The Lens of Forgiveness

I often speak of life as viewing it through a lens. Because, we do. Sometimes, our lenses are clouded up with despair. Other times, they are full of bright light and joy. For me, the lenses to which we view trauma and relationships can get quite complicated. However, life can change when we view it through the lens of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is something that I’ve always thought I understood. I’ve never been one to carry grudges.  Truth be told, I never really had to face the hardship of truly forgiving someone until I had to come to terms with the grim reality that my illness, which resulted in my hysterectomy, was caused by infection left in my body accidentally by the doctor who performed an appendectomy on me when I was just 2-years-old.  I had carried the notion for over twenty years that it was a medical mistake, but did not get that confirmation until approximately three to four years ago.

I was told by the doctor who performed my hysterectomy that somehow, during my appendectomy, a pocket of the infection was missed, encapsulated itself, and became something similar to a fluid-filled sac.  The bacterium inside the sac was very opportunistic, anaerobic and in the same family as botulism.  

Even though this type of bacterium is commonly known about today, in 1983, I was the second known case of a person having it in the United States.  It protected itself and thrived for many years in my body until, for whatever reason, the sac ruptured.  Perhaps it ruptured because of the heavy weight of something I had carried a week prior on my right hip after exploring my uncle’s farm.  Perhaps not; guess I will never really know for sure.

The summer before my illness, I was healthy, dancing competitively, and gearing up for my 6th grade year.  I did not know that a time-bomb was ticking away in my body.  The doctor who performed my appendectomy nine years earlier never knew either.  He still may not know.

He may not know about how close I came to dying during that fateful time in September of 1983.  He may not know about the spiritual, emotional, financial, and physical toll it took on my parents.  He may not know that my body was never the same again; and, neither was I.  He will never understand what it is like to be the only girl around who never got her first period.  He may not ever know how confused I was during my teenage years, how tormented I felt about what happened, and how I believed I would never find a man who would love me….just me….without the promise of children.

The doctor who performed my appendectomy may never know how the foot-long scar on my belly stared back at me in the mirror, how I regretted that scar, how I wished it away, and how I didn’t want it to show my vulnerability.  He does not know that I never saw myself as a mother, or that I waited until I was almost thirty to get married.  

He never sat next to me while driving away from baby showers with painful tears.  He never had to explain over and over again to medical professionals why I had a hysterectomy at a young age, or pretend to understand pregnancy during conversations.  He didn’t have to hear all of the unwarranted words of wisdom given to me from others regarding my barrenness.

The doctor may not know about the heavy blanket of sorrow I wrapped around myself while weeping in my bed, alone, and away from the world.  He may never know how close I came to fully turning away from the Heavenly Father I believed in as a young child.  He will never hear the prayers I cried to my God for some answers; for just one chance to be a mother.

No, he will never know these things…but…he will also never know how I don’t blame him for what happened.  I don’t harbor ill feelings.  I don’t wish to go back in time and correct his oversight.  There is no need to lash out. I won’t say his name. There is no desire to grieve over my barrenness that was caused by the work of his hands.  I’ve grieved enough.

I have forgiven him.  I know in my heart that he would have never intentionally left this bacteria in my system and that he did the best he could with a very ill toddler whose appendix had ruptured.  Who I am not to forgive him?  Who am I to look at this and think anything different from how I feel?  It was a mistake; pure and simple.

Truthfully speaking, if the mistake had not happened, I would have grown into adolescence and adulthood, never comprehending the beauty that comes out of struggles. Joy comes when being encountered with the revelation of the Lord’s penmanship in life.  Would I have ever sought to become a foster parent, experienced the humbling path of loving another mother’s child, or discovered faith while declaring my children’s names to the Lord in prayer for their safety and for His will to be done? I’m not sure.

I don’t know if I would have ever grasped the full measure of just how vulnerable I am without the presence of a Living God in my life.  If I had not experienced the darkness of the valley I’ve walked through, I’m not sure that I would be able to completely comprehend that forgiveness doesn’t come from my own ability.  It comes from the grace and forgiveness that was first given to me.  I don’t blame the doctor who left the life-changing infection in my body.  I have no feelings for him that would cause one to question if I am capable of forgiving someone.

No, I don’t blame the doctor, I forgive him.  If I would have clung onto the knowledge of this mistake and allowed it to blur my vision, I don’t know how my story would be written.  My life story that I view through the lens of forgiveness is one of pain, but also of promise.

Forgiveness is cleansing.  It leaps, dances, and embraces.  It grabs a hold of one’s heart, tears out the pain, and flies off with it.  Forgiveness wipes off the lens that life is viewed through, and it retells the story of life without the aftertaste of bitterness left behind in life’s tragedies.

The Lord sees us through the lens of forgiveness. Surely, we can see each other through it as well.

Forgiveness is a mightily freeing thing.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. -Ephesians 4:32

Friends, Is there someone you need to forgive?  Are you at a place where you feel stuck in past transgressions?  Go to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him to help you forgive.  Unleash what is pulling at you. Let it fly away, and forgive.  May God bless you.

