Monday, December 10, 2007

How to Forgive When You Don't Feel Like It

I'm back, sort of. I had a major flare up of my rheumatoid arthritis last week, and I'm still fighting it. Just when I thought I was doing better, I get slammed with this pain and exhaustion, and I don't know how to deal with it. The first day or two, I tuck into bed and take it easy. I try to enjoy the rest and read as much as I can. By the fourth day, I'm ready to pull out my hair as the house descends into chaos around me, and I'm helpless to do anything about it. Jesse's in his last week of school before he gets his associate's degree, so he's swamped with schoolwork, and the kids are at their dad's for the month, and when they are home, they don't want to help with the mess they weren't there to make. So the house is a wreck, the laundry (clean and dirty) is piling up, and I want to scream in frustration. I get up and do what I can, but whenever I overdo it, I (and therefore everyone else) suffers. This is one of those times when I see the value of the intergenerational homes of a century ago. When someone was ill, there was always someone else to pick up the slack. And trust me, I've got a lot of slack. The Enbrel hasn't kicked in yet, and the nurse I talked to last week said that I may not see results for three months. It's getting harder to give myself that shot when I don't see any improvement from doing so.

How to Forgive When You Don't Feel Like It by June Hunt is a terrific book about the power of forgiveness, not just on the recipient, but on the giver as well. Hunt uses the analogy of a bag of rocks for the weight of unforgiveness that we carry around with us. These rocks of anger and bitterness weigh us down until it is difficult to move. She uses rocks in various metaphors throughout the rest of the book with varying effectiveness. The pressure used to make diamonds is appropriate to describe how God uses trials to make us shine. But Hunt is at her best when explaining why forgiveness is so vital. I was struggling with some issues in this area myself, and I read the book looking for answers. Hunt's most important point: forgiveness isn't a feeling. It's not something we can just do on our own. It's difficult and occasionally painful, and we need God's strength to do it, but in doing it, we will be blessed. Not only by God's forgiveness of us in return, but also in releasing his blessings to us. I took the steps that Hunt recommended and asked God to help me forgive certain people. It immediately gave me peace in my own mind when I didn't have to think about the hurt. But surprisingly (without me saying anything to the ones who hurt me), they made several gestures of goodwill. Hunt helped me to see that by holding my anger close, I was holding God's blessings away. Even if there aren't results like I experienced, forgiveness is essential for our spiritual growth. Hunt includes several anecdotes about anger and forgiveness, even exposing her own hurts for the reader. The book is written in a non-preachy style that's easy to empathize with. If you're hurting, this book can help be a balm to your soul.

Note to self: no more reading political books before bed. Last night I read Laura Ingraham's Power to the People until I dropped off. When Jess came to bed at one (more homework), I told him about the dream I just had: I dreamt that I was at the United Nations. It was set up like a church. The only other people there were delegates. They went up to a microphone and said a few pleasantries that meant nothing, then they left without listening to the responses or comments of any other delegate, and the room was quickly empty. No subtext there :)

Today's picture is making the emails rounds. It's a real life Bambi and Thumper. There's a whole series of pictures taken by Tanja Askani, and they are absolutely beautiful. I need a little of this peace in my life right now.


HopeForTheHeart said...

Thanks for making a comments about June Hunt's Book. It's a powerful book and people around the US are being touched by it already. i hope it continues to touch people's lives.

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