Because of that, I am still stuck on the introduction. I'll probably be there for a month! But I have to tell myself that is okay. I am one of those types of people who loves to make lists. And I love even more to mark things off of my list. I guess it gives me a some sense of control and accomplishment. But I don't want to add this study to my to-do list. I want it to BE my to-do list. I want my life to be about this one thing. I know that may sound extreme, but really I am a control freak who needs to let go.
One thing Sunny said in the introduction was to pray for the Holy Spirit's pruning in your life. But you know, I am like just about every other American Christian I know. I like to be comfortable. It doesn't feel good to go deeper because most of the time I don't like what is there and it hurts. I mean, really, really hurts.
My childhood was not the happiest of childhoods and I had huge resentment issues with my parents. I ran away from home on several occasions, was kicked out on probably even more occasions, lived with my grandparents for a time and on and on. It was rocky to say the least. But all of that led me to run away for good when I went to college. I just wanted to get away, far away. Little did I know it was that very decision that would bring me back home.
While at college I became a Christian after reading a required reading assignment from one of my classes. The reading assignment was Ephesians. You can read more about it here. But when I became a Christian I made a deal with God. No, actually it was more than that. I told God what I was NOT going to do. I told Him I was not going to forgive my father. Well, I bet you can guess what God thought of me telling Him what I was going to do (there's that control thing again, rearing it's ugly head).
Little by little, God began to work on my heart. He began to show me who my father was, where he had come from, the hurts he had endured. He opened my heart and eyes to the fact that he was just a single dad trying to do right by me the best way he knew how. Yes, those hurts I experienced were very real, but God took the sting away. And after a couple of years, I finally let all of that go. I mean I really let it go. Sometimes I share things with people if it gives them hope, but the hurt is just not there anymore.
I share all of this to tell another story. Even though I had forgiven my dad we still fought like crazy when we were together. It is true, we just don't see eye to eye on a lot of things. I had just come to the conclusion that I would have to keep putting my heart out there and keep forgiving. I really felt that was what God was asking me to do.
A couple of summers ago my dad and I got into this huge fight. He was here in town and I stormed out, (I am good at running away) taking my kids with me. Rick stayed behind to try to talk to my dad. He was defending me. As I stood outside of the door to my grandparent's house listening to them talk my dad had some not very kind words to say about me to my husband. Oh my, did those words sting. My dad said I was using my kids against him by taking them away and that I was being manipulative. He said he feared for my marriage because of the way I acted sometimes. You know why those words were so incredibly hurtful? Because they were true.
It took me all of about five minutes after we left to realize it and to say to Rick, "I can't just let this go." You see, I come from a family of yellers and I am a reformed yeller myself. It was amazing to me when I met Rick and his family that they didn't scream at each other. He helped to see something better. But my family would fight and scream and yell daily, and then act as if nothing ever happened. But I would hold onto these things on the inside and tear myself up. But this time was different. I decided to put a stop to all of that.
In an unprecedented move, I put down my pride, picked up the phone and called my dad. I told him that his words hurt, that I was an adult and I didn't appreciate being screamed at like that. I have always been very sensitive and for the first time I tried to make him understand how the yelling just hurt. Why couldn't we just talk like normal people? I am not an unreasonable person and usually if someone points out something I did wrong in a gentle way I listen and take it to heart. And I was in the wrong for sure. And you know what my dad said? He said, "I'm sorry". Those are two words I have never heard him say before.
He also said other things. We talked about some of the things that had happened in our past. You see, I had never told him I had forgiven him because I didn't think it was necessary. It was just a work that God had done in my heart and I just loved my dad. All of it was water under the bridge to me. It had been 12 years in the past when some of this stuff had happened. But Dad says to me, "But it's still right here for me, Lisa." Wow. That just broke my heart. I finally saw the forgiveness I needed. And you know what I said? I said, "I'm sorry." I had said it before, but it was different for some reason. I meant it before but I guess I never realized how much I had hurt him. I was a different person back then. That is not an excuse but I guess I figured since Jesus forgave me, then it was taken care of.
My dad said one more thing before he hung up. He said "I love you Lisa." Those were words rarely heard as well. And you know what? We have not had one single fight since that day. God has done something truly amazing. He has opened doors that I considered sealed shut. I had lost hope and faith that things could ever be right.
I share all of this because this is the awesome power of God at work in my life. And I know this is what happens when I submit. But it is so hard. There is so much unspoken hurt that comes to the surface when you allow him access to every little corner of your heart. But there is healing on the other side. And oh how beautiful that is. You walk through fire to get there, but you realize that the fire is what brought the healing. That is God's purifying work in the heart of one who lets go.