Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who do I have the toughest time forgiving of all?
When I first began learning scripture, I was amazed at how many phrases I recognized but had no idea that the original source was the Bible. This one (see above) from Matthew's Gospel, actually made my laugh at the irony. It came at a time I was very much wrestling with my self esteem and worth. It would not be an exaggeration to say, I disliked mostly everything about myself and spent a great amount of time feeling embarrassed, inadequate and unworthy of love. I definitely treated people in the same way I treated myself - judgmental, cynical and with very little mercy. There was no seeing my way to Jesus' command in Luke's Gospel (also see above) because I was still so rooted in disdain of myself.
At the core of this behavior was blaming myself for many things from my past - most of which I actually was not guilty but in my young mind had processed it that way. For example, my mother once told me I was born to "save their marriage', since they had recently divorced, I automatically concluded that I had failed at my intended mission in life.
I always felt that somehow my behavior or words had caused certain situations I found myself in, and I would spend countless hours replaying 'tapes' of these situations trying to figure out how I could fix things. Problem was, most were not my brokenness to fix - and that which WAS MINE I was unwilling to recognize or part with. It is funny how comfy we get with our feelings, even if they are toxic to us, perhaps the familiarity of them keeps us attached. They may be harsh and burdensome, but they're mine and the fear of the unknown, should I let them go, often felt far too scary to venture down that path.
Amazingly, I would forgive readily those who hurt me, struggling if someone was angry or disliked me. I used to admit, if I went to a party and there were 100 people there and 99 of them thought I was great but I found 1 that disliked me; I would spend the entire party trying to win over that one person. If I was able to change their perspective or opinion about me, then the rest of the week I would kick myself for failing and wallow in all the things I thought they saw wrong with me.
I am fairly sure I AM not the only person to do this. Fairly sure.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32
My life was spiraling into a deep depression - my children were being born which should have brought me great pride and joy, but I was a mess emotionally. Maybe part of it was postpartum, but more of it was this discontent toward myself that I refused to part with. I had yet to realize the gift of God's grace and mercy - no instead I just throw fantastic pity parties and cried myself to sleep most nights. How could someone as wretched as me possibly be any good as a mother. How could anyone possibly want to be my real friend, when I was so lousy at thinking of others before myself. Finally, I was pretty much convinced in the impossibility of God loving me -- I figured I was just one move away from being smote on the spot. A lightning bolt from heaven and leaving me a pile of ash and soot.
Until I read St. Paul's words in Ephesians. This invitation will it does most definitely speaks of how I should treat others, suddenly illustrated what was missing towards myself. These were the behaviors I displayed toward myself - I was bitter at my past circumstances for which although I had no control, felt I should have prevented. There was so much rage, anger and harsh words that I hurled and felt at myself - there was no knowledge or thought of self-injurious behaviors as so many suffer with today, but I did punish myself mentally and then tried to medicate with overeating, overspending and bragging to cover up my insecurities. Never, did I treat myself tenderly or kindheartedly. How could Jesus' forgiveness possibly be affected by my forgiveness - I did not see the connection, but the Holy Spirit was about to change that!
All Rights Reserved Allison Gingras, 2015