Tuesday Reflections: The Lenten Fast (Part 2)

Over the next couple of months, I’m offering Tuesday reflections on pain, healing, and recovery. I hope you’ll join the community of folks walking this road together. (To keep up with this reflection series, signup for blog updates in the maroon box in the left sidebar.)

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There are ways around this sort of living, yes. We can avoid the pain of the past, the confrontation of any of our accusers. We can numb everything as a way to avoid exploring our histories, to avoid the necessity of mustering a forgiving spirit. Alcohol was my best anesthesia, but any addiction will do. I don’t have to tell you yours.

Coping is easier for a season, isn’t it? The best medicine for the pain, though, is to extend the forgiveness of Christ.

~Coming Clean, December 7

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We walked into Lent last week, and I outed my own Lenten fast, a fast from unforgiveness. It's not an easy process, this daily exercise of listing those who've wounded us, who will wound again. It takes a certain sort of crazy to relive the stabbings inflicted by our fellow men, to release resentment over the bloodying of our best, whitest shirts.

I suppose I could fake it. You could, too. We could talk about forgiveness in a hypothetical bubble, bat around the idea as if batting around the idea might somehow actualize it. The spoken word poet Buddy Wakefield says it best. “There are ways around being the go-to guy.”

This exercise of listening, of pushing into your pain and forgiving your wounders is hard work. You could ignore those who continue to wound you, could reach for the human salves, the best distractions--gin, chocolate, the midnight run or midnight porn. You can beat back the voices of pain by way of performance, or achievement. You could minimize the volume of pain by turning up the theological sound system, by creating constructs that discount the hurt. You could; couldn't you?

There are ways, see; there are ways.

These salves are a way around the pain, at least for a while. But where there’s cancer, a skilled surgeon reaches for the scalpel, not a Band-Aid.

How is your forgiveness list coming?

Reflective Exercise:

1. As you push into the practice of forgiveness, as you review your daily list, do you feel the coping mechanisms calling? Have you already skipped a day or two?

2. If you've been participating in this forgiveness practice, tell me: how do you feel after you finish speaking forgiveness over your daily list?

 

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