets back to his creditor, and he has the ungrateful man thrown in prison until he can repay his original debt: chiding the man for his ungratefulness. I know I am this man, in terms of the great debt I owe God – but daily, He offers new mercy and grace for the day. It would be unfair of me to similarly begrudge forgiveness on others, in light of my own shortcomings. I have lied, many times, and it seems mostly when it’s mattered the most to speak the truth. I have acted selfishly too, blinded by my own hurt, that I refused to think of the consequences of my actions on those closest to me. It is for these reasons that I feel obliged to give freely the forgiveness and grace I receive with such generosity, at the break of each day.
I can’t speak for another person’s hurt, but I can take responsibility for it where I am concerned. I will never know the intimacy of private thoughts in another’s mind, but I can interpret actions displayed for the world to see. I will never understand the mathematics of an apology withheld for months, but I can choose to value an apology given, trusting the timing of God’s hand over my life. I don’t believe anyone wakes up with the intent to bring me hurt, I also clutch closely to my heart the belief that those who love me have my best interests at heart, and want to see me grow to become an amazing woman. Love believes the best of another, love pursues connection in times of hurt, love forgives, love is kind, love is not circumstantial, but it is consistent, even in times of intense dislike or dwindling desire. Love guides our integrity, and it protects. Love always hopes.
Love, in its own nature, demands the perfecting of the beloved.
– C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
I commit to trying to understand the pain behind a person’s decisions, especially the ones that have adverse effects on myself. I don’t want to live in constant blame of others, always withdrawing my victim card. I am responsible for what happens around me, because of what I project.
…suffering is not good in itself. What is good in any painful experience is, for the sufferer, his submission to the will of God, and, for the spectators, the compassion aroused and the acts of mercy to which it leads.
– C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain