Would you like a renewed mind? A mind released from rage, indignation and bitterness? A mind at peace or would you prefer to spend your days locked up with anxiety and panic?
I found a way out of what I called the mess of my life. It wasn’t as simple as crossing a state line nor as hard as going on a backbreaking year long journey around the country with my horses. But it was as simple as saying yes when I was invited to church. Saying yes when someone asked if they could pray with me. Saying yes when someone asked if I believed in God. “Yes” opened the door for me.
Forcing a “thank you” prayer out of my mouth was in the very beginning of this journey and it was short and sweet, “Thank you for this breath.” That was all I could come up with.
I found the bible very confusing, as if it was written in a different language. So I relied on the words of others more firmly planted. My ears perked up when I heard what Jesus said about how to treat our enemies. I guess because my enemy was all I thought about and I really wanted to erase those tapes. What I heard was this; Jesus said to love our enemies and to pray for them. He said to turn the other cheek. To give them our shirt. To forgive them!
I was outraged. No way!
The first thing I had to learn was that forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. And it doesn’t mean being a doormat either. Without repentance there can be no reconciliation. Forgiveness is something you do for yourself.
Getting from hate to love isn’t a single turn, in fact, you have to build a new highway system in your brain before you can navigate to that destination.
Forgiveness was a difficult thing to wrap my mind around, and something that has been more of a process than a single step, one that might need to be chipped away at and repeated daily for the rest of my life. For me, it started with trying to put myself in my oppressor’s shoes; he must have had a horrible childhood, maybe he never felt loved, did he feel abandoned as a child, he must have been betrayed by someone he loved, he must be so insecure that he’s overcompensating, he must think his success is his only attribute or value to being loved and respected, he’s so stressed out…
At the same time, I forced out a prayer for him, because that’s what Jesus said to do. “God, fix him,” was all I could come up with.
Baby steps I know, the steps of a newbie Christian, right? Well I was a newbie, and I had a lot to learn. That was six years ago and I’m still learning, it’s not a single step, it’s a process that will never end. Stick with me, it is so worth the journey.
Pic above is “The Narcissist #1”, oil on canvas, 36” x 36”, circa 1999
(painted over, cut up and reassembled over the ensuing years)
And just so you know I’ve made some progress, below is what I sent to him today: