From 2003 until 2005 I experienced things in ministry that no vocational pastor should ever have to go through. If you know me, then you know the details but I will not go into them here and now. One missionary featured on "Focus on the Family" told me "you have experienced more in 2 years than most pastors experience in a lifetime." I will dive into these topics when I am asked to be a speaker at an event to address abuses in the church but that is the extent of it these days. There is a good possibility I will be a speaker at another Christian festival this summer. I will know more in weeks to come. Anyway, these events left me hurt and bitter. So many times I would keep rehashing these old stories as many people could relate. Sadly the retelling of these stories kept taking me back to the days when things began to unravel which stirred up more disgust.
It was not until this year that I really began to let the past go. Isn’t it amazing how long it can take to get over some hurts from our past? I used to be amazed growing up in church at the old people that could hold onto a grudge for years. Some would call this “Irish Alzheimer's”...you forget everything but a grudge. Looking at my life and reflecting back on those that held grudges for years, I soon began to realize I was that person and something had to be done. Perhaps there were other factors playing into my decision as the onset of 2013 has brought with it some health challenges. Some of them have downright made me quite stressed and worried. More on that another time. When faced with health challenges and have the harsh reality that another decade is about to pass, I began to think about the frailty and beauty of life. More and more I came to the conclusion that I need to let things go, find forgiveness and do my best to live in peace. That’s just what I am doing.
About a month ago I began to compile a list of people that I have burned bridges with or that have hurt me. It was a good size list due to the nature of these incidences. It was after I experienced the ugly side of church politics that I turned myself into the victim. So I wrote a letter forgiving those I felt have hurt me and asking for forgiveness as well. I decided to own the fact I acted in a less than flattering way and now must own up to it. It was so encouraging to get responses back immediately. Anytime you put your neck out on the line, you never know what to expect. Even the pastor that called me out by name in Milwaukee during his message wrote back a very encouraging response. There have been some I never did hear back from from my attempt at this over a year ago. One person wrote back to me stating I am forgiven but am still a wolf. I am thankful for the note none the less.
It really is springtime in my life and I will never forget 2013. It almost should be a pre-requisite in friendships that apologies should be offered right away. Why? Because you will let each other down. I suppose immaturity would say just run and find a new friend. However there is something to looking past the faults as well because just when you are ready to point out the fault in a person....I know for me and perhaps you...there are many faults we have as well. So we continue on in life realizing none of us are perfect but that is what makes a friendship so exciting. I really am thankful that I have been able to move past these hurts and wow...the freedom I am experiencing in my life is so rewarding.