My mother, sister and I set out on Christmas eve for a four mile run through the hilly country.
Black asphalt beneath the rubber of our soles winds it's way through curves and I hear nothing but the soft rhythmic pounding of our feet. My shoes kick up loose rocks and we pass over a tiny bridge. I hear the gentle stream moving underneath and I think how this is a first for us, how this seems new for the little community of us three women.
My sister and I run together in steady stride for a little ways and then she slows. They both trickle along behind me and I circle back for them. We talk a little about what they've cooked for Christmas eve dinner.
They take another walk break and after a while I grow tired and want to finish up my run. Craving some alone time, I run on ahead and I look up at the sky, watch the treeline of pines along the hills on this country road.
I think of the three of us, how there is so much between us, how we have all hurt one another, how we have demanded too much, and how we've had a hard time sometimes forgiving wrongs.
But somehow, through all of that, God's love redeems.
His love rushes in, a team of mighty stallions and tramples out all the thorny briars of hurt and unforgiveness that would choke out His agape, His heartbeat for us..
As I run, I look up at the sky--all laid out bare expanse of blue banged with massive puffs here and there--and I think how this past year was a year of mourning, a year of ash and sackcloth, a year of being in a dark pit I didn't know the way out of.
In a blinding flash the entire past year's scenes and more all dance through my head--my darling baby I ignored while doing online classes, the many failures as a wife and mother, illness, the doctors, the medicines, having to quit school, seeing my dad lying on a hospital bed with a deep cut in his chest from triple bypass open heart surgery, my baby who was mal-nutritioned now having turned two, the severing loss and grief over a 19-year friendship and the slow road of recovery that God used to redeem it back to Him, trudging my way through writing and learning to heal, the isolation, not being able to attend church normally, all the days of trying to keep my head above water,
the days that the sun felt warm, but too bright, too intrusive on my pale skin and I tried to wrap myself inside in a black sweater like a butterfly in a cocoon, not wanting to come out--
I look up to the sky again, as the road beneath my feet begins to descend downhill, and I see the trees shooting up, the sky reaching further than I can see. I spread my arms wide, hands extended, reaching out--I close my eyes and just run fast, fly down the hill, wind in my hair, welcoming the bright sun on my skin.
And as I fling arms horizontally, the new year flings wide open before me, vertically and horizontally and every way further than I can see and it's a little scary.
My arms stretched out, inviting it, eyes closed, I sense it but I don't give into the fear.
I just trust like a child that my foot will find the next sure footing along my downhill path and that God is redeeming it all--all the past mistakes of this long year of 2011 and all the holes and hard places in relationships, all the times I've been hard against Him--He's redeeming it all and setting it right.
And at the end of my run, I leap, black frees into leaves toward home, and I am just so thankful to Him that I can be fully present to feel this freedom, this moment of redemption.
4 WAYS TO SEE AND MAKE BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS NEW, TO FORGIVE, TO SEE GOD REDEEM:
1. See the offense from the other person's viewpoint. What makes them tick? How is their personality opposite or like mine? How would I respond if I were in their shoes? What paths have they walked in life that might cause them to see the situation differently from me? We all have a story and each of us are made different and sometimes there is no way of knowing why someone behaves the way they do. "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal."--C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
2. See the offense through God's love lens--they are His children too, and He loves them just as much as He loves me. We all walk this pilgrim road together through a strange, weary land. Let us walk hand in hand. With unforgiveness in our hearts, we walk alone.
3. See the offense through Jesus' perfect example. God made himself low and took on the form of a servant and when they spat upon him and ridiculed him, when they beat him until his flesh ripped, when they crucified him he said, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." He walked in humility.
4. See the offense from the shadow of the cross--I look at myself through God’s eyes without the cross and then with the cross. Without the cross, im filthy and deserve hell. Without the cross, so does my friend who walks with me and may unintentionally or intentionally hurt me. With the cross we both are redeemed to God and redeemed back into right relationship with Him and with one another. Only God’s love--the love of the cross--can create such a miracle–cause people who have hurt each other deeply to not only forgive, but to grasp hands and embrace one another in prayer and brotherly and sisterly affection.
#425 how his tender kisses make everything inside of me come alive
#426 a night of laughter, talking, games, and popcorn 'round the table with some of my most precious people--my husband, my sister, and my children
#427 a toast to the New Year at 12:01 with my husband and sister
#428 an exciting church service--casting vision for 2012--much to look forward to
#429 an afternoon of Southern comfort food--chicken and dumplins, turnip greens and black-eye peas--coffee and games with my family on the first day of the New Year
#430 peace--real peace--the kind where Jesus is really the center and there hasn't been any argument between Husband and me in the longest time and i haven't yelled at the kids and the Prince of Peace truly reigns over our days
#431 i am so very, very glad that God exists, that He loves me, that He died for me and has gone to Heaven to prepare a place for me where i will forever be with Him in eternity.
#432 i am so grateful for all the comforts He has given me while i am in this place separated from Him–his Holy Spirit, my husband and children and family and church family.
#433 i am so, so grateful for all He’s done and all He’s given and that life is not meaningless, that im not here just to exist and then die. we have a hope and it is glory.
#434 how when i hug Lorna goodnight very tightly, lean into her, breathe in the scent of her, nuzzle her hair and tell her I love her, she leans back and looks at me, a question in her eyes and wonders aloud softly, "Mama, why do you love us so much?"
#435 how it feels to land in my girls bed as they all snuggle around me with blankets piled high and we settle in to read Stepping Heavenward. how Lorna asks me questions and i get to gently explain spiritual mysteries through a story.
#436 redeemed relationships
Join me at Ann's for more thoughts on gratefulness to God and maybe even begin writing your own list of thanks?....
at L.L.'s place for poetry and quiet reflections?....
and at Jen's...a place you will always be blessed by...