Like a wide eyed child with a bewildered smile on her face, her words rang out crystal clear. Three or four coherent words strung together are about her limit now, after that, it's just jumbled syllables. Disease deteriorates her brain and slowly steels away bits of her: her memory, her personality, her language, her mobility, her sanity and some day, her very breath. Sitting with her at the table surrounded by others of sound minds, if not sound bodies, her words shot an arrow right to my heart.
"I've been sick, mom...you know I still work...and I'm really busy with the kids..."
My words sounded hollow.
She continued with her strange little smile, not really registering much except the fact that people she knew and a son she loved were close.
Where had I been? All the reasons I mentioned were true and valid reasons for not visiting her often. But I knew a deeper truth.
"What takes more faith...to tell the mountain to move or to forgive?" (Mark 11)
Pastor K's question not only helped me understand some words of Christ that I've never fully understood, but also cut through all the crap and excuses to the heart of some of my biggest obstacles to loving people. It's hard for me to forgive. I remember and hold on to hurts, allowing them to fester. I don't let people off the hook for real or perceived wrongs. Moving a mountain does feel easier than forgiving.
We've all been hurt...by parents, siblings, spouses, in-laws, friends, co-workers and even strangers. Hurt deeply. Sometimes wounded to the core of our being.
Grace. Mercy. Forgiveness. Love. All wonderful words and concepts. But living out forgiveness or mercy or grace to someone who's hurt you is more than difficult; it's painful. It requires letting go of your role as judge and jury and having faith that God will not only take care of you, but them as well.
The Bible tells us God is a God of judgement. But, we know He's also the originator of Grace and Mercy, and Forgiveness. And through His son, Jesus, we and the people who've wronged us, can be forgiven and we can have the freedom to forgive.
Personally, I've got a long way to go.
Something to think about during this Holy Week.