An Anatomy of Pain – What in the World IS Forgiveness??

More than saying sorryWhat Is Forgiveness? – The Word often depicts forgiveness as one of the most important teachings. But WHAT is it? Well, let’s start with what it is not.

Forgiveness is NOT:

  • Saying, “Oh, it’s okay.” You can only say this if no one did you wrong, if you wouldn’t mind if they did it again. It is not okay with God for someone to do wrong. Don’t say it’s okay. That is not the truth. It is denial.
  • Forgetting. You will remember, even after you forgive. We have brains that make decisions based on remembering. Our memories help us be safe. We do not have delete buttons. You are not God; don’t think you have to forget. That opens the door for excuses.
  • Trusting. You do not have to trust an untrustworthy person, to prove you have forgiven him. The Bible often warns against trusting the untrustworthy. We must earn trust; no one can demand it. That is foolishness.

Now. Forgiveness IS:

  • Saying, “I forgive you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your feelings may be screaming and you may have to pray hard to say these words and to make them true. It’s okay. That is what the throne of grace is for—to get grace to help us in time of need.
  • Refusing to remember the sin against the sinner. It is a contract. Yes, something bad happened, but it is forgiven. The debt is paid. If you wrote off a bad debt as a wedding gift to a young debtor, would you then hope for payment or send a bill? No. It is forgiven.
    Actually, it is a lot like giving it to God. The word “forgive” means to give far. How far is far enough? The hands of God—leave it in His hands. That will do quite nicely.
  • Praying for the one who has hurt you. This is not optional. We are to love our enemies and do good to those who misuse us. It’s okay to do good from a distance, though. A card or phone call may be all you can manage. A secret pen pal note distances you even more, especially if you disguise your writing and mail from another town. Think hard—you can figure a safe way to bless the dangerous ones in your life.

We have to do this, Sisters. We must forgive, or we’re not forgiven, and who doesn’t need forgiving? We have to do this for our children’s sakes, too. When they see our ways with our enemies, when they see how we respond to our hurts, they will believe us more, about God.

And when God steps in and plants the forgiveness in your heart without any help from you, you’ll believe Him more, too.

More tomorrow.

An Anatomy of Pain – Remember, the World Hurts, Like a Sledge Hammer

Life can hurt like a sledge hammerWhy it Hurts – Sticks and stones . . . you know names can hurt worse. A bruise from a stone heals in a week or two, but the pain from name calling can last as long as your memory. It can last as long as we let it.

We can let it hurt for ages.

Do we want it to hurt? Maybe there’s something inside us that does. Do we feel proud if we can get that lower lip to quiver one more time?

I mean, people, IT HURTS!

Right? People notice? They pet us some more? They feel sorry for us?

Maybe not.

It’s just the world – People! Them! It’s not my fault, remember! No, it’s just the world. We forget something: “In this world ye shall have tribulation.” It’s a promise from God, but not one of those promises we name and claim, is it?

Jesus told us. He warned us. We should know it. It’s part of being alive. Tribulation, from the Latin root meaning sledge-hammer. How appropriate. The alternative is leaving this old world behind. Being alive in this world includes getting hammered. Being alive in this world also includes being part of it.  We are such sloppy communicators and such confused listeners, no one can help being part of the trouble.

God also told us, “The heart of man is desperately wicked. Who can know it?” I think that is part of the pain, too. We think we know so-and-so would never say that. We find out each person is capable of hammering on us. We think, finally, this relationship is secure.

Nope. Never.

As long as there are people, and that includes you and me, there will be hammerin’. People will hammer. They will hurt and not apologize. They will apologize and not sound sincere, not even know what they ought to have apologized for. It’s just the heart of man, including the women.

Sometimes, oh, I dunno, it seems, especially the women.

People don’t know what to apologize for because they have no idea they did anything. They truly have no idea what they are doing half the time, no idea what they’ve done. They say, “WHAT?!” and they mean it. What have I done? What is it THIS time? What?! They don’t know what they’re doing.

But we don’t remember something. The beloved voice that said, “In this world ye shall have tribulation,” also said, “Be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” He did not mean He could lick any enemy of ours in a moment, although He could do that. No, He meant He has overcome the whole mess, you and me included. The whole world—He could lick it all in a moment, and He will.

The God who said, “The heart of man is desperately wicked,” also said that He knows our hearts. Oops. Scary business, that. On top of that, He told us to rejoice and look up when it got really bad, because He would be close on the heels of the Very Worst Day. When That Day comes, we’d better be ready.

