it sure has been a while since i've been to blogger. however, i had to write about this in case it helps anyone else and also so i won't forget the feelings i have right now.
ok. how to make a long story short and non-specific...
well, first off, nathaniel and i have been going to church now for a month and a half. we feel like we've found one we really like and thus far they have not even come close to having a sermon that pushes us away. in fact, the sermon this past sunday was so moving, it took us all the way into church to meet with the pastor.
last week, the sermon was about forgiveness. the pastor gave a personal account of how truly forgive someone very close to him (his dad) - the hurt (for him) began in childhood and moved into adulthood. it was just an amazing story. when we left church that day, we both agreed that we needed to talk to him. no one is an expert in forgiveness, but when one so openly discusses personal trials and triumph about something so profound in his life, then i felt like he could provide us some help in a way to move into our own triumph: forgiveness. not sure exactly how to explain our issue, and i don't think WHAT it is is relevant, but just trust me, time has not healed our pain and it has definitely hindered things we've wanted to do.
so - we made an appointment to talk with the pastor. we sat for 1 hour and talked about our honest and innermost feelings with him, without shame (it was uncomfortable at times, but we got through that). it was such a release. i can only speak for myself when i say that several times, i felt like i was going to run over with emotions. several times i could feel tears wanting to build (i suppressed them). after that hour was over, i was a SO proud of my husband (for talking - you know, communication isn't easy for all men!). i really feel like we have hit the road to recovery. recovery meaning TRUE and COMPLETE forgiveness.
i'm shaking right now writing this! this is so emotional.
here are some key points that i want to remember: talking to the person/people with whom caused you pain and hurt (laying it all out on the table) is the best **and probably easiest** path to forgiveness. sometimes, though, that doesn't work - and it is ok. there is another way. you have to look deep inside your heart and truly and honestly forgive - without the acknowledgement from anyone else. closure is not always possible - and should not stop you from achieving your goal.
we naturally wanted to know how one could truly and honestly forgive. one suggestion was to write down honest feelings about what hurt you, how you tried to work it out, what you wish could happen - everything related to said topic. this could be an essay, a letter, something - but when you are done, throw it away/burn it/something (do not share it) and that is symbolic of releasing the pain that binds you to the issue. and, you forgive. this was such a wonderful idea. though nathaniel doesn't write ME letters, he is a great writer and i know he gets much enjoyment from it. we both thought this idea would help.
probably the most important thing the pastor said to us was to know that even in true forgiveness, your relationship with that person(s) may never change.
i think that is one place we had it all wrong. previously we felt like our forgiveness (the one we would do in our hearts without involvement or knowledge from the other party) would mean we had to mend the relationship. it is not required at all. after forgiveness, you can't expect the other person to change - or for you to suddenly be involved in their life or they in your life. that doesn't mean you haven't forgiven them.
so that is what we did for the first time. talked about our pain, hurt, and how to get over it.
last bit - nathaniel said in the car after we left that that was the first time he'd ever heard anyone pray for him. (i laughed because i pray for him all the time, just not outloud) - so another thing we need to practice is OUT LOUD talks with God (prayers) as a family and including our kids. i sure don't want them going through life not thinking anyone ever prayed for them! and i don't want them to think praying is just for blessing food.