Yes, I’m on a mission to quit runnin’ around like an unfocused busybody. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always gotten sh*t done. It’s just that it was mostly unnecessary sh*t. With so many LIL things getting checked off my to-do lists, my jam-packed days weren’t getting me anywhere closer to God. That realization came late and yet, right on time, for Love knows best and knows me best. A couple mornings ago, something else hit me. For all the minutes and hours I’ve wasted on non-consequential tasks and activities in the bigger, eternal scheme of things, they don’t compare to the many years I wasted being bitter or unforgiving towards various peeps at various times in my life, or conversely, being on the receiving end of unforgiveness. After all, looking back…
I friggin’ lost my dearest friend in the world for about twelve years. I couldn’t pinpoint when or why we suddenly grew apart. I could recall no argument or disagreement. I didn’t harbor any ill feelings. Yet, before I knew it, months and then years passed without any intimate communication. I got no response to my sporadic messages or emails. Something was up, but I didn’t know what. I couldn’t shake that unsettling sense of loss. Still, time went on. So we didn’t attend, or know about, each other’s weddings (only 2-1/2 months apart). We didn’t attend, or know about, the births of each other’s firstborns (both boys and only a month apart). We didn’t know that we’d even become in-laws (our cousins had married). We didn’t share the ups ‘n downs of the most monumental, and most menial, aspects of our young adult lives.
Eventually, I heard through the grapevine that long lost friend and I had both become moms. I reached out with a short congratulatory email to test the waters; she replied with a short congratulatory response. And that was that. Fast forward another couple years: I emailed her to tell her I often think about her and wonder how she’s doing and how or why we lost touch; would she like to get together? More silence. (Later I’d learn that she never got that email.) But then, a few years later, she called. God had woken her in the middle of the night on two separate occasions with very vivid and heavy dreams about me, so vivid and heavy that she cried uncontrollable tears over me. She knew then that it was not in His plans for our friendship to be “over” just yet, that we were meant to be in each other’s lives.
We talked for hours on the phone. To make a long story short, she’d been going through a lot, personally, around the time we first grew apart, but I wasn’t in on it. She couldn’t share it with me, in part because I failed to make myself emotionally available, as a good friend should have. A year or so later, I was still caught up in my own world (of boys and school, most likely. D*mn boys and school!), at which point she decided my friendship was not worth having. She’s forgiven me for that now and I’m ever so grateful. For we truly are bosom buddies. We laugh, cry, (over)share and fellowship together like nothing else. Her uninhibited laugh, her wise counsel, her forthright accountability, her kindred spirit, and of course, her like humor (We’re always saying, “That’s just wrong” as we’re shakin’ our heads and howling our *sses off) — are perfection to me. What sucks most is I know I’d be closer to Jesus in my faith journey today had we not “broken up” all those years. What waste.
Overlapping in part with that tragic separation from BFF, I also lost about five years – the youngest and freshest years too, darnit – of my marriage. Doing what? Holding on to resentment toward DH. I let my disappointment, impatience and unrealistic expectations get the best of me, robbing us of some potentially great years of marriage. In hindsight, I so wish that I’d allowed God to soften my heart earlier on, and even more, that I’d realized from the beginning that marriage was not, was never designed to be, nor ever would be, the thing to “complete” or “fulfill” me. But instead, I fought the idea of being the one to “give in,” accept, or change first. I thought, as so many spouses do, “Why should I change?? No, I don’t want to change; I want him/her to change!” The more stubbornly I held on to that mentality, the more grief I caused myself (most of all), but also DH and (less evidently but unavoidably) our kids too. Clearly, staying peeved and keeping our relationship and friendship from moving forward those first years, did nothing to enhance either my life, my marriage or my walk with God. Once again, I know I’d be closer to Jesus in my faith journey today had I not stayed bitter all those years. What waste.
Finally, my folks and I lost about five years of kinship with my only sibling and his wife. After years of escalating friction, miscommunication, differences, distrust, inability (or unwillingness) to be neutral or to give each other “the benefit of the doubt”, the ticking time-bomb finally went off. The family split, with two factions going their own ways and virtually no contact for about five years. Admittedly, it was easier and more tranquil to have no contact than to keep forcing family gatherings where, undoubtedly, someone would walk away hurt, offended or turned off, yet again. But even then, I never wanted the estrangement from my brother and sister-in-law to last forever and hoped that “someday” we’d all reconcile. My heart broke most of all for my aging parents – Asian parents – who lost a child – a son, a first and only son. (If you know anything about Asian culture, you know that’s a huge deal.) So, bitter as I was, I prayed (and in hindsight I wonder if all of us prayed, individually) that the Healer would slowly work on each of our hearts and bring us to a time and place where we were all equally ready to accept responsibility for our own mistakes, forgive the others for theirs, and start anew with more love, grace and mercy. (“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3) After all, we were all of us “Christians.” (By that, of course, I only mean we’re God’s imperfect but beloved works-in-progress, none better or worse than the other, yet fully accepted because of His grace and Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.) Being the ever-faithful One that He is, the time and place finally came. Last fall, Dad’s appendix burst, putting his life at risk. Brother and his wife came to the hospital. After that, they started to visit my folks more at home. And since then, we’ve been able to enjoy a few smooth, peaceful and fun holiday and birthday celebrations together as a family. I’m so relieved. While I’m sure maturing on our own was good for each of us, I’ll say it again: I’d be closer to Jesus in my faith journey today had forgiveness reigned in my heart all those years. What waste.
THESE DAYS, my heart is lighter and my sleep sounder. I can think of none against whom I bear a grudge or resentment. And guess what. It’s THE BEST FRIGGIN’ FEELING IN THE WORLD! I am free. I am free to give and receive love. I am free to receive and give grace. I am free to accept and offer mercy. I am free to recite the “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” part of the Lord’s Prayer without any uncomfortable pang of guilt. I am free to live fully.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – I Corinthians 13:4-7.
one who’s grateful to be forgiven