|May There Be Springs In My Desert|
Pretty sure it was Nancy Leigh DeMoss whose interview on Family Life Today radio finally started my recovery ball rolling.
It was a typical weekday morning, immersed in my 1.5 hrs of Christian radio tuned to FLT, Focus on the Family, and more recently, My Family Talk, hoping against hope that something might stick to my needy, doubting soul. I know that actually reading and meditating on scripture every morning is the preferred means by which saved sinners experience sanctification, a discipline others seem to excel at;
but it has never won me much. Dyslexic? Yes. Floaters in one eye? Big ones. Hard to breath? Asthma makes it hard to sit still, so I like to keep moving.
No, reading is not my strong suit. Tried Bible On Tape, but the readers were Monotone. Or overly eager actors with bad British accents.
So this female speaker-whomever-she-was, Nancy L. DeM or someone else, recounted her discipline of praying daily forgiveness toward her offenders. This took me aback like a rear-ender spawns whiplash. It produced a shocking thought: there's someone else who gets offended nearly every day, too?
It was relief to my soul to hear that I was not the only one on the planet collecting offenses and feeling miserable about it. Now, I'm sure she doesn't go around pissing people off the way I seem to, yet, imagine someone godly enough to be invited onto the "Dennis and Bob Show" (FLT-Rainey/Lapine) who yet admits to bitterness and pain from flawed people.
She recounted how she and her husband would kneel together each night, and one by one, confess any bitterness over each offense and --here's the kicker-- release the offender.
Just release them, as in Forgive. And then go on. A one-and-done, systematic and clinical.
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Used to praying with my husband most nights, it would be simple enough to try this practice out, but praying THIS deeply would be a challenge. Our prayers had obviously been pretty shallow up to that point.
I tried it a few times, but it became so obvious that I was nursing my wounds rather than releasing them. Mostly I'd just cry. Good old husband of mine. He just listens and endures my female tendancy to enjoy bitterness.
(It was slightly maddening that, in the years following, he would barely remember my litanies of pain if one came up later. He is too much a genius at forgetting.
Why don't men luxuriate in bitterness? Is resentment a female-only trait?)
It "hit me" last week, the reason why his premarital moral shortcomings were a non-issue with him, while mine have plagued and provoked these long 30 years. He was prayed over by and with his former college pastor and all his brother buddies in the days leading up to our pregnant wedding. They formed a man-circle and held a man-confessional. And never thought about it again. Now there's a one-and-done.
He sort of forgot that his besmirched girlfriend might benefit from a similar cleansing. Oh, there's another post for yet another, other, other day...
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Back to more recent female choke holds.
Since one particular resentment went deeper than the rest, I made the name of the perpetrator into a computer-desktop password, and each time I'd turn on the computer I'd type it in, praying for her, letter by letter-by-slowly-plunked-out letter.
In a few years, the bile subsided and she was no longer the boogieman. Galatians 6* began to make sense. It says I create my own destruction by withholding forgiveness. What I sow to my flesh in un-forgiveness, I reap to my flesh in self loathing and constant complaining; all the while making myself into my own version of a demigod, meting out my own justice (bile) rather than leaving it in God's hands where it belongs.
By now, too, my girls were in prayer for me. Adult children are such a boon.
The part that is kind of a stretch is the part where I'm called to replace a snub from a "sister in Christ" with an appropriate, biblically KIND thought. The Beth Moore Breaking Free Bible Study came in handy here. The daughters went through it about the same time I did.
Apparently, those of us who take snubs to heart are the ones who do not have a grasp of who we are in Christ: we are supposed to see ourselves as his Beloved, His Precious Ones. . . Those thoughts are more given to those from the Selfie generation. I do not take Selfies. I do not think of myself as God's gift to the world. Beth Moore would have quite a time with me.
Then there are the "Pastor Blobs" of my fundamentalist past, who have driven jet black opinions deeply downward in indelible ink, their poison ever creeping though the crevasses of my already crumpled, paper thin soul and psyche, tainting me as a . . .
.Jezebel, whore, non-Christian, unforgivable piece of "...."
I've sought counseling some twenty times.
At last count, we'd spent thousands on introductory $essions with various attempted "therapists," yet n'one was ever good enough to match my TV-brained expectations of professional brilliance: I wanted a morph of every Hollywood portrayal of Anti-Freudian perfection: Sybil's Dr. Wilber (Joanne Woodward); The Kid, Russ Duritz' Dr. Alexander (Dana Ivey); Good Will Hunting's Sean Maguire (Robin Williams!); and Conrad Jarrett's Dr. Berger (Judd Hirsch! in Ordinary People).
I've stopped looking.
By God's grace and the gift of a patient husband, I am slowly climbing a forgiveness ladder toward reality. We still pray together semi-daily. I am trying to oil paint again. We have settled into a church after two years of rest from Sunday Sparring. There are two Celebrate Recovery groups in town. I walk 3 miles 2x/week. . .
. . . And, a most important development,
I've switched from an asthma med that may have been a major culprit behind my spiraling copelessness these past ten+ years: If you know anyone using a daily inhaler for their COPD, especially children**, ask them if they're on Q-Var, and if so, to carefully read the RX insert.)
Life ( deep, slightly congested breath) really can be good again. If a little wheezy.
Sad to leave Q-Var behind. It really did the best job.
* my main motivation to forgive is obviously selfish here. I'll master Colossians 3:13 later.
** In 2013 I noticed a disclaimer had been added to the insert stating "...anecdotal reports from parents state children using this inhaler have experienced psychotic events such as depression, suicidal ideation and..."
I'm on Pro-Air now. And the fog is lifting. Slowly.