I’ve been reading Captivating…again. This is definitely one of my all-time favorite books. I don’ agree 100% with everything Jon and Stasi Eldridge say, but I do think they really hit the nail on the head with this one.
There is a truth here about the wounds we receive…there are varying degrees of bleeding, but as my sister says, “just because someone has a knife cut, doesn’t mean anothers’ paper cut doesn’t bleed.”
I was thinking of different ways I let my past wounds dictate who am today. For many years, I lived in a form of denial, telling myself that whatever happened I must have deserved, or that it didn’t matter. But the truth is, often the wounds we receive, as children or adults, often they weren’t deserved…and whatever they say…they did matter. They do matter. Because you matter.
“As Augustine wrote in his Confessions, “The tears…streamed down, and I let them flow as freely as they would, making of them a pillow for my heart. On them it rested.” Grief is a form of validation; it says the wound mattered….That’s not the way life was supposed to go. There are unwept tears down in there–the tears of a little girl who is lost and frightened. The tears of a teenage girl who’s been rejected and has no place to turn. The tears of a woman whose life has been hard and lonely and nothing close to her dreams. Let the tears come.”
Realizing this has been hard for me…it is hard for any of us. Acknowledging that it mattered means that we aren’t strong and unfazed…that we can be hurt, and we do bleed. It takes away a bit of our sense of self-confidence, our ability to handle anything that comes our way. It puts a dent in our facade. Acknowledgment can make us weak.
It shouldn’t. But often, we let it demoralize us. We let acknowledgment dictate who we will be, making us less of a person. That’s the trap I fell into.
Instead, acknowledgment should build us up. Make us realize that we do carry worth. All of us. Sometimes that worth is trampled on by others, but our perception of our worth should never come from someone else…it should be reflective of Christ’s love for us….the worth that God put on us…deeming us worthy, for our very lives to be traded for His beloved Son’s.
Acknowledgment should lead us to forgiveness. I get caught up in that part, too. We think that we may have forgiven those that hurt us, but somehow, some way, our souls drag those old offenses back up. And that is what truly tears us apart.
“Okay–now for a hard step…a real step of courage and will. We must forgive those who hurt us. The reason is simple: bitterness and unforgiveness set their hooks deep in our hearts; they are chains that hold us captive to the wounds and the messages of those wounds. Until you forgive, you remain their prisoner. Paul warns us that unforgiveness and bitterness can wreck our lives and the lives of others (Eph. 4:31, 32; Heb. 12:15). We have to let it all go (Col. 3:13)…Forgiveness is a choice. It is not a feeling–don’t try and feel forgiving. It is an act of the will. “Don’t wait to forgive till you feel like forgiving,” wrote Neil Anderson. “You will never get there. Feelings take time to heal after the choice to forgive is made.”…We acknowledge that it hurt, that it mattered, and we choose to extend forgiveness to…those who hurt us…Forgiveness says, ‘It was wrong. Very wrong. It mattered, hurt me deeply. And I release you. I give you to God.'”
Often I work myself up to a place of ‘feeling forgiving’, but that is not true forgiveness. I don’t place the hurt, my heart, or those who have done me wrong, in the hands of God. I simply shove it away in an old box, to be reopened at some later date. I hold on to the idea that those people were thoughtless, uncaring, self-centered…and I use that to fuel my own subtle form of unforgiveness.
“It might help to remember that those who hurt you were also deeply wounded themselves. They were broken hearts…and they fell captive to the Enemy…This doesn’t absolve them of the choices they made, the things they did. It just helps us to let them go–to realize that they were shattered souls themselves, used by our true enemy in his war against [us]….And then, with an open heart, we simply ask Jesus to heal us.”
And this was a real wake-up, a slap of cold water in the face. They still did something, said something, that was wrong, that was uncaring, hurtful…damaging. But they were just like me. They all had their own wounds to speak of. They too were shattered, broken. And that same worth that my God places on me…He gives to them. He longs for them, too. Do those who’ve hurt me even realize that they have done so? How many times have I, knowingly or unknowingly, given wounds to another? Do they hold this against me?
Do we allow our lives to be shaped by the past? Do we allow ourselves to victimize ourselves? To excuse our behavior?
“Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
~”Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37
~”And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:25, 26
It is only after this step, that we can truly allow Christ to begin the healing of our hearts we so desperately need.