It was the 24th of last month and after all the Christmas gifts had been wrapped and placed under the tree, my husband and I finally went to bed, and as all good parents do, it was much later than we intended on Christmas Eve.
I turned over and faced him on the pillows.
“I’m still working through some anger,” I told him.
I’d seen an Internet scuffle earlier in the week between my husband and some people we used to be friends with from a previous church. They’d been less than kind to him in a public forum and I’d been surprised by how much it had hurt me: the words that were used, the animosity, the assumptions. Oh, the wretched assumptions. Now it seemed as if the years of working with these people had been wasted.
He said, “I know you are. It’s okay.”
“I know it’s something I have to work through on my own. I can’t let this anger rule me, can I?”
“No, you can’t.”
What I had wanted to do was to somehow protect myself, ourselves, from that kind of hurt. What I wanted to do was stay angry because staying angry scratches a dreadful itch that needs scratched. What I wanted to do give back the words that had been given and never interact with anyone again.
“What to do? Maybe I should unfriend everyone on Facebook? Blacklist the whole group?”
“What good would that do, Sarah?”
“Nothing, I suppose,” I said. But it would sure make me feel better, I thought.
The simple fact is this: as much grace as I expect from others I must extend to others as well. And if I ever expect grace and love from them, then I should give it.
In fact, maybe I get the privilege of being the first to give it.
John Steinbeck wrote that “there are as many worlds as there are kinds of days, and as an opal changes its colors and its fire to match the nature of a day, so do I.”
Anger binds me. Regret binds me. And so does bitterness, and even hurt held on to for long periods of time. And I do not want to be bound.
I can change my heart and re-direct my emotions with grace just like Steinbeck’s opal. Fire, autumn, winter, ice. I can move with grace and with the heart of the Father and I do not have to be bound. His love unbinds and his grace frees, so no, I don’t have to be chained by bitterness.
We are fluid people. We are moveable and viscous and there isn’t room for a “black list” in that.
Does it still hurt? Absolutely. Are the ill-fated words of another excusable? Not at all.
But the only thing I want to be “bound” by in this new year is His grace.