Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Beautiful, the mess we are....

This morning I drove home from dropping the kids off at school and listened to a new song on the radio. I had not heard it before but it hit me like a ton of bricks. I'll get to that in a minute.

Let me rewind a bit...
A few years ago, the Christian singer Amy Grant walked out on her family. She left for another man, Vince Gill. I was devastated that this woman of great faith would do that. She had represented so many things for me as a little girl. My older sister had a few of her tapes (back in the old day, we didn't have CDs youngsters!) and I remember listening to "Sing Your Praise to the Lord" over & over & over. The instrumental parts to that song blew me away...and still do. But when she left her family for another man, I was shocked. It knocked the breath out of me & left me so discouraged. Somehow, much of the rest of the Christian music world seemed (at least to me) to not blink over it. She was out of the music industry for a short time, but then started producing records again. WHAT? How could I ever listen to her again & get the same blessing from it? I was looking at her through a whole different pair of eyes...the eyes that saw her flaw & her sin and just couldn't let it go. I've never quite gotten over that, I guess.

Fast forward...
On the eve of Andrew & Kourtney's departure from our home, I was a mess. A glorious, ugly mama cry sort of mess. I was hurting and so very brutally vulnerable. I was horrified about the choices we were having to make, the way this might affect A&K later on down the road, how hard it would be for them. And then it happened. A girlfriend of mine sent me an email that shook me to the core. She told me that she didn't feel the least bit sorry for me. She told me that we were adding to A&K's traumatic childhood & I should be ashamed of myself for (in her words) "kicking them out". The blow of reading that email was like a kick in the stomach when I was already curled in a ball on the floor. I was devastated. The timing was horrible. If I'd read the same words 2 months later, I probably would've handled it better, but in that moment, I was crushed by a person who I thought was a dear friend. I tried to defend our choice that night & explain to her what was going on, but ultimately that conversation destroyed our friendship & we've barely spoken since.

It's been 3 years since the kids moved out. Up until very recently, any time that particular girlfriend's name came up, I felt it all over again -- the pain & hurt she caused. I wasn't so much ANGRY as I was just hurt. She & I tried to work things out about a year ago, but the conversation was very emotional & our words became daggers very quickly. I had to just walk away & say "nevermind". The truth is, the wound had never really fully healed & talking to her about the whole thing just tugged at the perimeter of those scars til the whole thing came open again & the pain spilled out.

But no matter how many times I've mentally or verbally forgiven her for the hurt she caused, I've never told HER that I have forgiven her. I've heard sermon after sermon & read umpteen devotional book entries about forgiveness in the 3 years that have passed. Every single time without fail, her name comes to mind. Not because I haven't forgiven her, but because God has nudged me to seek her out & tell her that all is forgiven & it's time to move on. I think the truth of the matter is that I know, in the pit of my stomach, if I forgive her & say "let's try this friendship thing again", I'm opening myself up to her. And opening myself up to her again is allowing her a chance to hurt me all over again.

In praying about this recently, I told God that. Father, I am afraid. I don't want to be hurt again. I know that what she said that night was said out of ignorance to the situation. She didn't full grasp what was going on. I think her motives were pure---she was trying to make me see something that she didn't think I'd thought through....but it hurt like hell, Lord. If I try to make good with her now, she may hurt me all over again and I'm just not ready for that.

You know what He said to me?
Beloved, how do you think I feel? I forgive you day after day, time & time again...and you hurt me over & over. But I open myself up to you completely each time you come to me and I forgive you knowing that you'll hurt me again.

Yeah, I know. Talk about a knife to the heart. Ouch. I get it.

I tried to seek out my girlfriend a couple weeks ago but I can't get my hands on her mailing address. I don't have an email for her anymore. Her phone number was long since removed from my phone book. I really don't have a way to tell her that I forgive her....but somehow, in reaching that place, God's released me from the bondage of carrying around that burden. Just coming to a point of being WILLING to say "I was wrong to hold onto this for so long" has been so freeing.

