By Dale Pratt
Yesterday I received one of those calls I don’t like: “Pastor, we’re here at the hospital and it’s not looking good. We could be losing her.”
By the time I get to the hospital, there’s a small group of family and friends gathered and it’s time to listen as the doctor tells us what the medical team has determined; indeed, we’re losing her. Only a miracle from God can turn this around. What can we do? Wait. So we wait, we pray, and before the evening is over, we’ve said goodbye, hugged a lot, cried a lot, and now we contemplate how we’ll face life without an individual who filled so many individual roles with many different individuals.
And, when this moment came, none of us could alter the outcome of the moment . . . none of us were in control. The doctors did their best. We prayed…and God took her home, where we all belong.
The question that’s been on my mind these past few weeks is in how we can simply release these moments that we don’t understand, and the people in those moments, who act or live or speak in ways we don’t understand – which usually means we don’t approve of whatever they are saying or doing at the moment. How do I release them? How do I let it go? How do I continue to live my life in such a way that I’m not continually feeling the pain of disappointment, or failure, or unfulfilled expectation? After all, the blame-game we play is nothing other than these feelings we have deep within our own person and has almost nothing to do with what someone else is either doing or not doing – and I don’t like it!
Why? Because if that’s so – that it has mostly to do with me – it means I have to do the changing and I don‘t want to have to change. I want it to be your fault and for you to change.
What if I have to make some changes? What if I carry more liability in this than I want to own? What can I do now?
As we stood by the bed in the hospital, waiting for a friend to pass across to the other side, it appeared she could have made some other health decisions in the past 20 years that would have allowed her to live a bit longer and more comfortably. A bunch of us other folks could have had a better time of it in the process, too.
I had to ask myself if I can forgive her – can I forgive her? For what? For disappointing me like that? For not living up to my expectations…living longer? For scaring me like that and causing the pain I endured as I watched her slowly pass across…into the presence of the almighty…and, she left us here to grieve and clean up the mess, and to have to wait a little longer before we get to slip through the crack in time and move on into eternity on the other side? It’s not fair! I do get that. Get over it. That’s the difficult part. So, can I forgive her? Yes. Here’s the process that’s been playing with questions in my mind and the process goes like this: confess, repent, forgive.
Simply put, confession is acknowledgement and agreement with my part – yep, this is mine. I carry this. I’m hurt and angry and your situation only gives me the opportunity to feel pain; I respond in anger and I choose to allow that anger to stay and eventually grow into bitterness – I choose!
Repentance is simply a change of mind or thinking process which results in a change of direction. So I can choose to feel the pain, release the anger and allow my soul to grow peaceful and gentle and find comfort in the warmth of these memories I hold – I choose!
Forgiveness is simply to release from liability – I choose that I won’t make you pay for disappointing me. I release you from that liability of causing me to feel pain. I won’t keep blaming you. I will feel the pain, know it’s just because I love you and I’ll keep going and loving others, even as I know that they’ll bring pain into my life as well. Love works like that.
“I agree that your actions are not what I wanted, and my disappointments are mine. I forgive you for making choices I don’t approve of, and I choose to love you even when your choices are not what I would choose or prefer, and I won’t make you pay for my disappointments. Goodbye. Live well. May our Father take good care of you…and may you open your heart and let Him.”
This process is a life process which I choose to live in; not easy, but very, very productive and peaceful. Welcome to my world.
Pastor Dale Pratt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.