I tend to get hungry when I drink alcohol. I don't know if this is the case for you, but I definitely do. My freshman year of college my neighbor, Hippie Rob, officially dubbed me the "Toppers King" 'cause I'd always end up dialin' for Topper Stix.
Tonight, after my fourth pint of Guinness, I decided that a trip to Jimmy John's was absolutely necessary. Bad move. Of all the places to go, and of all the time's of the night to go there, there she was. In the lobby. A person from my not so distant past. Someone who, whether she knows it or not, caused a great deal of pain in my life.
A broken relationship. Something that was never resolved. Something that didn't have a happy cliche' ending. Something I chose to end, because trying to pretend everything was all good was the furthest thing from the truth.
And as I stood waiting for my sub to finish being made, I swear the clock stopped. Freaky fast? My ass. I felt sick, almost as if I didn't want to eat anymore. All the bad memories surfaced again. All the hurt and pain from less than a year ago, which prompted me to begin this blogging experiment, was back in a big way.
I had to make a decision.
We've seen each other, now what? Do I walk out with my sub, without further acknowledging her presence? Do I put on a sickeningly happy front? Do I pretend every thing's peachy between us?
I chose to briefly say hello, and made a bit of small talk before taking my leave. I don't feel like it was horribly awkward, actually. If I'm completely honest, it was actually good to see her face again, that's what bothered me. I didn't want it to be ok.
As I drove home, I tried to put the pieces together. Why was this so disturbing to me? This is someone that I'd claimed to have forgiven. I'm glad to see her doing well, right? I've moved on, haven't I?
And that's when it hit me...
I hadn't really forgiven her. Not fully, anyway.
It's so damn easy for us to say we've "forgiven" someone. It's so damn easy to talk a good game, all the while dissociating ourselves from anything remotely related to the past injury. Am I right?
It's easy to say you forgive someone if you completely block them out of your life. If you never have to see them again, then it's easier to forget, and much, much easier to forgive.
But when something, like tonight, happens it kinda shakes you a bit. It shook me. I realized that, maybe I haven't fully let go of my anger. In fact, I know I haven't. I felt angry at Jimmy's. I felt vengeful. Even now, I hesitate to write this, because it isn't very flattering. It's never flattering to admit that you're in the wrong.
It would be a lie to say that I saw her, and that I had nothing but warm fuzzy feelings inside.
It was in this experience that I realized something about faith in God, and about living a life in pursuit of Christ...that we can only truly feel the weight of our words, when those words are put to the test.
Tonight was the litmus test of my healing process.
The results weren't what I expected. In a way, it's very frustrating, because I just want to be done. I want to heal. I want to love this person as myself. Deep down, I do.
But it doesn't just happen overnight. It may not happen in a year. Or two. Or five. What I realized tonight is that forgiveness is a choice, and a discipline. It's a conscious effort. I'm glad that we talked briefly. I'm glad that I didn't choose to walk out ignoring her. Was it hard to do? Absolutely. But it's another step.
Isn't that what life's really about? Our choices?
Each choice is another step toward our final destination. We choose our path on a daily basis. These tests aren't mishaps. They aren't mere coincidences. They're road markers.
Something that I've determined to do whenever I feel in the unforgiving mood, is to remember my savior. The man who gave everything for me, and continues to intercede on my behalf, even though I continually hurt him. Though I'm unlovable oftener than not.
As this knowledge slowly begins to seep into my heart, I start to realize that if I'm given the grace to be imperfect, why should I withhold that from another? Is my standard for others holding them accountable for sins in the past, sins that my Savior has pardoned? Who am I to place myself in that position? Who am I to hold a grudge?
And the answer is this: I am nobody. I have no right.
Humbling as this is, it's also a freeing realization.
I welcome the tests that are placed, so carefully, within my life everyday. With these tests come not only the choices that determine our destination, but also truth about, and freedom from the things that would keep us enslaved to ourselves.