It hit me like a ton of bricks. Sitting there in Basic Training, listening to our pastor talk about mercy and forgiveness, I saw that for ten years, I had failed to realize how deeply I was hurting. How my heart was rock hard to the core over things that no longer matter. How I judge every single person and every single event based on those events of my past. How I have been jaded and cheated myself out of so much happiness. A few simple words made me see it….
“Don’t be bitter.”
It was said as part of a story the pastor was telling about his past and how these simple words from his father made him realize that bitterness was controlling him. He built up this story like his dad had imparted some absolutely life-changing wisdom on him and when he said “Don’t be bitter,” I thought, “Is that it? Is that all that your dad said to you that made you tear up just now?”
As the class went on, we continued to talk about the pastor’s favorite Beatitude:
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” – Matthew 5:7 (NIV)
As the pastor continued to talk about mercy and forgiveness and letting go of our “hysterical remembering” of past events (as opposed to a true ‘historical remembering’), I had a real “God moment.” It was like I was no longer in the room with my husband and some twenty other people. I was having a one-on-one conversation with God about something that I didn’t even realize was there. The next thing I knew, I was fighting back tears. Everyone else in the room was laughing about something the pastor had just said, while I searched for a tissue and tilted my head just right, so that no one could see the tears forming in my eyes.
As the study session came to a close and the pastor dismissed us to have some “group time” of prayer and discussion, I could no longer pretend to be okay. All it took was for one person to say, “What did you think of this evening’s message?” for me to completely lose control. All I could squeak out was, “It was hard.” I immediately had to excuse myself because I could feel the tears spilling over and revealing to everyone at the table what I had been hiding for the past twenty minutes.
I went into the bathroom and fell to my knees. I sat there on that bathroom floor crying and praying to God that he would help me find my way out of this hurt…this pain…this anger…this resentment. I begged him to help me stop my hysterics long enough so that I could at least make it home and, in return, I promised God that I would seek out His wisdom and His guidance in dealing with this emotional baggage that I never knew I was carrying. God granted me my request and I was able to stop crying long enough to go back to my husband and get ourselves home.
All I could see in my head throughout all of this was the face of my tormentor – The one who I have hated for so many years and the one who I have always seen as my enemy. God placed his face in my head and ran all of the memories back through my brain during that bible study session. I can only imagine he did that to remind me that hating the person who put me through so much was never going to make the pain go away. The only way I was going to “get over it” was to show mercy, so that God could show me the mercy of helping me move on.
I still have not come to terms with all of this, but I am trying. I am keeping my promise to God to really look at my past and try to move past the pain and anger. God is showing me mercy and it is by His grace that this anger can be replaced by love and forgiveness. I’m not there yet, but I’m on the path to release.
Are you holding on to anger or pain and it’s time to let go? Are you ready to “release those who have hurt you?”
Copyright © Lindsay Chung, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved