Gripping my heart, the things I thought I’d let go, fingers flexed to squeeze out tears and the strangest of fears. I thought I’d forgiven. I guess there’s still work to be done.

I had a strange dream a few weeks ago about someone I haven’t thought about in years. This person happened to be on the short list of two individuals I can think of in my life that I had the hardest time forgiving. I don’t really know what brought about this reminiscence but just before I woke up I heard the Lord speaking to my heart that we were going back until I’d dealt with it once and for all.  I really didn’t think I had any issue with this person whatsoever anymore.

Now the other one on the short list, I can acknowledge, still haunts me from time to time. There are days when, though I’ve forgiven repeatedly, the disgust and anger find a way of coming up and sitting in the back of my throat like bile. My husband is so great at catching these moments and reminding me to get it under control. I’m so thankful for him.

This week, I realized how much more work I need to do in this area. There’s a difference between shoving the feelings aside and dealing with them until they’ve been fully uprooted from the soil of the soul. Maybe true forgiveness is a process in which God is faithful enough to remind us about the roots still clinging tightly at just the right moment when we are strong enough to tug them out. Maybe He works on different sections of the garden of our heart because we can’t handle the pain if He did it all at once. I don’t know. I can only relate my experience and my shortcomings.

My ex-husband was a drug addict (I optimistically choose to use the word “was” there in hopes that he is in fact doing better though the bile of cynicism is attempting to creep up even now as I write). The entirety of our marriage was a roller coaster of issues between drug relapses, outbursts of wrath and malice toward me and our kids, pornography, prostitutes and strippers, finally leaving me no choice but divorce. I am so thankful that God protected me and my children through all of the chaos and that He’s brought us to where we are today. I believe that these experiences have served to make me stronger and prepared me for my life. As Corrie Ten Boom said, “This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for a future only He can see”. Still, there are memories, I’d love to forget.

My husband and I have been helping and counseling a family recently who are dealing with issues very similar to my old life and consequently, I am facing memories of the past that aren’t pleasant. In one situation this week, I found myself paralyzed after flashbacks of certain situations came flooding in. Then all of a sudden, with the anger and pain of the memories, a bizarre fear crept in that maybe someday my perfectly amazing husband, who has restored my faith in mankind, could somehow fall victim to some of these atrocious sins and I could end up right back where I came from dealing with the same issues over again.  In the brain, it makes no sense, but in the realm of the soul where my emotions are being sloshed together with pregnancy hormones it hit me like an avalanche and I realized that maybe I’m not as “over it” as I once thought I was. 

All of this, though painful and raw, causes me to be so thankful! In His infinite mercy, God is allowing me to see the areas that still need tending so now, I can move toward healing. Were it not for these moments, I’d still be pushing aside little annoyances and snide comments every time the ex’s name was mentioned. Were it not for moments like these, I’d be walking around with bitterness in my heart unable to move forward. Once light is shined in darkness, the dim is forced to yield to the brightness! That is so comforting to me. I can rest confidently knowing that God is faithful and just to complete the work He began in my heart long ago and bring me to a place of true freedom. When the tears and fears are squeezed to surface, his living water can come in and refresh my soul.

Thank you Lord for every ache, every pain and every tear as long as they draw me nearer to you!