We’d better be cheered up!

More tomorrow.

An Anatomy of Pain

sad woman lying down

This is not about physical pain, although all women, and especially all wives, are great experts at physical pain. After having 6 children and around 2000 migraines, I certainly am.

But this is about the pain that attacks your soul, the confusion, indecision, and heartbreaks that can blindside us all.

Like when the doctor tells you morning sickness is all in your head.

Let’s just face it: The happenings in life are often unfair. We devote a third of our government to being sure life is fair, but unfairness still slips in, doesn’t it? A lot, right? It’s not enough that a child dies, but it sometimes must be that someone killed him. It’s not enough that a woman loses her husband, but sometimes it must be that some other woman stole him. It’s not enough that a house burns down, but sometimes it must be that an arsonist started a forest fire.

Isn’t that how it goes?

And it hurts most when friends and family are the perpetrators, doesn’t it? When your child is ungrateful, it hurts more. When your husband is lazy, it hurts more. When someone at church lies about you, it hurts more.  When your mother gets on your case, it hurts more.

Sometimes that’s just how it goes.

And sometimes, even that is not enough. Sometimes we also must go through these hurts alone. Having no defenders makes it tougher. Having no one to confide in intensifies it. Having no one just hurts. More.

Since I’ve been experiencing considerable pain, lately, I thought talking to you would help me keep my brain right-side up. Oh, I’ll share no real details, but generalities should be enough to help you help me help you. What about it?

Wouldn’t it be a good thing if we could turn our hurts into help for others?

I’m in. Let’s take a week to do an autopsy on mental and emotional pain. Let’s take every part out and learn what goes wrong and how to right it.

Maybe you know someone else you could share this with. Or send it to.

Maybe we all can feel better, think straighter, laugh more.

More tomorrow.

I Haven’t Made My Bed, Yet…

…No, my bed sits all a-jumble.

However, on a different topic, I found the most amazing thing while I was waiting for the bedding to make itself. 😉

I was just checking regular emails and discovered some news. In New York City, if you are very rich, you can get Special special education from the public schools. If you are poor, you cannot, no matter your need.

According to news writer Juan Gonzalez, if you can afford to sue the schools there, you can make them pay for the education your child really needs, as opposed to what the public schools there provide.

Just thought you’d like to know.

In the meantime, have you had snow yet?

If you are buried in snow, you might not be interested in this, but if you sit at the window longing for the first few flakes, take a look at this page,  and watch it snowing all over the world, as they call it. Fun.

And remember: In Alaska, Home’s Cooler! 😉

Attitude? Awareness? Vision? How Can a Tutor Know?

Needing glassesI used to tutor.

Once, a young mother came to me for help with her first-grader daughter. The girl had been in a private school and was producing perfect work, daily, but on the following days, she seemingly knew nothing from the day before. Everyone was puzzled. The mom had heard about home schooling, found my phone number on a poster, and thought I’d know something the girl’s teachers did not.

Scary scenario!

However, I’d recently received a copy of a learning styles test a friend had written, and thought that with it, and with private tutoring, perhaps I could discover something an overworked teacher had missed.

The child was sweet, bright, and eager. This was going to be fun. I gave the mom a copy of the test to fill out at home, since she probably knew her daughter better than anyone else. I began carefully disguised check-ups of the girl’s reading and math skills.

She was a puzzling bundle. She could know something one moment, then know nothing the next. We read from an early reader, and she would do very well after I told her almost every word. I wondered—was she guessing? Memorizing?

The learning style test had come back showing her to be a visual learner. She ought to love reading.

I turned to the back of the reader, and showed her vocabulary lists placed there for the teacher. I pointed to a word from our day’s reading, and asked her what it was. That’s when everything became clear.

“Oh, Ms Kathy! I could never read that word; it’s too little for me to see it.”

Dear me. A visual learner who cannot see. Of course. She was, indeed bright enough to memorize each day’s lesson, but had inadvertently missed learning to read.

That day, she and I made huge yarn letters together, one per page of construction paper, and did copy work on the board with letters one foot tall. Immediately she knew what was going on and began making enormous progress.

When her mom came to pick her up that day, I asked her if either she or her husband had vision problems. She said they both had trouble seeing much of anything, that their vision was corrected with contacts of a strong prescription.

I told her, “I think your little girl cannot see. I think that is the basis of the problem, plus missing out on the foundations of reading readiness.”