I forgive you, M. I hate that things got so ugly between us. I was hurt and I didn't know how to let go of that for a long, long time. But I'm ready to forget the past & move on.

This morning, as I drove home, I heard this beautiful song on the radio. The video & lyrics are below. It was such a good song. It ministered to my heart and left me singing along with raised hands in my front yard. And ya know what?

Amy Grant is the singer.

Looks like it's time for me to let go of another hurt & forgive her & move on. If Jesus can, why can't I?

The lyrics:
God loves a lullaby
In a mothers tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.
God loves the drunkards cry,
The soldiers plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah.

The woman holding on for life,
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
The tears of shame for what's been done,
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

Better than a church bell ringing,
Better than a choir singing out, singing out.


Living the G life! said...

WOW! That is good stuff!! Ouch is so right! I read this and got a few "boo boos" of my own. Thanks for sharing Liz, you never cease to be a great friend and role model! Love you!

Lisa@BlessedwithGrace said...

Thank you for sharing your heart.

Here is what I took from this:

When you saw Amy Grant, you saw her sin and from the outside what you thought was going on in her life and home. But, I have learned- we never know what is actually going on behind closed doors and in a marriage/ home. So, to the outside world, we feel very strong about Amy Grant's actions. I agree it seems so wrong what she did. But, we truly have no idea what was going on behind closed doors, in her home. We just don't. So we can't judge.

In the same manner, your friend, M, had no right to judge the actions of you and Larry. When you decided the children needed a new home and out of your house, the only people who could make that decision and truly understand what was going on in your house, was you. No one else had the right to judge your actions in that situation. No one else could understand the pain and devastation you and your family were experiencing. None of us.

I learned this lesson when my twin sister left her husband, in her first marriage. Most people had no idea what was going on behind closed doors. I did not even know, for many years. She tried to make the marriage work - but he was addicted to pornography. He was committing adultery on a daily basis. I was confronted by several of my "christian" friends who told me my sister was wrong for leaving the marriage. They voiced their judgment and accusations without ever knowing the pain, hurt, and betrayal she experienced for years. Would she have rather stayed in the marriage and experienced restoration. Yes, did it happen. No. Her husband was unwilling to seek counseling, to attend church, to be delivered from his addiction.

We can never judge, especially in these situations. We just don't know the whole story. I think so many Christians are guilty of this very thing.

Instead of loving each other through devastating situations, we share our "opinions", which cut to the bone. I cannot imagine how hurtful those words were to you, when your whole world was crashing in on you. I am sorry you experienced that judgment and self-righteousness from a "friend".

I am glad you were able to find a way to forgive. Maybe someday God will restore that friendship. But, I have learned, sometimes the more important thing is the forgiveness. You may never have that relationship back with that person. But, your relationship with God has been strengthened because of the process.

I just love you, Liz. I love that you share these tough moments with us all, so we can learn from them and grow, just as you have.


(Okay that was a little wordy. Sorry.)

Lisa@BlessedwithGrace said...

One other BIG thing I meant to say. I felt exactly like you, when Amy Grant left her husband. I felt so sorry for Gary Chapman and did not want to listen to Amy Grant OR Vince Gill on the radio for a long time!
It was not until later, in my life, that I learned the lesson about forgiveness and judgment, and I continue to learn it everyday, realizing we are not called to judge and condemn. That is for God. We are to love and forgive.
Thanks again, Liz.

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amanda said...

Wow, good for you. And great post. Thanks for sharing. I know we have all been there in some way before.

Susie said...


You wanna talk about a God-ordained moment.

I needed to read this today.

I said last night to one of our elders, "I spend most of my day irrate with X. I'm angry *most* of the time. I live in a lot of bitterness, and I know that's not good, but that's just the way it is!"

Ouch. Not good. I need to get out of where I am. I need to forgive. It's very difficult to forgive, especially since it's a choice that I have to make every 30 seconds or so ... but I'm committed to it.

Love you!