Sunday night I was thinking about the three purple X’s the doctors drew on my grandma’s chest before her radiation treatments for lung cancer. I wrote about them in an earlier blog post and have not been able to get them out of my mind. Thinking about them again, got me to thinking about all the plans I made with my grandma. The little yellow house she said we’d live in some day; the white rocking chairs on the front porch, and hand-squeezed lemonade we’d leisurely sip. I started scratching away on the back of another story until 30 minutes later, I had something.
What I had written was full of love, and sadness, and so much anger. A self-destructive seed of anger planted in the heart of very tender 13-year old girl. I loved my grandma dearly; and truly, I say a part of me died the day she left me. And that’s how it felt when she died that she had abandoned me. When I woke up Monday morning, I was so troubled by the notion I could hate my grandma- hate her for dying of a horrific disease 25 years ago. But there it was. My morning devotionals have felt perfunctory at best for the last couple of weeks. I know it’s not always inspired words and Holy Ghost hugs when I’m sitting in my big brown chair, but my devotion to the practice, the ritual of it all, brings me peace, so I keep at it. But I needed a word of comfort, something to ease my distress. I never ask for a particular scripture from God as I just don’t think that is the sort of thing God would do for me. I asked and he answered almost immediately. Colossians 3:13. This was significant for at least one reason. I’m on my first reading of the Bible (and only starting Luke) so I wasn’t even sure that Colossians had a Chapter 3 or Verse 13. So I grabbed my black leather Bible with the silver owl on it and flipped to the verse.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (NIV)
It’s cliché, and I own this cliché, but I felt like I had been stabbed in the heart. Tears, buckets full, tumbled from my eyes. I could not stop sobbing. I needed to forgive my grandma for leaving me. The adult in me realized that people get sick and they die, but the 13- year old in me hated her for abandoning me and not keeping her promise to run away with me.
Of course, I immediately forgave her and told her I was so sorry for holding her illness and death against her. Then I saw flashes of all the times people promised to be with me, made plans with me for the future, and how they walked away sometimes without even an explanation. Some of the explanations were flat out lies (possibly to ease the hurt, but lies, nonetheless). Then, the really hard images started. All the times I have bailed on people because I wanted to beat them to the punch of leaving me. Good people. People who loved me and wanted a future with me. And promises I’ve made to people, typically with good intentions, but sometimes not followed through.
So I started down the line forgiving each person and situation. Then worked on forgiving myself for my broken promises. After all of that I didn’t think there were any more tears to shed. I told myself it was time to get out of my big brown chair, give myself a hug, and made a promise to myself to do better in the future and pray that God’s grace would continue to heal my heart so the next time someone breaks a promise or leaves my life (or I leave someone’s life) there’s some peace about it all.