Forgiveness: An Open Letter

Remember back to a time when you had gotten the worse sunburn that you can ever imagine getting in your whole life. Remember the sting, and how no matter how much Aloe you applied it was like a drop of water in a desert in the moment of agony. Then the skin starts to peel, and there is this exposed new skin that starts to dry, and feel more like sand paper, and in some cases the burn was so bad that your skin still burned. Now imagine that dry brittle skin doesn’t go away because there is this one brand of Aloe that you need to take in order for the pain to go away this sounds too good to be true right?

Sign me up for a cure all to sunburn, or sunblock. This is how unforgiveness plays out our hearts as a metaphorical look at the condition we leave ourselves in as we hold on to pain, grudges, hurt, etc. We become this baron dried up plot of skin, or maybe land would be a better analogy as the dust bowl in the 1920’s would be another good look considering the agricultural themes the Bible carries for us. One of the chief things that the Lord Jesus asked me to do when I professed faith in him was first to forgive my earthly father for what at the time I considered unspeakable atrocities. This was something that I hung  on to for years not wanting to forgive him for anything he said, did, or didn’t do as these were now all things I couldn’t control. This made life very plain, horizontal, and baron with harsh conditions like a harsh sunburn, dried skin, or a desert.

Do you believe that there is any rest in a desert?

We may come to this realization at some point in our lives that our lives are ours, and we can decide things like outcome, and fate, and how others are remembered. While there are momentary things can alter perception, and you may believe that about yourselves, and you are the master of your own destiny. But friends this is just the here and now when Israel wandered through the desert in the pentateuch there was no rest in Israel’s disobedience, and there were no heroes of the day that mapped out their best lives now. God led, directed, and mastered as well as provided, and established his people as he establishes us today.

What is unforgiveness? Popular Blink-182 song ‘Wildfire’ lyrics say this:

“I don’t forget
I don’t forgive
I’ll never change the way I live
I always fought the urge to fall in line
I turned my back on all the rules
I’ll never heed the king of fools
I’ll never lead the perfect kind of life.”

This is a perfect example of the dialogue of thought that manifests as unforgiveness or unrepentanted as this hostility boils out of our hearts as this were all defilement of humanity comes from the heart (Matthew 15:11). This is generational, and transcultural in nature so don’t think your aggressor is an anomaly as in the eternal view of things humanity as a whole is the anomaly when it relates to God who is holy and thus set apart from relating to us in this way. Unforgiveness is also a lifestyle as seen in the lyrics above this comes from years of hardness, rebellion, and sin that has dried in the heart like cement as this is what becomes of hoarders of forgiveness we become what we don’t want. We become like our aggressors, bitter, and often alone and apart from God. This is counter intuitive to those who do believe because this defies love which is the eternal currency of Christianity John 3:16, John 13, as it prevents the eventual  flow of those whom Christ calls into himself because he laid his life down in love to redeem, and love a once lost humanity forever.

Forgiveness also kills pride and in the West we are taught to be bigger, and bigger because we are more powerful. Corporate America demonstrates this ideology in the culture that they cultivate in the workplace we are groomed on all fronts to be winners at all costs in everything we do. There is no room for sorry in this closed system or forgiveness in terms with this culture which is why we demonstrate such fear, and hostility because it’s always easier to fight back, keep moving, or get revenge than it is to eat the costs of our offenses. It would then make more sense because the pain we carry is less if we engage these routes we can always say that we forgive as the words themselves can carry your name in text, or social media as a quick facebook message can do the trick as it requires no sacrifice on your end and you can still be the hero in your own right. Right? Why say what you don’t mean? Why give someone a gift if you don’t want to give them one? When we don’t forgive someone we indeed ingest spiritual poison that slowly eats away at us and while we are the ones that rage those who have hurt us do not share in this. Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 18:21-35 of the unmerciful servant whom is forgiven of this insanely large debt out of mercy given from the judge. Only to turn around and not forgive the debt of another shortly after being forgiven of much more himself only to be thrown in jail anyway for his hardness of heart, and unforgiveness to another. God forgives us of much more than anyone in this world can ever owe us, and because we are forgiven of much we too can than like Paul in Philippians 4 be joyful much and set our minds on things that are more restful than the pain, and debts others owe us.

