A situation happened this week that left me feeling like someone had punched me in the stomach.  I heard some news that stung so badly; I couldn’t believe it and yet somehow instinctively, knew it was going to happen. Just when I was starting to heal over this particular situation in my life, the band-aid was ripped off and I was bleeding again.

I’m not sure how you react when life gives you a proverbial punch, but I immediately reach out to those I trust who can understand the situation and also give me sympathy.  Next, the internal tapes of justification start rolling, serving as a self-defense mechanism for this unexpected pain.  Sometimes I cry in response to disappointment, but this time I was just mad.  Finally, I hit the “I don’t care anymore” phase where I mentally willed myself to let the thing go and move on.  Then usually, and unconsciously, I repeat the whole emotional loop.

As if any of these actions make a lick of difference inside my soul….

After a few days of this cycle, God seemed to take notice where my heart was treading.  First up this morning was the fact that Psalms 39 was part of my daily devotional.  As I read these words I knew that David understood the anger and frustration I’d been feeling this week: 

I said, “I will watch my ways
    and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
    while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased.
 my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is. (NIV

Next up was my reading for the human services counseling class I’m taking this term.  Unbelievably, the next chapter was on forgiveness.  The author explains, “Forgiveness first involves recognizing and grieving over the damage that has been done, then choosing to release the negative emotions associated with the offender.”[1]Hum….I’m guessing God has something to say to me at this moment.  I think it goes something like this: “Sissy, it’s time to let this thing go, your days are too short to stay in this place of unforgiveness where bitterness and resentment will only hurt you.”

My only response to hearing such gently revealed truth? “Yes, please show me Lord how to forgive, I know you alone can make me whole.”

People are going to hurt us.  Life involves suffering.  Relationships involve pain.  But so does bitterness and unforgiveness, because these negative emotions keep us trapped in a loop of self-justification and defense.  I don’t want to live my life with armor around my heart.  Armor is heavy and a burden, it hinders and slows me down.  I have to believe there is a better way towards whole-hearted living.

I don’t know how to do this on my own, but the beautiful truth here is that I don’t have to. I didn’t orchestrate my devotion or study time today, but God did and if he can speak to my pain, he can also heal it. Psalms 39:7 continues to say, “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” Selah.

[1]  McMinn, Mark. (1996). Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling. Pg. 207