Friday, March 02, 2007

In a Dark Corner

A little note before you continue reading. Most of my posts have been more devotional in nature. They have come from things God is speaking to me, or something I just felt I wanted to address. They haven't been extremely personal, overall. This one is a little different. Lent does that to a person, I guess. I'm not used to being quite so transparent, especially in such a public forum as a blog. I pray that somehow this will minister to you, my readers.
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So now the "refrigerator door" of my soul has been propped open. Some of the lids on those little containers have been opened, and found full of something less than desirable. The contents have been tossed. That wasn't too, too painful. Things I know God sees in me; things that I knew just couldn't stay.

But have you ever noticed that the little light bulb doesn't quite shed light everywhere? There are still dark places in the fridge. Nice little hiding places for that old Cool Whip container that had leftovers of something (?) I planned to reheat at some point in time...but never did. It's not really hurting any of the other food in the fridge. It's just back there by its little self. Ah, but it is taking up space, isn't it?

The Spirit sees every nook and cranny of my soul. Even the little dark corner where I thought that "thing" was well hidden. You see, my way of dealing with things that are hurtful is to just NOT deal with them. But then, that isn't really dealing with them, is it?

Oh, no...the lid on the Cool Whip is opening now!

I have this whole store of memories in this little dark corner. Most of the time, they're hidden quite well, and ignored (by me). There's a catalog. Title: Every time someone has shown they don't like me or don't approve of me. Every time I have been made to feel unworthy of someone's respect and/or friendship. The categories range from school friends, to school teachers, to boys I liked, to respected church leaders...there are others, but you get the picture.

* My first grade teacher. When another child asked what we were doing next, Mrs. D. replied, "We will be doing such and such." To which the child said, "But Joni said we were doing this." Mrs. D.'s remark: "Well, then, Joni doesn't know as much as she thinks she does. Does she?"

* My third grade teacher, who accused me of cheating on a spelling test.

* Some of my female classmates, who in third grade decided that there were just certain ones who didn't belong in their little circle of friends. Sometimes I was in. Sometimes I was out.

* A list of boys I liked, that always chose to "break up" with me when a cuter girl game along.

* The friends who made jokes about some of my physical attributes as I began to develop. It was supposed to be the big joke...and I laughed. But not on the inside.

* The friends who judged me when a boy of another race started paying quite a bit of attention to me. It was not a mutual feeling. I just wanted to be his friend. But I was judged for wanting to "mix races".

* The time of loneliness in high school, when all my friends spent their weekends partying and doing other things that I knew I could not take part in. And during school, made it very evident that I was now the outsider.

* The coach who always promised me I would play, even though I spent most games warming the bench. He would laud my meager skills in practice, but never seemed to think they were good enough for game time.

* The friend who accused me of "being on something" once, when I was in a really hyper, silly, teenaged girl mood. I was so hurt that this person didn't know me well enough to know this could not have been true.

* The guys in our Christian college who either wanted to date me because "God told them to" or wanted to stop seeing me, "because God told them to". I always wondered why it was that they felt they were so much more spiritual than I was...like I couldn't hear God's voice, too.

* The coach who knew my mom had driven 8 hours to come visit me at college, and would have only one opportunity to see me play on the college volleyball team. And, even though I had played most of the season, chose that one game to keep me on the bench. My mom never got to see me play college volleyball.

* People from a church we pastored, who were cruel, and said horrible things (to me) about my husband. People who I worked so hard to learn to love. People who turned away from us.

* People who have closed themselves off to me, simply because of the journey our family is taking. I am still ME. I am still in love with the Lord. I still need friendships.

As I'm reading some of these things (there are more, but this is enough!), I realize how petty some of these things may seem to others. And maybe they are. The common thread for me, though, is that in each incident, I allowed another person's view of me to shape my view of myself. I allowed a little wound to form, and allowed the hurt to just sit there. It was my only little place of control. Because, of course, I had a right to be hurt and wounded, after what they did, didn't I?

A good friend and pastor of ours once told us, "You can't minister from a wound, but you can minister from a scar." The meaning is simple: An open wound is painful and there is still healing that needs to take place. A scar shows that there was once a wound, but God has healed it.

I have allowed these little wounds to sit in that little dark corner for so, so long. I have allowed them to be my excuse for withdrawing from any potentially hurtful situation that might add salt to those wounds. But now I am seeing that they are prideful little sins, being stored up as my own little cache of excuses for being hurt and angry...and not forgiving others. They are my way of avoiding similar circumstances. "I can't put myself on the line again, and risk another rejection, you know."

I'm really not explaining this very well, but feel this was something I needed to post.

You see, God's Word doesn't tell us to forgive others because they've asked for our forgiveness. It simply tells us to forgive.

"And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us...If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions." (Matthew 6:12, 14)

Ouch.

I wish I could say this is all dealt with, I'm free, and I'm experiencing great joy and victory right now. But that's simply not true. The bottom line is that I'm still struggling with all this. God is working. The Spirit is speaking. My hardness is weakening. I'm repenting. Healing is starting. It hurts, but it's got to be done.

Lent is not an easy journey. But it's a healing journey, that takes us ever closer to the One who gave Himself on the cross for our ultimate healing.

Pray for me. And I'll pray for you.
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