 

 

Forgiven

The picture on the right is of a ring I wear nearly every day.  Besides my wedding ring and a necklace with the names of my children engraved on it, this ring is about the only consistent piece of jewelry I wear.  The word forgiven is engraved into the ring and serves as a gentle reminder to me that nothing else matters really except for the forgiveness and life I have in Christ.

On the inside of the ring, Eph. 1:7 is engraved.

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.  Ephesians 1:7

Sometimes, I think about things I have done in the past and the struggle even now to live a life that models Christ to others.  I get caught up in wondering whether or not I’m “good enough” for the Lord.  Truthfully, I’m not good enough for Him.  No one is.

Often, my human desires get in the way of keeping my eyes, mind, and heart focused on Heavenly intentions.  I set goals that will enhance my walk with the Lord, but then fall short of completing them.  I get up every day saying and praying that I would act in ways pleasing to Him and that the love of Christ would show through my actions.  Then….life happens.  I get upset about something, or make a snap judgement about a situation, or not offer the same amount of grace that the Lord has given me over and over again, and that feeling of failing the Lord sinks in.

During these moments, I look down at my ring and see FORGIVEN.  It serves as a quiet reminder to me that He has already chosen His grace over my flaws.  He loves me despite all the messes I have made and will make until the day my eyes look upon Him.  I am already forgiven for things of the past and the times I acted as if I did not know Him.  Nothing will change the mighty forgiveness of the Lord.

His love is unfailing, His blood is redeeming, His mercy is miraculous, and His forgiveness is forever.

Dear Infertility

Dear Infertility,

Hello, it’s me again. You know…the little girl you once made to feel inadequate, the teenager you once strived to isolate, and the adult you almost accomplished stealing joy from. Well, I’m here to tell you what you cannot do.

You cannot diminish moments of laughter that echo in my mind for days following. You won’t determine my capacity to love other people and children. You no longer make me feel less of a female or parent or anything else you once tried to convince me of.

You don’t stalk me like you used to. I don’t think of you when I see babies anymore. I actually enjoy going to baby showers now. You used to tag along uninvited just to make me feel uncomfortable.  You are not invited, anymore.

You no longer cause a wedge between me and the loving Father I believe in. You used to do that, you know. I used you as an excuse to not listen to Him. He is bigger than you will ever be.  He reminds me what His plans are for my life, not yours.

You cannot take away forgiveness. You do not replace hope. You obviously offer very little grace, but I do not look to you for it anyway.

For the most part, you were one of my darkest secrets. I hid you away for so long.  Funny thing now is that I’m exposing you to the world. You have become my motivation to write, to reach out, and to love.

At one time, I was incomplete. You filled an ever-growing void with even more sorrow, but not anymore. I will never use you again as a way to justify my lack of purpose or meaning in this life.

Dear infertility…this is not goodbye. I can still use you to be a more passionate person. I can still reminisce of you as a reminder to try and love my children more each day than I did the day before. I see you trying to pull others down and I recognize you right away. I use this as motivation for being a more genuine and empathetic listener. The tears I cry now are not for me, but for those of whom you are trying to take over.

Dear infertility…you have not stolen my ability to have a bountiful life. I have a full, rich life that involves children despite your attempt at taking that away. My life is no longer barren. You did not create a wasteland in me. Oh, I won’t forget you. How can I really? You have traveled with me the vast majority of my life, but you are not my life. Ironically, you have caused me to view life as being precious.

Dear infertility…this is not goodbye. This is me saying hello to all the things that you will never be.

my scar, His Scars

Hey, scar on my belly, you do not represent me.  A doctor called you a “horror show” one time, but his words do not describe me.  You are long and just plain ugly, but you do not characterize me.

You are a visual reminder of the war waged on me in my youth, but you do not represent me.  You are simply flesh ripped apart and sewn back together by human hands.  You depict a battle for my life, but I won. You are just one part of my infertility, but not the most important.

You have been with me nearly as long as I can remember, but you do not define me.  I have been embarrassed of you.  I have wished you away.  You have reminded me of all of the pain I have been through, but you do not speak for me.

Your outward appearance does not hint to the inward conflict that has taken place physically, spiritually, and emotionally through the years.  You do not speak, you do not breathe, and you do not love.  You are just a symbol of a fateful moment in time long ago; a physical remnant of my life-changing event.

Hey, scars on His wrist, you represent me.  Hey, wounds on His feet, you are because of me.  The pain inflicted on Him should have been mine.  He was scoffed at, called names, and torn apart by a battle not of His own. I have wished Him away, not trusted Him, and raged at Him; but still, His heart welcomes me.

Hey, scars on His wrist, you embody the physical, emotional, and spiritual freeing of me.  His scars delineate a world not deserving of His grace.  The ugliness of His death portrays the beauty of His forgiveness.  His wounds speak of great passion, and His pain screams mercy.

He is the past, present, and future.  He is the most important moment in time.  His words were of compassion, and His breath of love.

His Love,

His Life,

His Scars,

His Sacrifice,

His Forgiveness,

His Resurrection,

my gain.