A couple of months ago, I wore a new pair of athletic shoes that I had only worn once. I had bought them to go on a float trip the week before that, and they were now dry and ready to wear again in public.
I had been wearing them for a couple of hours, and most of that time I was sitting down. But once I got up and started to walk around more, I noticed that there was something annoying stabbing me in the middle of my left foot. I sat down in an empty room and removed my shoe to see what the culprit might be.
The most irregular small rock I had ever seen had somehow worked it’s way to a tender spot on my foot and stayed there. I had to take off the shoe and remove it myself. It wasn’t going anywhere otherwise, and the annoyance would have turned into pain. I threw it in the trash.
Shoes are made to protect our feet. But when something invades the shoe and gets between that barrier and the foot, pain results. The invading object must be removed for the health and comfort of the foot.
Why am I stating the obvious? I’m glad you asked!
It’s hard for us to reach adulthood without having someone invade our happy young souls (not soles) with sharp, hurtful words and actions. We begin putting up barriers so that these things will not happen, but when we allow the sharp words and the mean attitudes to fester under the surface, it causes us to continue in emotional pain. We may be able to move on for a while, but there will always be someone who will come along and say or do something that dredges that sharp thing up from the depths again and reopen the wound that has been made.
Many of us think that forgiving the person who hurt us means that we are saying that what they said or did is okay. But that’s not it at all!
Rather, forgiveness is affirming that the sharp thing does not belong inside our souls where it will continue to hurt us. It is affirming that the sharp thing is bad for us. It is removing the barrier just long enough to get that thing out of there and throw it in the trash where it belongs.
Do we have to forget about it, then?
There is a certain part of remembering that needs to happen just to help us be cautious and not put ourselves in situations where we will be hurt again.
However, the memory of our hurts may well recur in a way that invites us to reintroduce the sharp rock into our soul and let it fester again.
It is at those times that we must purposely reject those memories.
I read recently that Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross, was reminded by a friend about something hurtful that someone had done to her in the past. She responded,
“I distinctly remember forgetting that.”http://pawprints.kashalinka.com/anecdotes/clara-barton
This is exactly what we need to do, too. When that hurtful, sharp memory tries to invade our souls again, we must reject that thought. Personally, I say to myself, “I choose to forgive.” I also pray in that moment if the memory is particularly sharp, and yield the thought to God, asking His help in the process of forgiveness, even praying that the Lord will bless that person with the knowledge of Him and bring them to repentance.
Something new that I’ve been trying is helping, as well.
I noticed something that I had missed in Ephesians 4:32, even though I’ve read it and meditated on it many times before.
“Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.“Ephesians 4:32 NASB
Somehow, in the past, I split that verse in two.
I read it as though there were two different commands for two different groups of people; I thought (without realizing it) that I was to be kind and compassionate to everyone except the ones who had hurt me.
I only had to forgive them. Of course, I knew that if I was ever face to face with them, I would be expected to be kind. But it never occurred to me that maybe planning acts of kindness toward them, asking God to show me ways to be kind to them, or praying kind prayers (particularly for those whom I need to stay away from) might be in order.
I’ve found since I started practicing that, that joy has invaded my heart and helps keep the negative thoughts and feelings at bay.
Imagine that! Here some of us thought (though we may not admit it) that God was trying to force something unpleasant on us when He told us to forgive, but all along He wanted to bless us with joy and freedom!
Today, I’m thankful for shoes that protect my feet.
I’m thankful that I don’t have to keep a rock in my shoe if it happens to invade that tender spot between my foot and the sole.
I’m thankful that I don’t have to keep sharp and hurtful thoughts around in the tender spot of my soul, either.
I’m thankful for new insights into God’s written word.
And I’m thankful for the joy that God gives when we truly forgive and seek ways to have kind and compassionate thoughts toward those who have hurt us.
What about you? Have you ever experienced the pain of having a rock or some other foreign object in your shoe? Can you relate to this illustration? What works for you to get the painful sharp memories out of your soul and keep them out?
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