grief

The Ridiculousness of Forgiveness - Part 1

“This isn’t fair!” I screamed.

The storm doors never felt like such a terror to open, as I rushed out to the front porch in tears. Just three days after our Macbook tattle-tailed my husband’s double life, God called me to a form of voluntary suffering when He whispered; “Forgive Burris.”

I couldn’t stop shivering. 

“I didn’t deserve this! How dare you ask me to forgive him, and this quickly!” I wrestled aloud.

Maybe it was the crisp October evening air in Northern Michigan that sent my body shuddering to keep itself warm, but I am not convinced that it wasn’t the realization of this weighty truth; as a Christian, I have signed my rights away to unforgiveness.

Tears flowing down my face, I winced at the idea of this unreasonable request. You see, when I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I planned to hang my husband for his sin, I wasn’t kidding. This deed of adultery was my royal flush, giving me power to avenge any pay back of my choosing.

Oh I know. I am first in line to admit that I have said yes and amen to many a sermon talking about forgiving your brother. You know the scriptures well, where Peter turns to Jesus and asks him “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21)

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:22)

Ok. This is all fine and dandy when we are talking about two believers failing to be kind toward one another when they disagree about an open handed issue in the church, but we are talking about my believer husband who had been caught in adultery

One time forgiveness felt impossible, let alone seven. It just didn’t make sense. 

Forgiveness would be an exchange of my “power” in the flesh, in order to receive healing and power bestowed as a gift from on high. Suddenly, I didn’t feel like a mature Christian at all,  rather, I felt like one of the disciples who didn’t count the cost of following Christ;

“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27-33)

Forgiveness, the very basis of Christianity, is a glorious opportunity to understand the weight of the cross.

Could it be that forgiveness, while utterly painful at the beginning, would be the very platform in which I would see the great cost of being a forgiven sinner? Is there a kind of suffering, for the sake of setting someone free their debt, that would usher me into the throne room of grace in a way I would have never otherwise known?

Head in my hands, I couldn’t decide on that porch right then and there, but for reasons of Godly proportions, I was unable to turn away from His Whisper. Who else, but God himself, knows the pain for forgiving an adulterous people? 

 

Grief in the Discovery - Part 6 - The First Laugh

It's that awkward moment of grief, when you feel so full of hopelessness, angry tears flowing, when suddenly something makes you...laugh.

Here's a great example of the grief cycle in a short 2.5 minute clip, taken from one of my favorite movies of all time, "Steal Magnolias".

 

Just look at the expression on Sally Field's face when her crew begins laughing, at her daughter's funeral! That scene still gives me a strange feeling in my belly, and I wonder whether or not I was supposed to be laughing at that moment. While laughing is not a stage in the grieving cycle, the first laugh has to happen eventually, and when it does, it might feel awkward.  

Grief had a way of swallowing me up so deeply in pain, that when I laughed, I questioned whether or not it was appropriate. 

I had only been home for two days, after the two week separation from my husband, when we experienced this awkward moment.  The kids were tucked in bed, and Burris and I had enough arguing and crying for the day, when we turned on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. 

With my husband on one end of the couch and I on the other, we didn't even make it half way through the monologue when Fallon was able to get a chuckle out of us. We made eye contact, and the question came as instant as the flip of a light switch, is it ok to laugh?

A couple of thoughts came to mind in that moment on the couch. First,  I wasn't sure if I was honoring my pain by laughing. That sounds silly, I know, but I couldn't deny that laughing felt good, and I had been feeling so hurt for such a long stretch that it caught me off guard. Second, and perhaps this is where I felt I was dishonoring my pain, I didn't want to communicate to my husband that my laughing meant what he did was "ok". 

It was not ok, but man, did it feel great to laugh.

Those first few times I laughed and played with my husband again, taught me some big lessons; 

  1. Laughing doesn't cancel out grief. It just gives a momentary break. It's a gift. Enjoy it.
  2. When the laughing is over, you might go back into heavy grieving again. Just because you laughed or had a good day, doesn't mean that you should be "over" your grieving. This is where it is imperative to receive the compassion of Jesus for yourself.
  3. Laughing in sorrow is a picture of the hope to come. Jesus says in Luke 6:21 "Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh." Most of us are aware that life here is hard and painful, but for those who are in Christ, there will be a day where there is no more sin and we will laugh in joyful perfection. 

Grief in the discovery will usher us into our first laugh, and may the laughter be like a cup of cold water to a parched soul. Thank God for his kindness in all things funny, even when a part of us feels like it has died. 

Do you have a memory of laughing for the first time in the midst of grief? How did it make you feel?