There are a couple of things I'm really good at: reading (Is that really a talent? Probably not.) and talking (again, probably not a talent). There are several things I'm pretty good at: playing the piano, following directions (not glamorous, but it is helpful in life!), making others feel comfortable, and crocheting. And there are SO many things I'm terrible at: anything athletic, anything scientific, anything requiring adrenaline, and anything that involves my vocal chords and melody. But the thing I'm probably, hands-down worst at, is holding a grudge.
Before you think, How is that a bad thing?, you need to know that I have tried, on so many occasions, to stay mad. I tried to stay mad at my brother most of our growing up years. He was obnoxious at worst, and mildly irritating at best, until he was at least 11 years old. I got mad at him all the time, but it was the staying mad that I couldn't master. And sometimes, I just wanted to stay mad. I wanted to withhold forgiveness, because back then, I thought that offering my forgiveness meant that I was saying the wrong done to me was okay. So it was annoying to get over it so quickly! (I've always had a problem with consistency.)
(I now realize that forgiving someone has less to do with the actual offense than with the state of my heart. By forgiving, I'm not saying what was done is not wrong, or that I wasn't hurt by it, but I am saying that despite the wrongness of it, and the hurt incurred, that I can let it go because it hurts me more to hold onto unforgiveness.)
But enough of the theology, back to my problem. It's inconvenient not being able to hold a grudge! If my husband and I get into a fight--er, discussion--I want to be able to hold onto that anger, so I can prove my point with some fire! I want to show, in a tangible way, that I AM MAD! What generally happens, instead, is that after about 10 minutes of feeling unjust, persecuted, under-appreciated, and in general, a martyr, I start seeing how I was in the wrong, as well. Just as I'm throwing prayers up saying, "Lord, change that man! Convict him! He needs to get right! Smite him!" I start hearing little whispers of "Apologize. Submit. Quit being so dramatic. Stop focusing on your own point of view. Try not being selfish." And then I start feeling the anger slip away, realizing that I am just as guilty. Always. Because even if I wasn't the cause of the conflict, I am always a willing participant when it comes to having a ready answer that's filled with more sassiness than needed. (Like I said, talking is one of my talents!)
Last week, when we got a diagnosis for our daughter that was devastating, I responded with white-hot anger. At God. I would've liked to direct it at somebody else, but there was no one else to blame. God made her, and all I could think was that He did this to her. Which means that if He wanted to, He could've not done this to her. So I was angry. Beyond angry, I was furious. Livid.
Remarkably, I sustained this anger for six days. Six days! That's a record for me. My old record was something like six hours. But there was a problem: every time I felt overwhelmed, I turned to God in prayer. Halfway through the words, "Lord, I feel . . ." I'd remember that I was mad at Him, and I'd finish off, lamely, "Oh, that's right. I'm mad at You. I'm not talking to You." This happened again, and again, and again.
And then I realized that I felt so much more alone, because I couldn't--no, wouldn't--turn to the One I always run to first when I'm hurt. And I had a breakthrough. It was literally one of those moments that I know I'll never forget: I saw, so clearly, that the reason I've never been able to hold on to anger is because I treasure relationships above anything else. And when I'm mad at someone, there is a break in communication, a distance, that I simply can't stand. I may be mad at my husband for some little wrong, but within just a few minutes I realize that the wrong is not worth missing out on intimacy with him. My relationship with my Father has always been important to me, but it is absolutely essential, like air to breathe and water to survive, now that I am walking in a very dark, very long, very lonely valley. And although this "wrong" done to my daughter, which very likely is not a wrong at all in His eyes, as hard as it is for me to accept, is not worth a break in my relationship with Him.
Does this mean I'll never again feel angry about this situation? I doubt it. But it has shown me, with clarity I've never had before, how important walking with God is to me. And while I wouldn't have chosen this path for my family, and right now I'd still get off it if given the choice, I can see that He has amazing things, amazing truths, planned for me along the way. If only I can get out of the way and let Him teach me.