The words we hear… It has so much less to do with the words themselves and so much more to do with the relationship between speaker and listener.
In the early days of my surgery recovery, a man I have known my whole life remarked to me that “Ostomies are gross!” The words stung, like some sort of parental rejection. I stiffened at these words. It felt as though porcupine quills had emerged at the startling threat to my acceptance of this life change.
The ostomy was not my choice. The surgical amputation of a third of my colon was the last resort to other less invasive failed medical interventions. I was left a semicolon. This is the hand I was dealt.
Each time his words floated into my awareness, I dismissed them with logic. I reasoned that he is an inconsiderate extrovert. I reminded myself that the colectomy was an emergency action taken to restrain the infection assaulting my body. I comforted myself with the truth that my illness does not define me; who I am is defined in God’s Word.
I told myself many times that I forgave him for the thoughtless comment.
Yesterday I learned that he was hospitalized, a portion of his foot was amputated as a last resort to other less invasive failed medical interventions. My initial thought was one of concern and compassion. The following thought was snide: “Perhaps I should inform him that four-toed feet are gross!”
In that moment, I knew that I needed to forgive him.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Just as in Christ, God forgave me…
How does God forgive me?
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression…? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:18-19
So, I understood the course I needed to take. Pardon of his thoughtlessness. Forgiveness for his offense. Mercy in the face of rudeness. Compassion in the place of impertinence.
He, the one who caused the wound, is completely unaware of how his words impacted my heart. He is utterly ignorant of how is words shook my then fragile acceptance of a life-changing medical trauma.
It was less about the words, and more about who he is in my life. If the same words were spoken by one of my teenage sons, I would have unpacked their thoughts and feelings with them. If the same words were spoken by a customer, I would have dismissed it entirely. It was less about the words, and more about him.
I forgive you.
Forgiveness: the work of God that has long brought me freedom from emotional wounds.
I forgive you.
The wound was about him.
Forgiveness is about me.
Forgiveness is setting my heart aright after it has taken a blow.
Forgiveness is walking the narrow road as a Christ-follower.
Forgiveness is about loosing the bonds that shackle me to the offense.
I forgive you.
And now my heart feels only sadness that he is facing a life-changing medical trauma of his own. I wish him courage. I pray for his healing. He is forgiven.