An Ugly Side of Me

I was shown a very ugly side of myself today, and I am eternally grateful for that. I was completely unaware of this character flaw in myself and I would have remained oblivious if it was never pointed out to me. I am filled with such gratitude, as well, for the compassion, understanding, and lack of ridicule the person who pointed it out showed to me while he was pointing it out. I feel completely blessed.

I was under the impression I was pretty good at forgiving people. I didn’t hold grudges against anyone. I meant it in my heart when I forgave them. I did my best not to bring it up again, unless the course of the conversation somehow led to it; but, I will be the first to admit I wasn’t always perfect at this. I thought my effort still counted for something. These are all good things, or so I thought. But I was missing something, doing something I believe is actually pretty bad. I’m not proud of it, but I am eternally grateful for this opportunity to grow and to change.

My problem is that I hold on to the pain of the wrong done to me by a loved one. I use it as a shield for my heart, so that way if that person does the same thing again my heart is protected to some degree. And that’s not okay. It is still holding their wrong, their sin, against them. I put it between myself and them, for my own protection. This is actually pretty selfish of me.

Yes, it will help shield me from some pain if that wrong happens again. That shield, however, costs something. It puts a barrier between the ones I care for and me. It shows a lack of trust. And many people have said to me that maybe the person hasn’t earned my trust back. You might hate me for saying this, but that view is a very selfish view. If I truly love someone the trust should be there. It is an essential part of loving someone. I believe it is part of loving someone, to make yourself open and vulnerable to the pain another can cause you. Otherwise, you are still—and only—looking out for yourself. I know this view doesn’t agree with the current, popular view on love.

It is one of the many reasons I will be eternally grateful that God does not love like a human. He does not shield His heart from me when I hurt Him, lie to Him, disappoint Him, or sin against Him in any of the plethora of ways we humans are prone to do. He does not give me a ‘last chance.’ He doesn’t hold the pain I cause Him like a shiny necklace or a bright banner above His head. He loves me, completely, in ways I will never fully understand. I do know that no matter what I do He will still open His arms to me and welcome me home. I know that He will always forgive me, give me another chance, and help lift me back up onto my feet.

That is love. That is forgiveness. God commands us to love and forgive as He loves us and forgives us. I wasn’t doing that. I was more concerned with the possibility that I might get hurt again, rather than helping my loved one back up onto his feet in our relationship. I thought I wasn’t punishing him for his wrong doings, but the truth is I was. I was punishing him by keeping a barrier between him and my heart. I was punishing him by holding on to the pain, rather than the love I have for him. That’s not cool. And that’s not love. When you love someone nothing is more important than that love, and you should hold on to that love with both hands as tight as you can.
Instead I made excuses for myself. I came up with reasons to justify this behavior. Again, I am so glad God is nothing like us humans. I have given our Lord and Savior endless reasons to dismiss me. I know that I will give Him countless more before I die. But I rest in the safety and security that God loves me, and will forgive me. There is freedom in that. There should be that same freedom in the way I love others.

He shouldn’t have to wonder if I will hold his next sin against my heart. He shouldn’t have to question my ability to let things go quietly in his head. He should know. He should find that same faith, that same trust, and that same respite in the knowledge that I love him. And I wasn’t providing that. I wasn’t living up to my own words.

The words ‘I love you’ are a gift, and they come with a huge responsibility. They come without conditions, without limits, without chances. Loving someone is so much more than a simple emotion. It is a choiceless choice. It is a surrendering of self to the mercy of someone else. And love should never, ever, be dependent on how the one we love treats us. I was putting a limit or a definition on something that is indefinable.

Yes, I could get hurt again. That is fine. Because there is something more important than my own pain. There is something infinitely more important than the possibility of getting hurt. The person I love is more important. The love I have for that person is more important. By the very definition of love, that comes first.

So thank you, Kiwi, for teaching me this. Thank you for showing me one more way I can better love, forgive, and live as the Lord teaches! I will always be grateful for this lesson!

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