Today I was really irritated by things at work. Well, honestly, not just today, the last couple of weeks. Out of proportion, irritated by stuff that in the long run is pretty trivial.
Because of this, today I realized that some of the emotional impact has nothing to do with work. I don’t know what brought these other feelings circling around, but I think there is something I need to say. It isn’t “I forgive you.”
I know, forgiveness is something you do for yourself, not for the person who wronged you. I have really been trying to get there. After something like 14 years, and my heart still starts beating fast, though I haven’t broken down in sobs over it for a couple of years now. What horrible thing was done to me? Nothing. I suddenly became nothing.
I thought I had friends, I thought I had a support system. We homeschooled together. I taught their children how to make bread and do crafts. They taught my daughter things, too.
Yeah, there were always some things we weren’t quite included in. I mean, it happens. We didn’t live close and didn’t have near the same income as most of the families. But we went to the same church, and it was a church that taught compassion.
I didn’t realize until we went through a big loss of income that compassion was reserved for the homeless in the park once a month, not the person in the seat next to you falling apart.
It didn’t happen all at once. When I had to put my daughter in public high school so I could work, we still got included in the occasional weekend activity. But the invitations grew less. When my car broke down and we couldn’t replace it, it was too inconvenient to give my daughter a ride to youth group. I don’t know what came first, that or some nasty rumors someone spread about her, but at the time my daughter needed her friends and her church the most, suddenly she became no one to them.
And I kept thinking, this will get better. There will be a period of adjustment and then they will remember she is their friend. Instead the parents stopped talking to me. I would say “Hi” and they would turn away. One Sunday I made eye contact with someone who was walking right in my direction. I saw them see me, scowl, then quickly turn and head a different direction.
I joined the special holiday choir, but then got bronchitis so bad I couldn’t go back to church for 3 months. No one even called to see why I wasn’t there. When I went back, only one person even said “Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while.”
I think a direct rejection would have been easier than suddenly becoming invisible. I didn’t go back, and no one even cared.
And see, that is what makes forgiveness so hard. I don’t know if they even realized how much it hurt. I never even had a chance to ask if I had done something I could fix.
But then I also understand. There is this theology, often unspoken. If you are living right, God blesses you. If you are struggling, you must not have enough faith, or there must be some hidden sin. And their own blessings are a sign of holiness.
But what if God sees things we don’t see? What if the hard stuff some people go through is just part of this fallen world, or even part of a bigger plan? What if they had a chance to learn about a different kind of compassion?
I wasn’t asking for help, or for them to solve all my problems. I was just asking for the friendship that I thought we had shared. Now those years of relationship taste bitter in my mouth. If I really wanted to, I still know how to reach a few of the people who hurt me. Honestly, I tried a couple of times. I couldn’t make myself do it. So yeah, this forgiveness thing might take a while.
Because first I have to forgive myself. Somedays I almost believe I’m not invisible.