A few days ago I wrote a post about the passing of someone I used to know.
A friend of ours, Dan, asked Stephen the day I posted it if it was weird writing about personal stuff here on the website with so many loltreckers and toilet fixers stopping by. Stephen and I talked about it on Thursday night at dinner and the answer to that is no. Here’s why.
I debated about writing that particular post at all. I wanted to write down a couple of the good memories that I had of him even though I still had some unresolved feelings about him. My own memorial, I guess. I talked to LanaBob! on Friday and she reminded me of several other things that I had actually forgotten. She remembers them because she and I were just becoming friends when my mom and this man were dating. So it was good to chat with her about it and be reminded that relationships are complex and not always resolved in neat little packages when someone dies, and that there isn’t always a chance to say “Goodbye” or “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you”.
But I also wanted for people to know that I struggle with stuff even though I am a Christian. The feelings and thoughts that I had as a non-Christian didn’t just disappear when I became a Christian. This is a big deal to me because I spent a lot of years pretending that I didn’t have those non-Christian thoughts and feelings. I really thought that I could personally will away all my bad feelings toward others and, by strength of will, forgive. It doesn’t work that way.
All these changes take prayer. A lot of it, and remarkably enough, it’s not necessarily prayer for God to change me. (Some of them are and those never hurt.) A lot of the prayers are about getting outside of myself and praying for the other person. No, it’s not prayer that they change either. Wouldn’t it be great if it worked that way, though? It’s prayer for their wellbeing and their spiritual growth and their safekeeping and it can’t be out of spite. It has to be prayed with gratitude for my own forgiveness. Something happens when I am praying good things for someone I have a hard time forgiving. I start seeing them through God’s eyes and gradually I can, maybe not forget what happened, but start putting it behind me.
This is the part that I didn’t talk about it that post. I hadn’t been doing that for him. I had been nursing my anger at him and carrying it around because I felt foolish for trusting him again. Forgiveness isn’t something we do for others, it’s something that we do that builds character in us. It’s about God teaching us about his forgiveness of us. So I’ll be working on that now. It seems pretty silly to be angry at a dead person. I’m guessing I’m going to have to let this stuff go.
Talking about what’s real for me so people can see it is why I post the personal (uncomfortable) stuff here. It lets people know me better and it keeps me honest. (And I didn’t do a good job with that in that post because I didn’t want to talk openly about forgiveness.) It is my personal journal made public. I owe a lot of my desire to do that to Heather Armstrong. She is a master of telling her story with humor and grace. I wish I were half so competent but I’m much too serious and have a hard time finding the funny sometimes. And writing these things here remind me that I have an internal life that doesn’t involve my kids. It’s pretty easy to get subsumed in the mommy lifestyle. Stephen and I also talked about what we would post and our rule is to never post anything we would mind our mothers reading. And isn’t that just a good rule for living life in general?
So there is your answer, Dan. It was probably way longer than you wanted to read but I’m glad that you asked the question and that I heard it second-hand because it made me finish my thinking on the topic. Thanks.