Have you ever thought you knew something? Understood it? Made your peace with it? Only to have it all dredged up again in light of new information? It’s the craziest thing – to grieve an event twice.
At first, I was hurt, then mad. Then I wanted to shake someone – because that really is the worst thing I can think of, which I’m sure, is plenty amusing. In the end, I was bitter. And so the blame game began – I am the way I am because “fill-in-the-blank.” The new information cut deep.
When this sort of thing happens, it’s easy to fall into my usual routine: binge-read any book I can get my hands on, find a new TV series, get lost in a project… It’s usually easier to avoid the problem that face it. Facing it sounds simply too depressing. Though sometimes I’ll text a friend, “will you pray for me,” and hope that’s enough to smooth things over.
I should know better. These things don’t help. They never have.
When I was in high school, I clung to injustices done me when I was twelve or thirteen because if I let go of them, I no longer had an excuse. Those injustices were a temporary comfort. Something to help me make sense of myself and explain away any problems that arose by blaming them on those wounds. Avoiding and excusing worked – until someone dared to ask me, “Have you ever forgiven them [those who’d hurt me]?”
Like the good Christian girl I was, I replied, “of course I have.”
But I hadn’t. Not really.
When I did, the peace I’d been searching out finally came.
Now, If I’ve found anything in my limited twenty-three years, it’s that injustices never stop coming, and neither does the need to forgive. So, you would think that this reality would have hit me in the face sooner. Instead, it took a hurricane to make me see.
In the midst of my avoidance, as I sat on the couch, lost in another project, I saw the news coverage from the corner of my eye. First it was Harvey, then it was Irma.
Usually I can file natural disasters under “heartbreaking world events,” somewhere in my head, but this time, it was close to home. I heard Irma compared to Katrina and knew it was different – not because they would later downplay that comparison, but because while I remember being heartbroken over the devastation of Katrina, I didn’t know anyone there. This time, I did.
I can count them on one hand, But I know people.
And as I compared maps of my friends’ locations to the weather report, my heart twisted, reminded of the hurt I was avoiding. I couldn’t stay bitter. If I did, this news would keep me awake at night. Because as much as I thought I’d closed the door on that chapter of my life, it had blown open and I needed to close it again.
I needed to forgive again.
Seventy times seven, right?
I should have known that bitterness would only bring temporary relief.
So finally, I began to puzzle out my history, bringing the grace shown to me into the picture. A difficult thing, because even in light of new information, justice still seemed unmet. But, in truth, we may never be able to make perfect sense of our wounds, there may not be any good reason for them. But maybe God’s glory can be found in the grace shown to us, as well as the one who caused that wound.