Today I have been reflecting on the craziness that was 2011. This year has been one of the most brutal years of my life but a choice comes with living through difficulty. I could have chosen to live in bitterness and anger or I could have learned something about myself, about God and about what authentic community and leadership looks like. This is not to say that I didn’t spend months in bitterness and anger. Forgiveness is a process that the Holy Spirit must partner with us in. It’s not always an instantaneous decision. No amount of coercion, “pep talks” and advice-giving is going to help a person to forgive. It’s something that is simply between that person, God, and the one who offended. It wasn’t just forgiveness that I was dealing with, however, but grief and loss. And during those moments, a friend who listens as you sort out your heart, is one of the most valuable commodities a person can have. I am thankful to have a few of those people in my life this year.
It wasn’t until about two months ago that the Lord met me and the traumatic memories and tormenting thoughts began to leave. Unforgiveness leaves us stuck. There is really no other word to describe it. It keeps us from moving forward and instead we are constantly mulling over the hurt while secretly wanting the other person to be as hurt as we are. The problem is… the other person just doesn’t care. They’ve already moved on with their life and we are still choosing to suffer while unable to move forward in the plan Jesus has for us.
Two months ago I went to Waco, Texas for a conference. I traveled with some new friends from here in Little Rock and I got to meet up and spend the rest of the weekend with my old roommate and others that I have been friends with for years now. The whole weekend was incredibly healing for me. Not only did I receive a powerful word from Jesus who showered me with love and affection but I felt loved by the people around me. It was then that I remembered that I had so much to be grateful for. I remembered that the body of Christ can truly be a safe place; a place of refuge. And I guess connecting on a deeper level with friends here in Little Rock helped me to distract myself from all that has happened and it helped me to move on into relationships that were life-giving and brought me joy.
I guess I have become a grateful person. Grateful for the deliverance of Jesus and grateful for His transforming power in my life. However, no community is perfect. There are still unsafe people who have yet to mature and heal in every local body. Being open with everyone isn’t always wise but as I navigate certain situations and relationships, I value the friends that I can trust. Their honesty and forthrightness isn’t about control or competitiveness. I don’t worry about these friends gossiping behind my back. It is clearly about love. Whether it is helping me to keep a level head in moments of giddiness, exhorting me to have boundaries with a boy, reminding me to be patient and strong, or gently encouraging me to let go of anger– I’m happy to have people in my life that work as different parts of one body. And I remember that I am one of those body parts too!
There have been new developments in my life since two months ago. Some are on the down-low for awhile until it’s time to reveal and others are plain to see like getting a really good job which will allow me to pay off debt so I can keep doing the things He has called me to do. I purchased a new car. I am helping to lead worship again and love every minute of leading others into His presence. And most importantly, I get to love on and encourage people all the time! This is definitely a weird phase of life for me and it is not without some sacrifices but what started out as a year in hell is turning out to be bringing the love of heaven to earth.