You have no karmic duty to uphold, and no cultural superstition that plays out in this world so there is no shame in feeling hurt, grieving, or not being okay. You can allow yourself to be a mess, and mess up because you don’t have to grow old and become this bitter old dinosaur that doesn’t give out halloween candy, or relives his past life well into his 40’s and beyond chasing the rage, or disassociating yourself until you become a shell of who you once were. Jesus didn’t die for you when you were at your best but he died for you when you were and are a mess so he can be your best. So you have this freedom to allow him to wear the hurt of your aggressors, and the shame you carry as an aggressor, or expose those areas to you if you truly have a wonderful life in the here and now.

Forgiveness is not a one and done thing someone of us reading have been through serious trauma, deep pain, and have lost more than we can imagine or maybe you know someone close to you in this kind of Agony. It isn’t something that you can give in haste or give in quantity there may be steps you need to take in which you can lay this down in it’s entirety, but it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible or not worth trying or something that should be done half heartedly because we know the Bible commands us, and because God has forgiven us of much more. It’s a journey you take one step at a time with Christ and one that may leave you repeating steps, or writing that letter to your aggressor or whom ever has hurt you everyday, or forgiving them moment to moment so your heart doesn’t abscess. It’s worth venturing because you will experience the freedom in Christ and the life abundantly that he promises in him when we dive in and follow him.

Calm seas have never shaped the greatest, but it’s worth travelling. So who do you need to forgive? And what is preventing you from forgiving them? What do you gain in Christ by forgiving them?

 

 

“Wildfire” performed by Blink-182, written by Mark Hoppus, Matt Skiba, Travis Barker, and John Feldman. Copyright 2017. All Rights owned by Blink-182.

 

Advertisements

Taking Chances- Jesus Party of Two

Imagine you’re in a room where all your favorite people were, and it’s a party people are serving themselves at this grand potluck where it’s always going to have anyone’s favorite food at any given time. Why? Because we are all close and everyone knows what you like, and so on you are surrounded by the portraits of how everyone is at any given moment. Sounds good so far right? It gets better the music never ends and there is an never ending loop that provides all the feels that your little heart can take. You meet the best people that your parents talk about exactly how they imagine they would appear and exceed expectations you didn’t know you had. Your sphere turns into a buffet line where you have conversations with your deceased relatives that you know are passed, and for a moment you figure that you’re being given some cosmic insight into how feel good the universe and God is and how this moment hinges on all of creation.

Imagine now all this starts to flicker like a neon light outside of a bar or night club in the evening, and suddenly this grand event in your honor starts to look like unplayable characters from a video game. Now these people start to leave, the dip is gone, and you’re stuck eating olives, plain lays chips, and drinking ginger ale that someone bought to be polite. The songs become routine, and unfamiliar, and you realize the people you were once talking to are gone, and that if you had only kept in place like your parents old TV antenna perched on the house, or the TV set you would have good reception back, or would have been able to have a little more time.

Okay so now the culture of this party that you remember changes from bright and beautiful to edgy themes, and maybe you weren’t sure why it’s changing but you now that you’re angry that it did. But your friends, and the people that surround you on an everyday basis are angry for real reasons like war, their job isn’t that great, pride, they are having car troubles, or maybe they can’t communicate with their significant others. Maybe they are just as alone as you are?

