repugnant elephants

It was so gradual and undercover that I didn’t even know it was happening. There were few words and much space between interactions. And here I am, 4 years later, bitter and sad and lonely and dried up. I am filled with fear, walling myself up so as to never open up and be hurt again. I am angry and filled with the need to be right. I’m unable and unwilling to move first, to humble myself and say “sorry”; the word I don’t mean. I’m jealous and so busy comparing and competing…all the while, knowing that I’ve lost. And I’m aware. Aware this resentment is hurting me so badly…making me a person I hardly recognize; scared to really address the issue and choose healing and grace. I am busy with work and duties and serving and cooking and cleaning. I am upset and full of self-pity, resentful and offended. I am holding deeply this grudge. But mostly, I am sad. 

I deeply miss my friend. The one who watched way too many Hallmark Christmas movies with me. The one who would kick my butt to exercise and eat healthier. The one who took trips with me to Wal-Mart, to fill my basket with things not on my list. The chipper, easy going, comic relief. The calm, intelligent, loyal friend. The open-minded, stylish, food-lover. This person made me want to be more joyful. She made me want to love my family better. She made me want to be a better learner, a better friend, and a better baker. 

And then life happened. She hurt me. And I hurt her too. And we didn’t talk. And something deep inside of me took root. Self-pity, the feather mattress that seemed so snug and cozy. Coddled and emotionally unavailable, I felt sorry for myself, replaying the sad story of how my friend hurt me. Telling myself she is mad at me for changing professions..for falling in love and letting my friendships slip…for overstepping my bounds…for not responding to texts…for becoming a different person. That soft, fluffy mattress initially felt so comfy, until I woke one morning and realized I haven’t had a restful night of sleep in years because that mattress is really so hard and uncomfortable. The pitiful need to be right was suffocating. The resentment was hurting me more than anyone else.

And that morning, I thought of our last time together, all alone as she curled my hair on my wedding day. I asked her for her best marriage advice. She said, “When you’re in the middle of a fight remember, you’re not always right.”

So I called her, stomach turning and head pounding. She picked up the phone and we talked and laughed and shared funny stories, and potential opportunities, and scary fears, and secret joys. And then I brought it up. The gray, crusty, nasty elephant that has been stinking and filling my heart with lies and grudges. And we apologized and cried and forgave and cleaned the slate. 

And this work of opening the window and shining light on this old, pathetic story of a dark, damp cellar of resentment has been one of the most healing, transforming things God has done in my life.

What freedom and peace and joy there is in truth and forgiveness! What healing and restoration and comfort in authenticity and humility!

I’m just beginning to learn this, but what a breakthrough for me to discover that the destructive forces of the ugly bitterness don’t compare to the power of the light shining truth and forgiveness  into the darkness.  

What dark, revolting elephant have you been dwelling with? What steps do you need to take today to open the shades and let the light shine in?

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