We both had tears in our eyes that day, and eventually the girl received her first pair of glasses. I lost that tutoring job soon afterward, but the joy of helping such a needy one, so quickly, was compensation enough for me.

Scream Carrot Gardening and How to Stay Alive

In the summer, we still teach our children. You know we teach them all the time, right?

Really fresh carrots

One summer, we were all out in the garden learning about how hard carrots can be to pull up. It was fun, though, a sort of tug-o-war between children and carrots, with Mom along to man the shovel if the tops broke off.

So many Bible lessons happen in the garden. We constantly show them how well the weeded plants grow, compared to the weedy ones. They know a beet seedling from a pigweed seedling, although they so resemble each other.

And the buckets of rocks!

They have learned to love harvesting their own snacks straight from the garden, like a small, perfectly sun-ripened tomato, rubbed until shiny and popped into the mouth to dribble everywhere while quenching thirst. They know a small packet of seeds can make all those jars of wonderful food in the basement.

The most important lessons the garden teaches, though, is that when Mom says you have to do something, whether you like it or not, you have to do it. This lesson, in a grown child and transferred to other authorities, can protect job security.

In a young child, it can save a life or limb.

Most dangers in life are unexpected. We can teach endlessly and still miss the lesson that will be needed tomorrow. This was the case, one day.

My son, another fearless one, about age twelve, had managed to extract one carrot that housed a curiously beautiful spider in its stems. He brought it to me to see its beauty and I’m sure my eyes widened.

“Drop it!” I ordered.

He looked at me, saw my face matched my tone, and obeyed. Today I still think about it. He was happy with his find, happy in his boldness, and probably happy in anticipation of sharing and of my praise. What a big deal to older brother, to turn loose of this happiness! But he did it.

And that day, the garden yielded up the lessons of the black widow spider. God’s protection, parents’ obligation to protect children, children’s obligation to obey, and the continuing obligation for all to “FEAR NOT!”—all those lessons and more came from our garden that day.

And I am not afraid, but I still shudder. His right hand was two inches from destruction.

But God can fit inside two inches.

Last story in this series here!

How a Crazy Picnic Morphed into a Sweet Memory

Labrador puppyLong ago—oh, so long ago—we set out, trembling but sure, with little but our dear children and sheer determination, to home school.

Our children had endured unhappy experiences where they were, we had tired of the huge expense of a private education that produced unhappiness, and we imagined we could do at least as well as the teachers we had met.

Not much going for us? Well, we thought we had the world by the tail.

We did have it by the tail.

One of our first home-school acquisitions, a black Lab puppy, soon taught us some lessons about the joy of life. Before he grew out of the puppy stage, he had been, as the joke says, “like a Slinky—not really good for much, but it’s fun to watch him fall down.” As a Retriever, he totally loved retrieving, but never did really learn also to relinquish the retrieved thing. Still, if he brought the pop fly balls from wa-a-ay outfield, all slobbery, and we had to tussle them out of his mouth, it saved time and endless running for us and provided him no end of joy and exercise.

As our schedule solidified and we found more time for relaxation during schooling, we chose a particularly crisp, sunny day for a simple picnic. Just sandwiches, granola bars, and juice in sippy cups, each one making his own lunch, was all we wanted—that and a blanket outdoors. Because our year-old pup relished people food, we took along his dish, a bit of dog food, a dog biscuit, and some “fetch toys”. Loading all this into our wheelbarrow, we rolled out to the backside of our seven acres for a lazy hour of rejuvenation.

As we ate and tossed toys for our pup, we played silly games, joking and teasing a lot. Pup managed to steal half a sandwich from the youngest, which I replenished with half of mine. Oh, the laughter of that afternoon!

About a month later, we unearthed time for our second, ever, home-school picnic. Out came the same wheelbarrow, the same red blanket, the same toys, the same lunch bags….

Suddenly, from seemingly nowhere, our Lab appeared, running round and round the wheelbarrow, barking all the way. We laughed at him and his excitement. Could he be anticipating what our actions implied? Could he be excited about going on another picnic?

He scooped up his food dish in his teeth and ran a couple of circles around us, galloped off to the backside of the seven acres to deposit it, then rushed back barking all the way to hurry us along. That’s when we were certain of it: he actually remembered the fun of a month ago and seemingly could not wait for a replay.

Still laughing, more in wonder than amusement, we hurried as best we could while he continued barking.

What a marvel that a dog could understand family togetherness better than the world can!

The next hour filled with creating more happy memories.

But we guarded the sandwiches better.