There is an elephant in the room.
You will find this post located under the Dirty Laundry header on my site --that is if I can ever remember to tag it there. It is 3 am. One might say that I am up because of the spicy meal from Chili's that I consumed ravenously. It was pretty tasty. However, that is only part of the reason I bare my soul to a glowing computer screen in the wee hours of the night. One also might say that I am up at 3 am because the first shift of children has moved to our bed --I think it's time for a King's size bed for our sake. However, that is not the entire reason either. The real reason I am up at 3 am is because I had a bad dream.
Sometimes dreams can be random - a virtual picture of what you watched the night before on television. Tonight, however, my dream is rooted in something I struggle with from time to time: bitterness. This elephant is ugly.
He's got dry, crackling skin, he's beastly in size, and he stinks. When bitterness is in the room, everybody knows it. One of my favorite childhood books is the Hungry Little Caterpillar. Great book. Bitterness reminds me a bit of a hungry caterpillar. It looks harmless enough- little, green, lots of legs, inching too and fro - but boy can it eat!
It takes up residence in your heart and starts eating away at your joy, your emotions, and more than anything --it eats up time. Precious time that belongs to the Lord and His kingdom work. Bitterness becomes a consumer to anyone willing to take that first bite.
In my dream tonight, I chewed someone out. I cried. I yelled. I screamed. I rattled. Matter of fact, I rattled off all the reasons to them why I was hurt in regards to our friendship. It was loaded.
I layed out every offense in true court-room-style public debate. See, in real life, I justify everything. The way I feel is usually based on facts. Yet, this does not always serve me well. It can be beneficial, but it can send me into "justify it" mode. "If you are mad at me, justify your feelings." "For what reason?" "Did I offend you one day?" "Is there an instance that you can recall that justifies that?" I am Newton's Third Law wrapped up into human skin. 'For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.' As an adult, the relational struggles that have flattened me the most are the ones that are "feeling" based and not "fact" based. I know my tendency - the need to lay out every instance of hurt on the table. You know, clear the air, and remove Mr. Elephant. The problem with justification my way is it makes a complete mockery of what I believe spiritually. You know why? Because Christ died for sinners. The Bible says that because I have made Jesus Lord of my life - He physically blots out my sin for His own sake. If I had a running tab in Heaven that listed my sin -- Jesus would be there crossing each offense out one by one with the blood He spilled on the cross. See, the way I view the world and relationships, it's not the way I want my God to even view me. Seems twisted doesn't it? God's word says that he is "slow to anger" and "abounding in love" not wanting "anyone" to perish.
I struggle with the intersection of needing to simply forgive and needing to unload the "why" of how we got to where we are today.
The truth is the problem lies within me. Forgiveness is not always justified on man's end, but it is always necessary on God's. I have had to forgive people that never apologize for anything. The proverbial perfect storm of apology is obviously when two people both realize their error and mutually agree to forgive and move forward. I'm finding in adulthood that that perfect scenario is rare. Talking things out is often very uncomfortable, but the alternative is to live with an ugly, stinky, elephant named Bitterness. I have a hard time ignoring an elephant like that! I do not think that every offense committed needs a confrontation. I do believe that every relationship is different and what works for some people does not work for others. Uncomfortable or not, sometimes talking it out is the appropriate first step. In this case, despite my desire to run away from the conflict, my dream shows the condition of my heart towards this person. If it weren't true, I would not give it so much merit. Yet, I know the truth and more importantly I know the Lord. He is never content to leave my heart in this condition. God is never in favor of bitter roots and elephants in rooms. He is the God of peace - Jehovah Shalom. What about you? Is there an elephant in the room with you? Pray today and see how God leads you to resolve the issue peacefully.