Earp Takes Aim | Faith, Culture, Life

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A Healing Gift

“I must give her what Christ gave me.” 

If I’ve told myself that once these past few days, I’ve repeated it [both verbally and internally] more than 20 times.

The details are unimportant, but suffice it to say:  I got emotionally T-boned recently.  It came in the form of words on a page and catalogued some perceived offenses that, in this person’s view, I have committed. 

The first thing I wanted to give her was a piece of my mind.  I was angry that she would not only make such false accusations – but that she would do it in such an intentionally hurtful way. 

Then I wanted to give her a dose of her own medicine.  After all, who doesn’t need to duck as soon as we dare cast the first stone?

Then I wanted to give an explanation.  In the world of social media, anybody with a Facebook account — [and way too much time] plus no regard for personal ethics [even less the truth] — can write anything they care to write.  If there’s an axe to grind anybody can, through words, suck hundreds of unsuspecting bystanders into a drama for which strangers have no context and even less desire to be involved in.  But since I live in that social media world, and because I feel compelled to try to share my story, every post I write makes me especially vulnerable to anybody with a gripe. 

Even more, since I am passionate about transparency and integrity?  And since I’m seldom hesitant to admit that I mess up more than I don’t?  My knee-jerk response is to try provide context that nobody cares to have and to re-tell a story they have no business entering into.

And that’s where I found myself.  In a very helpless and stuck place — exactly the place she wanted me to be. 

But then, even as I viewed the wreckage, I thought:  “I COULD give her what Christ gave me.”  And the more I repeated that self-talk, the more I began to realize what a gift my accuser had given me.  Seven months ago, such blabber left me distraught and immobilized.  My gaping wounds were so fresh that additional ones only deepened my gushing flow of tears and what, to me, felt like unending pain. 

But not this time.  Nope, not this week.

Far from helpless, I am, by grace, in a healing mode.  God, for whatever reason, has chosen to do a restoring work in my heart — a work I can only describe as extraordinary.  I already knew the healing was happening, but my family member’s words just made me even more keenly aware of how beautifully God’s work in me has been unfolding.

I’ve been using a line recently, “You don’t wanna mess with a man who’s lost his wife.”  I don’t mean it in a threatening way.  What I mean is– you’ve got no business even trying to mess with him; he’s way too strong for that. 

Like a gnarly piece of stale jerky, a man [or woman] who has lost a spouse the way I lost Cindy has become way too tough to let anything get to him.  Not mean…STRONG.  And unafraid of any other kind of loss.  I mean, he’s already lost the great love of his life.  Do you really think that there is any other potential attack that’s gonna unsettle him?  REALLY?

For you who are playing at home…this “play” didn’t.  In fact, far from unsettling me, it has empowered me.  I feel so empowered that I am making a decision and not just reacting with emotion. 

So I have made my choice.  And because Jesus’ command to forgive “seventy times seven” is not about some moron pulling a stunt against me 490 times, but rather our human tendency to “take forgiveness back” and get angry all over again about the same stupid thing – wasting time and energy and affecting other relationships in the process? 

I will probably KEEP choosing and keep deciding…until my emotions fully align with the decision I have already made. 

Just to be clear:  I’m not being noble.  I’m an inconsistent, carnal, selfish, man who has known failure and compromise and evil destructive intent.  In fact, even though other people have negatively impacted my life through the years?  No one has ever disappointed and hurt me as much as I have disappointed and hurt me.  So this isn’t Stevie trying to ascend to and than plant my stake first in some moral high ground.  Nope.  That high ground is the place where only One can stand. 

But what I can do — and what I choose to do — is forgive. 

It’s what I advised Cindy to do {so many times} when she faced this exact circumstance.  But even as I gave her my counsel, I wasn’t sure how she would be able to do it.  But she always did.  Cindy would respond with such grace in the face of hurtful attack — with a charm and a humility that was far beyond anything I ever imagined I could do. 

But now, as a man who has lost his wife, I’m finding that I can also do stuff I never thought I would. 

So…after a long, deep cleansing breath — I pushed the reset button and said to myself once again, with conviction:

“I WILL give her what Christ gave me.”

No anger.  No revenge.  No explanations. 

Just cool hand on a hot brow. 

A soft answer intended to turn away wrath. 

A fresh cheek, vulnerable and exposed. 

An “I love you…and forgive you.  And I really do hope that you will forgive me, too.”

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