From Colossians 3:12-14
I believe these words are attributed to Paul.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these
virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Tim’s friend, Ron, lost his dad 2 weeks ago. It was/is a very sad thing. He was only 73 and died in his sleep of a heart attack. What made it even worse is that noone was home with him. His wife, Ron’s stepmother, was away on a trip. After several days of not being able to contact him, she called their daughter to go check on him. Very unfortunate circumstances, to be sure. She found him, after he’d been gone for 4 days.
Tim went to the wake last Monday, and I went with him to the funeral on Tuesday. The service was held in the Catholic church that I grew up in. I must say, the priest performed the absolute best sermon I have ever heard at a funeral. He did not know Ron’s dad, who is from this area but has lived in Myrtle Beach, SC for years. He still did a fantastic job of comforting the family. He spoke of God’s promise of eternal life and mentioned, and recommended, a book writtten by a woman, an orthopedic surgeon, who drowned on a canoe trip to Peru or somewhere and came back to life. I plan to read the book, (To heaven and back), but it is currently checked out of our library. He said that God expects us to TRY to be a good person. He emphasized try. He said we all fall short, but we have to try to do the right things, treat people the right way, and believe in Him and we are promised that we don’t die. The priest prefers the term “pass on” instead of “pass away” because he said that Ron(Tim’s friend is named after his dad) is not gone, though he may be away from us, he is still living. The above passage was read during this funeral service. I thought, “uh oh, this is that thing I have such a hard time with.” Forgiveness- I guess a lot of us struggle with that. Tim had talked to Ronny privately the night before at the wake. Ron told him that he had had some real heart-to-heart talks with his dad just recently and his dad had been up to visit just 2 weeks prior and came with him to play darts one night at a men’s club, his dad filling in for a guy who couldn’t make it that night. He felt grateful, but also a bit spooked, that these things had just happened and then his dad dies unexpectedly. He also told Tim that he should try to patch things up with his family. Tim said, “Ron, I can appreciate how you feel, but this isn’t just 1 or 2 things that happened here. It’s been 20+ years of bullsh*t going on. It’s just not that easy.” Ron understood. Near the end of the funeral service, Ron’s half sister, who found her father, got up and did the prayers part where she would say what we were praying for and the people replied after each line. The last line she said was the only one she faltered on. She said, “for those who have been hurt by family” and then she broke down. The priest was nearby, ready to step in, but gave her a minute. She took a few deep breaths, tried again, had to take a few more, and squeaked her way through that last line. I don’t remember the line exactly, but it was something to the effect of “may they be moved to forgiveness and healing.” YIKES!!!! I don’t know if there were issues between her and her dad or what, but she definitely lost it on that point. I thought that maybe I have to try harder to soften my heart. I feel sorry for certain people in Tim’s family. I consider that a form of forgiveness. They are very unhappy people. They will never be satisfied in life because they focus on the wrong things as far as what they think will make them happy. Material things, trying to out-do everyone around them. The problem with them is that they can’t so they set about tearing everyone else down, in a “misery loves company” type of thing. Instead of improving their lives and working on their contentment with themselves, they’ll just rip everyone else to pieces so they can feel better. I just don’t know how you forgive people who set out to make everyone around them miserable AND don’t stop. Tim’s parents have lost countless friends over the years and now their son, and granddaughter, yet, I don’t think any of them have changed their M.O’s at all. I’m not sure they’re even sorry for what they did and said. I think they’re just mad that there were consequences and blaming me and Tim for not putting up with it anymore. My pastor said to me, shortly after this happened, that you can work on forgiveness but that doesn’t mean you have to put yourself back out there to be mistreated again. He said there is nothing wrong with self-preservation. I personally believe self preservation is the most basic of instincts to all living creatures. So, how do you forgive people who are continuing to abuse you? who hurt your husband at the worst time of his life, who kicked our family when we were already down, repeatedly, and continue to behind our backs? The therapist I used to see is convinced that they consciously or sub-consciously took themselves out of our lives to avoid the future pain that may be involved and to spare themselves of having their own lives negatively affected by our situation. How do you make room for people like that in your life when you’re already dealing with so much hardship, and you know that they will continue to make things worse for you? I don’t know. I just don’t. I try to find some way to see that “they knew not what they did” but that’s hard to convince myself of. They did, they really knew what would happen if they didn’t stop doing what they were doing to me/us. They continued anyway, his father and sister-in-law most notably. The things that were said were said for no other reason than to hurt me as badly as they possibly could. Despite this being the worst time in my life too, there was not an ounce
of empathy in these people, not one iota, and that is just something that Tim and I cannot wrap our brains around. So, I will continue to work on being a forgiving person. I hope that God will see my heart and know how much I struggle and try. An important person in my life told me not long ago that I didn’t have a mean bone in my body. I disagreed. This person knows all these players and what happened and when I mentioned that, this person said, “while you may have taken a stand against someone, it was always because you were being gentle to someone else.” What they meant was I did it to protect my husband and daughter. As a wife, mom, and now caregiver, they HAVE to be my first priority. They are. So, FORGIVENESS, it’s a tough one, probably the hardest thing us mere mortals are asked to do in this life. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” I guess I’m hoping that God is a heckuva lot better at it than I am. I’m sure He is. I will continue to TRY.