The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
~ Psalm 34:18
Over and over again, the Bible is filled with Jesus exhibiting love. Love for the stranger. Love for those who are paralyzed. Love for a criminal. Love for even the least of these. We are encouraged to love those who despise and hate us. To sit and eat with those who are our enemy. While I keep hearing the words of Jesus, I am torn by my own humanness to respond, "I simply cannot."
I am reminded that loving others opens the doors to relationship with others, but it also creates opportunities for pain as well. Some of my deepest wounds have been inflicted by those whom I have loved the deepest.
Years ago I volunteered for a violence and sexual assault hotline. I learned about the "Cycle of Violence," and the pain that abuse in relationships can cause. Not for those directly involved, but for family members and friends who are witnesses to the pain that can be caused as well. Abuse suffered by those who we love does more than just cause broken hearts, it can also result in broken lives.
In spite of these wounds and the brokenness we may feel, we are encouraged to love. Of course, I am a firm believer that perpetrators of violence must be stopped, and that consequences of their actions must be brought into the light of day, with the hope that the person being victimized can move from the situation to being a survivor, free from the worry of the, "next time."
It is harder when those who have inflicted the pain are those that we love. For some, including myself, it takes extraordinary steps to once again trust and allow for the person to participate in the love that I have available for others. If we are not careful, we can certainly become bitter. Sometimes it is a matter of allowing for time. While time does not heal all wounds, it does allow for distance. And then there are those opportunities to stand where you are, and allow for the stance you have taken to take root and grow into something stronger.
So much of what happens in these times are encountered among days that seem to operate on a different understanding of time. The days that follow can seem to be endless. The love that we experience in Christ allows us to find our pathway to new joy, even while our sorrow guides us. When the initial tears of our pain arrive, they serve to wash the pathway ahead, and allow for a clearer view.
I do not know how it is that we reconcile when we have been so deeply hurt that joy fails to arrive, and the tears fail to stop flowing. When we acknowledge how the pain has left us feeling abandoned, and we cannot find the breath to even whisper, "I forgive you."
It is in these moments that I begin to fully understand God's omnipotent presence. Somehow, even when we fail to see God's image staring back at us in the mirror, there are still these words, "I love you."
Do you hear His voice?
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
Rev. G. Todd Williams is the author of the book, "Remember Me When..." and is a former hospice chaplain and pastor.