But you feel that your anger isn’t justified so you hide it under your bed and go to school, go to work, go out and have fun, go to church. But it’ a lit cigarette under your bed that someone lit at your party once upon a time and you don’t know it’s there and it burns into everything you do. Making you weird because other people know that you had this awesome party once, and they weren’t invited how dare you not include them in this awesome experience. Then you start to realize some of the people at your party weren’t what they seem, and were never there for you in the first place, and these people were important centers of the party. You want an explanation to why they pretended, and hurt you, and why they showed up to your party in the first place, but these people have moved away, changed their address, and number. The pull towards these people start to feel less because of the rift between you and them, and now the constant doubt to whether you want to approach the situation. But you know that you can’t sleep at night and you’re up praying for them rationalizing with yourself whether or not it’s all in your head which most of it is. The pieces that you are missing to this puzzle are now outside your reach for two reasons; the first being that these people aren’t sorry for their trickery, the pain they caused you. They instead feel as if you owe them because maybe your party wasn’t like their previous parties that they went to, or maybe they just wanted to inflict on you which was why they came. Perhaps the dream of punching you drunk in front of your guests would make them strong, or maybe they didn’t get a chance to hit you and they instead pulled you in to stab you anyway, or they wanted to lead others away from you. Maybe this was successful but the bottom line is that these people aren’t sorry for anything that may have come against you on their behalf.

The second reason is that these people are unreachable for a few reasons like they have passed away, or they have moved and you have no way of contact. Perhaps these people ruined things so bad that it’s going to cause you damage just approaching them in any means. But you still know that you have to move past this and so there is now a four way intersection that you are parked at.

You still remember how awesome the music was, and how the food tasted, and smelt and those conversations you had with the ghosts of family past. But those people who are no longer are still on your mind, in your heart, and in your blood and as much as you try and forget your party has become a series of locked doors, a museum of thought, and memorial to a period in time that no one can see which is meant to represent some of the best pieces of you. You find love, and again and again but it strikes a match against this cold wet idea that you recall for flashes in the pan of excitement because the band is back together, and the droves of people will come back. But they don’t and you lose grip on the people around you, and become more and more angry because now the lit cigarette you left under the bed is now a roaring fire threatening structural damage.

One day you drown in flames then you jump into an ocean with no end, and in the sinking you are brought to the light, and in an instant these doors unlock, and the rotting water, and the dust are swept away by a carpenter that is now beginning to renovate the place in your heart where you kept these things locked. He then starts to rip out the molding, and the water, and fire damage that you sustained, and you begin to see that the party you threw once upon a time was very small. The people that you chased, and everything  you had wasn’t a means to itself and the party was actually really small, and the ghosts that haunted you weren’t what they seemed. So you’re alongside this carpenter helping by throwing away things he’s telling you need to be discarded, and you find things that you realize aren’t what you want to hold to.

Suddenly everything is different.

He begins to re-tile the floors, and rebuilds the room but then he doesn’t stop there he starts knocking down walls, and changing the layout of the house. Smoothing out the areas of full collapse, and cleaning out the animals that lived in the basement while finishing, and resetting the foundation. You don’t recognize the house anymore but it carries a familiar look, and those people don’t recognize you anymore and suddenly you’re able to detach.

But those people never gave you closure, and there’s one room that is still locked.

You have two options, you allow Jesus in so he can deal with the last remaining blocks of decay in your heart. Or you can hold onto it until you are dragged along with no means of letting ago you will eventually be stretched so thin you have to make a choice between your sin, or God?

What was your party? Who did you invite? How did your guests respond and would you invite them again?

What kind of life could you have if you were to fully let go of the past, and step into the upward calling of Christ Jesus without being cynical would you make that leap?

o-LOCKED-ROOM-facebook.jpg

 

Graveyard Memories

Shared atmosphere vapor trails in blank stares across a room so crowdly desolate. Always there, always filthy.

Slideshows flicker like the Magnavox eyes shuffle lid to lid, moment to moment as time fleets like dust shimmering in my heart. Always filthy.

Brought out of the infectionatly swollen cardiac arrest, through the waters, so thick drowning with due care. Peeled back potential baking like hot glue amongst the weight of glory that was never there.

Love against the glass ceiling swimming above while the sharks swim below. Sinking into the black and blue that ensues carbonated lungs scream alone in the waves below a somber rock a bye into the phenotics, into the prideless afternoons wasted in silence. Alone in the drink as all the hands let go awaiting always filthy waiting to sink out of mind and out of sight.