Sunday, January 16, 2011

To Forgive and Be Forgiven

I was never raised in a church-going family. Well. . .we did go. About once a year. Always, on Easter.

We'd dress up in something new (because Easter always demanded something new--even if it was a nice new bow for my hair or a mini-me suit jacket for my gangly little brother). And we'd pile in the AMC Hornet after the Easter baskets had been ravaged and go to some kind of middle-of-the-road Methodist church. We'd sit in unfamiliar pews among unfamiliar people and follow along as best we could. It always seemed pretentious to me, even as a little kid. That we were just pretending for that day to be some other family. A family who always wore their Sunday best and dutifully got up for church every week. But that wasn't really us at all.

Anyway. . .so not much of a church goer growing up.

I did start going to church pretty regularly after my mother died. I was in England for the summer and started going to the ancient, small church where my grandmother had been married and where my aunt was a regular. I loved everything about it: the smell of the incense, the bells, the Vicar who told stories about his time living in India and how those stories always seemed relevant to something I was going through in my own, ordinary life, the mass sung rather than spoken, the soothing ritual of the same words sung week after week. I loved the time to sit on old, old wood or kneel on ancient stone pavers and share my troubles with God. Unburden myself.

I felt like God really listened to me there.

More recently, I started going to church again. It's not as old as my lovely English church, but it still feels familiar to me. Comfortable. Going there feels like a little oasis of peacefulness in the middle of an often crazy week.

Lately, even though I truly believe I have so many good things going on in my life, I've begun to feel resentful. Resentful that my house is a mess and I seem to be the only one who cares. Resentful that I rarely have a moment to myself between, home, family and work. Resentful that the path of others often seems so much easier. Resentful that so many of the struggles in my life I seem to have had to face alone.

And the truth is, I'm tired of being resentful. I'm annoyed with myself that I can get so riled up by undisturbed dust and dirt. I'm tired of keeping a mental tally of my grievances and slights. Like my extra weight, I feel like I just take everything on, the unkind words, the annoyances, the general disorder of my life and carry it with me wherever I go. Holding tight to it like some kind of badge. Some proof of something I'm not even sure of.

And in the past few months, I feel every ounce of it strapped across my back and dragging around behind me. I just want to find a way to snip the cords that keep me attached to all of it. I want so much to stop being so crabby--especially with the people I love the most--and just live more fully and peacefully in the moment.

And so, this Sunday morning I made a trip to my little oasis of calm.

I laid it all out. I asked for help. I asked to be unburdened. I asked to forgive and to be forgiven. I asked to not get so irritated by the dust and disorder (though having the dust magically disappear would be great, too, but it's clear, God has more pressing issues to focus on).

I asked for God to take the list from me and take over record keeping--or not, as he sees fit.

I left feeling a bit lighter. The conversation has been broached. But there is still a whole lot more talking to do. I hope he's listening. . .

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