Every once in a while, a not so pleasant thought flits through my mind. It is when I remember something bad that has happened in my past. How someone has hurt me, treated me with disrespect, or disappointed me. How I have lost someone or something that I used to love and enjoy. How I failed or got something horribly wrong. My mind skips over a few of the details from the past and flicks its tongue over the bitter taste of the experience. It can't resist poking the empty hole where something used to live, like a tooth that has been extracted.
I usually let the mind have its little foray, which can include some well-executed words (what I would like to say to those who caused me pain), an indulgent pang of longing for what used to be, and a brief moment of self-pity. Then I tell the thoughts to move along, and we get back to reality. I know that these thoughts will decrease over time as I walk forward in grace, so I don't give much thought to their appearance a few times a week. However, a few days ago I realised that by letting my soul walk over the scab, even if only for a moment, I was in fact disrupting the healing process and prolonging the time it would take me to recover. So this week, when that old visitor of remembered hurt came knocking, I wrote a letter.
Dear Pain of My Past:
I forgive you. I do not hold anything against you. I remember everything that happened, but there is no revenge or anger attached to it. I do not need to vent or let you know how you made me feel, nor do I wish bad things into your life as a penalty for my pain. I live in the most gracious presence of a holy God, and I extend that presence to you. I do not remember you with regret. I choose to think of the good times with joy and the bad times with loving understanding that none of us walk a perfect path. Though I cannot turn a blind eye to the dark and destructive nature of evil, I know that carrying a light is the only way to render it powerless. So I embrace the light of loving truth and shine it on both you and me.
My story is not finished. It has not always been a pretty story, but I do not want to erase you from the pages. You are being written into this chapter and the next as a milestone in my maturity and a catalyst for enlarging my ability to love. Your story is not finished, either. I pray that you, too, will become a more mature person, changed by an encounter with grace. Every time I think of you, I will bless you and not curse you. Every time you come to mind, I will smile in wonder at the mysterious ways that God draws us to himself. I am free from the need to revisit the scene of the crime and stare at its ugliness. I am free from the shadow of depression that accompanies each visit. I am free from all side-effects of this pain because love is stronger than it all. You can no longer steal anything from me, because I am loved and I love you. Peace to you. Peace to me. Peace can go where understanding cannot. I live in peace.
The moment I started reading this letter, I could feel wholeness take the place of hurt. The visitor has not come around much since then.
This is a photo of some nifty note cards given to me by a family member.