This morning I got up to write as I normally do; but I couldn’t find anything hot to drink. (A hot drink is necessary for early morning writing sessions.) I’m staying with my wonderful granddaughter a few days. She and her parents are moving. Therefore, everything in the kitchen has been relocated or put away getting their home ready for resale. I spent about 45 minutes trying to locate something hot to drink. After finding the tea, I tried to find a comfy place to sit. All their little nooks and crannies were deemed clutter. Therefore, there is only a couch in the living room.
Before starting to write, I settled in to edit the last blog entry. One of the wonderful things about writing on the Internet is that new edits are always allowed, even encouraged. Once a book is published in paperback, there is no hope that you can change, correct or improve the thesis until the next edition is printed. Yet, the Internet is much more forgiving. If you know the password, you can always rewrite.
We often warn each other as Christians that once the present becomes the past, there is no changing what has been. Of course, that is true. Past hurts still string. A wounded memory remains a tender bruise. Broken relationships shatter beyond repair.
Yet, the present time has a wonderful ability to edit our lives if we are willing to do the hard work. Forgiveness and reconciliation coupled with God’s love produce a marvelous effect. Past hurts can be changed into lessons learned and the benefits can change our lives and the lives of others for generations.
Many years ago, I learned this lesson from my mother. She had a sister who constantly looked down on everything my mother owned. For years, we heard how her car was superior. Her house had more room. Her yard was a garden, not like mother’s. Soon after my husband and I moved to Florida, Mother’s entire family came to visit the two sister in Charleston, SC. The plans were made to have the big gathering of the family at my parents’s home. Everything else was happening at my aunt’s home.
The day before the big dinner, my aunt made her announcement. “We can’t possibly have our dinner at Frances’ house. There is no way everyone will fit into her tiny yard. I decided that we must hold the dinner at my house. After all, I have the large house and the large garden.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I’m completely prepared to have the dinner here. Frances, I won’t take no for an answer.”
My mother blushed but smiled at her sister’s rude insults. I could tell Mother was hurt because she, too, had been preparing for the family to come to her home for the meal. But Mother said nothing.
As Mother and I were doing the dishes after a light supper, I began to spill my anger, “Why do you let her do that to you? She always insults you and you stand by and take. Why?”
Grabbing a large stack of dished to wash, Mother expertly slipped the plates in to the water. Then Mother smiled and looked at me, “Honey, when you have been hurt as many times as I have, you learn that it’s not worth the frustration to let insults effect you in a negative way. My sister is an unkind, unhappy old woman. I sure don’t want to be like her.”
Mother had learned to let hurts and insults strengthen her, rather than live with the residue of pain.
With God’s love, a wounded memory can become a reflection of what should have happened, not a tender bruise. In fact, I’ve found that the most hurtful things in my life become such distant memories that I’ve lost the details. Without their rehearsal in my mind and repeating details with my mouth, the shock and awe disappears. Then, healing and forgetfulness replace the trauma.
I believe that broken relationship cannot be ever be repaired. Nevertheless, with forgiveness, rather than living with a broken relationship, now a more wholesome one can be built. Years ago, I hurt a dear friend with an unkind remark. She was going through a hard time and I added to the wound. Because of my insensitivity, I knew that our relationship was shattered. There would be no repairing it. Relationships are like expensive glassware. When carelessly dropped on a hard surface, glass doesn’t break. It shatters, into tiny pieces that defy repair.
But forgiveness is an amazing quality, I found. It is true that my relationship was shattered beyond repair; yet she loved me enough to begin to build a new relationship built on forgiveness. After a few years, trust was regained; but our friendship was not restored. It was replaced by a new, less fragile but more tender love. She made that happen for us. I was much too embarrassed and afraid of hurting her again to pursue her with vigor. It was as though my friend sensed my fear and her love rushed in to replace–rather than repair.
The Lord is such a redemptive savior that even the past can be edited through his gracious love. Has there be a hurt that keeps festering? What can you learn from that experience? Is there a past wound that doesn’t want to heal? While God doesn’t give us the ability to forget, remember time does bring forgetfulness, if we refuse to rehearse the event. Is there a shattered friendship you have been able to replace with a new more sturdy relationship?