Im starting to love the words “I’m sorry” – and strangely not just hearing the sound of them, but actually saying them…and possibly even meaning them too! It feels odd, but its amazingly liberating to acknowledge that you screw things up and make mistakes sometimes. It takes the pressure off trying to be perfect when you realise you can make mistakes and the world keeps turning and people still love you.
Those who know me well will understand how much I don’t like to get things wrong. I don’t admit that I do it very often, which can get worrying because after a while you actually start to believe it and you end up thinking that your opinion is always the right one and that you’ve always done the right thing. I suppose I find it hard to disagree with my own opinions (unsurprisingly), I don’t doubt myself or my ability very often and if I do something its usually because I have a conviction that its the right thing for me to do, so its hard to be told otherwise. But that’s a pretty stubborn place to be in and it doesn’t leave much room for humility – or for others. I’m trying to be more open and quicker to listen than to speak. It’s hard.
The other perk of embracing the “I’m sorry” attitude is that when you finally admit to yourself that you’re not perfect and you screw things up sometimes, it opens you up to being ok with the fact that others sometimes hurt you and make mistakes too!
I’ve really struggled to forgive some people in the past. I wouldn’t say that I’ve had an overly difficult life at all, but there have definitely been significant incidents over the years that have burnt me badly and I’ve found it difficult to let go of them. I’ve held onto some hurts for a really long time – honestly not even realising I was doing so. It’s only when you finally forgive and let go that you realise how heavy what you were holding onto was. It’s funny how you get used to the weight you’re carrying and forget what it was like to walk without it!
The thing that sparked all this was listening to someone ask a group of people to forgive her. I didn’t feel like she really deserved forgiveness at the time. I felt like she didn’t even really get what she’d done wrong or the pain she’d caused. She just sat there and told them that she’d forgiven them and theyshould forgive her. I think what annoyed me most was the fact that she seemed to be doing ok with it all, and the others still looked quite broken. It felt unfair that it should be that way round. I felt that she should really be carrying the weight of it all – not the others – but she wasn’t. That’s not to say that she wasn’t being sincere, she just appeared to have dealt with things and moved on from it all. People who forgive themselves really easily can annoy me sometimes – mainly because I find that hard to do so. I think I want them to hurt as much as I do, which isn’t exactly gracious. But then as she bounced off all light and fluffy and the others sat there still looking burdened it suddenly dawned on me that the forgiveness wasn’t for her sake at all – it was for theirs. It didn’t actually effect her all that much if the other people forgave her or not – she was getting on with life – but it did effect the others. They would now have a choice to either forgive and move on, or not forgive and carry it with them.
It made me realise that I was still carrying around a few things that although I thought I had dealt with, I hadn’t fully let go of. I was letting things that happened in the past be excuses to try and “fly solo” and think that I couldn’t – and shouldn’t – rely on other people too much. I thought I was just protecting myself from disappointment and being let down by keeping a bit of a distance, but it had turned into a hardness that I hadn’t anticipated. When life’s been hard I’ve retreated and tried to deal with things on my own to prove that I don’t need others and that I can sort things out myself – and I can – but how sad to go through alone what you could go through with friends? I share stuff with my friends – quite openly – but there’s definitely a line of vulnerability I find it hard to cross. I’ve changed churches quite a lot over the last 7 years, moving on to a new group of people as soon as things get too close – probably so that people don’t get too involved in my life. I’ve missed out on the closeness and accountability of a church family because I was scared I’d be let down again. I owe a lot to the Kings Church guys who have made that place feel like home and stepped right into my life. You guys love people really well and I’m grateful for you.
All this isn’t to say that I’ve spent the last however many years not trusting or loving anyone at all. That would be overly dramatic and a sad story indeed. As I said, I hadn’t realised quite what I had been carrying around. I guess I just don’t want the things of the past to adversely effect my relationship with others now. Its lead to – at times – unreasonably high expectations of the people in my life and a “quick, run!” attitude when I feel I might get hurt. Neither are a healthy way of doing life, so I think its time for a change.
So here’s to a new day, a blank page and a whole heap of fresh starts.
“To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing” – unknown