Friday, March 7, 2014

Gospel Medicine: Chapter 2 - Arthritis of the Spirit

This blog series is based on the book "Gospel Medicine" by Barbara Brown Taylor, an Episcopal minister who has written several books based on her own life and her sermons. "Gospel Medicine" is a book of sermons around the concept that the Gospel of Christ is medicine to the soul. I discovered this book while attending a morning book club at my local United Church and I was blown away by the depth and beauty of Taylor's writing. These posts will be looking at each of the chapters of this particular book.

This was a tough one.

It's on forgiveness.

I admit, this has been a stumbling block for me. Most likely because when I have forgiven over and over again, it has only come back to haunt me. The people in my life that I have forgiven would continue to do the same things to me. It was a never ending circle. I would get hurt, I would forgive, the perpetrator would hurt me again.

My ex would say to me "if you don't forgive me then that makes you the bigger sinner," which took the responsibility of his actions off of him and put them on my shoulders. It also allowed him to do wrong over and over again and just say "it's in the past you have to forgive."

But forgiveness was never designed to allow people to do bad things and not suffer the consequences. The purpose of forgiveness is to set people free, not chain them to misery.

I learned this when one day I heard a voice in my head that said "You don't have to forgive him on his terms."

Eureka! I could forgive him on my terms. And what were my terms? Divorce. I would no longer have to put up with his behavior.

And so I was able to forgive and move on. He still accuses me of not being forgiving, but he says that whenever he does something that I have to forgive him for - again. But at least I'm not so emotionally involved as I once was.

I still struggle with forgiveness. It's a process that sometimes can take time. When someone does something bad to us, we don't have to forgive immediately. We need time to process and come to terms with it. Sometimes we need to get angry to motivate us to do something. Denying the anger doesn't help us. Accepting it, feeling it, and then turning it to something positive does.

As I go through this transition I realize that I don't want to be bitter towards the LDS church. I see it on the forums I'm on. Some people are very angry and they spew that anger all over the place. I understand the anger. I don't want to be a part of it. I don't want to feel that bitterness. Instead I want to speak calmly about what I'm learning, both the positive and the negative. Some may accuse me of anger or not being forgiving, but it's just me working through things.

I don't want to get furrows in my forehead and frown lines around my mouth and develop a reputation of someone that people want to avoid. 

I have to remind myself as Taylor states,  "We are being forgiven every day of our lives. We are being set free by someone who has arranged things so that we have all the advantages. We have choices. We have will. And we have an advocate who seems to know that we need lots of practice at this forgiveness business."

I need to remember this.

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