I wasn’t the one who did wrong.
I was hurt deeply, you see, so I deserved to feel this way.
And I planned to forgive them, but I didn’t know how. One and maybe I could have handled it. But not when each person’s injury was piled on top of the injuries that had come before. I’m not that strong.
I had books on my shelves that held pieces to the puzzle of forgiving, but I wasn’t quite ready to read them, certainly not to apply them. It wasn’t just the pain, it was the life changes I was forced to make because of each decision, each infliction, that was beyond my control.
But the Lord, he is a tricky thing.
I signed up for the prayer retreat because I love prayer. I love the conversation with my God. I love abiding in his presence, and listening and sharing. And I especially enjoy opportunities to get away to places of beauty and quiet, where I am free to give God my undivided attention.
Arriving at the retreat center, I was filled with joy. Entering the first session, I was filled with calm.
And then the invitation, to go around the room, to make introduction, and to answer the questions: Why are you here? What question will you take to God as you walk the labyrinth? What are you hoping to hear from him? What are you hoping to release?
Like a mother who has taken her child to the doctor on promise of ice cream (Oh, sure. There will be ice cream. But first, let’s go ahead and get these shots out of the way…), the element of surprise, no time to get anxious, just a quick pinch and then all will be well. And I’ll be here with you, holding your hand.
“It’s time,” God said.
“I know,” I replied.
And I did know, because the anxiousness was gone and his peace was present. Why was I there? What did I have to release? My firm grasp on a spirit of condemnation. I wanted to forgive, and I wanted to give up my need to control. I wanted to allow Christ to heal my hurt.
I really should have seen it coming. If I had brought my laptop, I could have looked back at the posts of the previous week and seen that God was leading me to this point. It’s not that I didn’t think I would get to a place of forgiveness, but I figured it would be down the road, after I had figured it all out and knew all the right words, and had sufficiently fortified myself against future attacks. In other words, I would forgive once I had regained control.
Saturday afternoon, after spending the morning reading scripture and resting, I wrote “loose” on my left wrist in thick black ink, for that was my intention. On each finger of my left hand, I inscribed the initial of someone whose debts I needed to forgive, whose actions I needed to release, whose sins I needed to loose. I approached the labyrinth, but I dared not enter. It wasn’t that I thought it was going to be a magical walk, but I knew it would be a powerful one. The path was designed so that I could simply follow, as I conversed with the creator of the universe. No big deal, right?
I circled once around the perimeter of the path, repeating “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
And again, repeating “Whosoever you forgive, their sins will be forgiven; whosoever you do not forgive, their sins will not be forgiven.”
A third time, “Forgive, as you have been forgiven.“
Then, because I still did not feel ready (and because I had made reference to the film The Labyrinth the previous day), I circled, repeating to the evil one “You. Have. No. Power. Over. Me.”
And to his fruit, I proclaimed (circling once for each):
“Bitterness has no power over me.”
“Anger has no power over me.”
“My wounds have no power over me.”
“Pride has no power over me.”
The last circle before entering the labyrinth walk was “God is greater than my heart, and he knows everything.”
He knows how I was hurt. He also knows what was going on in the hearts and lives of those I have been unable to forgive. He knows how he will redeem every person and every situation.
I stood at the entrance to the path, took a deep breath, said a prayer for peace and began my pilgrimage.
(to be continued tomorrow…)
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Spring: part 4 ~ initiated
I wasn’t the one who did wrong.