Nested amidst story after story about men and how they thought and lived and interacted with God in long ago times, there is the story of a very interesting woman. Wife to Abraham, and drop dead gorgeous into her elder years, she has gotten a bad rap. It’s probably the business of Hagar and her son, and our assumption, from the perspective of our own culture, that she was motivated by envy. And we’d already judged, because she laughed when she overheard a man tell her husband that she would have a son when she was way past having children, and I guess we think she shouldn’t have had any residual feelings about a life lived without a blessing promised.
I really like her. In fact, she’s one of my heroes. She best of anyone has articulated a way of living that a favorite writer of mine once said was the opportunity that the angels envied of us. Nugh Nibley, long known for his straight-from-the-hip doctrinal observations in my faith, once said that this life is not about learning, because if we just want to understand things, more of that will happen in the first five minutes after we die than in our entire lives. What is really unique about mortal life is our ability to do two crucial things: repent, and forgive.
Sarah articulated this as, “The Lord judge between me and thee.” It was letting go, in the purest, most perfect sense. “I have communicated the situation to you, and you know how your choice is affecting me. What you do with it now is between you and God.” It is the one way to be truly free, because the only thing that holds us back in our growth is our persistent holding onto things that damage us. Like children holding hot coals, you’d think we’d fling them away from us. We don’t. We keep moving them from hand to hand, dancing with them. Repenting is putting away something that damages us, and forgiving is putting away something that damages us. I’m amazed at how the two are indistinguishable from one another.
I’ve been reading about co-dependency this evening. Here’s a quick run-down for those of you unfamiliar with the term. I’m convinced that repenting and forgiving are the key to healing codependent relationships. These relationships need surgical cuts in all the entanglements that have grown, and repenting and forgiving, “the Lord judge between me and thee,” are vital ways to value someone else, cease to control, and yet insulate against their control. They are also vital ways to take control of our lives and to live proactively instead of reactively.
Finally, they are a great way to get unstuck. Ever feel that way? A gnawing sense of dissatisfaction, a feeling that things aren’t right, that you want something but you don’t know what, that nothing is going right? I stood outside tonight pondering all these things in disgust, and then prayed to know how to be free of it. I looked up in the west at a beautiful evening star in a brilliant deep blue sky, and a shooting star fell across that shining planet. I’m a believer in the heavens nudging us with a , “Go on …” and I just said right out loud, “I wish to be free!”
Immediately I began feeling things that I hadn’t forgiven, tumbling one after another. At first they were couched in blame, but then they were just hot coals I was flinging away. I reached back out to God, as I often do in these conversations, and said, “Here. Take these.” Man, I felt so much lighter.
We can’t make ourselves regurgitate things that we need to forgive on some kind of schedule that we determine. They arise when they do, and we handle them then, like bits of debris from old wounds that make their way to the surface in their own time. But it isn’t any harder than a small surface wound to let them go, if we will.
“The Lord judge between me and thee.” Repent and forgive and be free. Way to go Sarah.