I have been working on a book for a couple years now. I’m about 2/3 done with the first draft. Yeah – I’m slow at this process. I’m feeling that the season to finish this book is bubbling closer to the surface. So I want to start sharing it. I feel like it’s the right time to put it out there. So, as the saying goes- “Here goes nothing!”
“Campouts, Quicksand, and Cesspools: A journey through life’s messes”, by Lori Tisdale
Things happen. Circumstances of life stink sometimes. Something happens to us that hurts. Sometimes that is done intentionally, sometimes done unintentionally. In those sticky messes we get often let ourselves get really good at camping out around the hot coals of hurt & hatred, or knowingly following our friends right into their murky quicksand, and sometimes even inviting our friends along with us into our own cesspools of junk … all while on our journey to forgiveness due to life’s messes.
Sometimes unintentionally, but sometimes we even set out to do so. Stupidly, some of us actually wanted to get ourselves stuck. We even wanted to take others down when we went – because having our friends join us in a pool of bitterness would make for a great party. Right?! (wink)
So, we go on our campouts. We feel the need to escape life’s circumstances, be one with the earth (visualize dirt and grime) and settle in for a while. We find our camping spot and unpack ALL.THE.GEAR. We put our stakes down as the tents go up and then we dig in for a long stay around the campfire. We comfortably settle into our seats and turn inward as we reminisce on life and lessons, rehash hurts and circumstances, remember disappointments and broken promises, and even replay betrayals… the list goes on. The coals of anger and hurt burn red-hot as we continue to sit around that campfire and ask questions of each other about life and spirituality. Stoking the fires of hypocrisy, we bundle up and stay by that campfire and gaze up at the stars of the sky and settle in for a long stay of the hurting heart.
Or maybe we see a friend struggling to wade through something impossible, like quicksand. The farther they wade into the saturated sand the harder it is for them to move forward or get out and we watch them start to sink. They had waded in on their own but our savior-complex got the best of us as we decided we were the right person to come to their rescue. We joined them in their struggle instead of offering to get them the appropriate help. We felt that we had enough fortitude and know-how and that their situation wouldn’t get us down too… and so we joined them. We followed them right into the quicksand of life and got stuck too. Often times we are the ones who found ourselves in quicksand, and then convinced our friends to join us in those moments…
And lastly some Christians like to invite other Christians to join their cesspool of festering bitterness – justifying it in a cloak of holiness. We start pointing our fingers at the things we feel are going wrong in life, in the lives of our friends, in this country, even in “the church”. Instead of improving our perceptions or circumstances we feel the need to bring more people to the cesspool party… but this infested pool of pride and divisiveness is a fast-growing infection. And sadly most people do not realize they have even joined the party until the infection takes a turn for the worse.
I should know. I have done all of these things. I have been camped out in my own unforgiveness. I have waded into the quicksand of despair (mine AND someone else’s) and promptly got myself stuck. I too have wallowed for years in a big ol’ cesspool of bitterness and excused it away as a quest for divine answers. I may have even installed a pool-side slide to make it look like a fun pool party!
Don’t get me wrong – I know that I both caused painful circumstances and been on the receiving side of those hurtful moments. As the saying goes “Hurt people hurt people.” Not that it’s an excuse – but it is insightful.
And as a Christian, I had to learn the hard way that my own lack of forgiveness for those life circumstances was holding me hostage. I was a prisoner due to my lack of forgiveness towards those who hurt me.
There I was – the basis of my faith as a Christian is built on forgiveness and grace. And I found myself stuck in my own quicksand of resentfulness.
And then… something shifted. When my word for the year became “FORGIVENESS” it was time for me to face the music. That year I made a list of people I knew I needed to find forgiveness for. While I needed to make amends with some people in-person I knew that wouldn’t be possible with others, for various reasons.
The simple act of writing some of those names on a piece of paper was difficult. But I committed the people on that list to God. I prayerfully sought God’s will and timing and trusted that He would orchestrate these conversations. I even asked for Him to reveal to me anyone I may have left off the list.
Recognizing that some people might not react well to hearing someone say “I forgive you, friend.” I trusted that God was working on their heart at the same time. I knew that good things were getting ready to happen!
And, just like God likes to do, He brought one of those people into my path within a very short period of time. There are no coincidences in life, right?! One day I was out shopping and saw one of the people on my list across the store – and my normal instinct was to hide or put down my things and leave. (In fact, that’s what I’d been doing for years.) But today was different. But my “word for the year” rang in my ear and I know I had to do something different.
Instead I said a quick prayer, and approached the person with a gentle spirit. I smiled. They smiled. We hugged. And God did a wonderful thing in the aisle of the store that day. There were tears, and hugs and a reconciliation that I never could have imagined possible. It was certainly not something I could have done without God’s grace in my life.
And there’s the primer for the rest of my story about my journey to forgiveness. I knew it was time to extend forgiveness to a long list of people who had deeply hurt me. Those red hot coals of bitterness had been smoldering long enough … it was time to turn over the soil and extinguish them once and for all.
Join me as we explore where YOU might be on your journey to forgiveness?