In the middle of what I felt like an oh-so-burdensome trial (it really was something very heavy), I made the worst possible mistake: I let out my anger and pain on the people around me. My harsh words were directed in particular to friends who supported me in faith. Out of my confusion and anguish, I craved love, but was showing my deep need for love through an explosive temperament. I blamed everybody else for my unhappiness. And I did not think twice about what hurt I was inflicting on them; I only thought about how terrible my life was and I wanted them to feel my pain.
As human beings, we fail in our relationships. As I tried to find peace and re-center my thoughts and actions on the goodness of God, I felt little relief. I was angry and didn’t feel true forgiveness in my heart for those who had hurt me. I thought I could get my life together without the help and true relationships with my friends and family, but oh boy was I mistaken. This gave me the insight to ask a crucial question: how essential is peace with the people in my community for my spiritual growth?
I eventually realized that I needed help to process what I was feeling in a healthy way. I couldn’t do it alone. I began attending classes called “ESPERE: School of Forgiveness and Reconciliation”. The teachers of the classes always promoted two key things: peaceful ends to conflict, and true rest in your heart. I was taught that we need to learn to understand the people who hurt us, to keep in mind that they have their own yearnings and are in their own emotional states of life. Forgiveness benefits communities and society as a whole.
Learning the art of forgiveness led me to contemplate three things: the person of Jesus Christ, my spiritual life, and my friend-family community. #framily
Jesus Christ is my friend, but I have been that friend who sometimes does things behind His back (although He already knows what I’m thinking… joke’s on me). In spite of how unreliable, flakey, and worldly I am, He chooses not to give up on me. He fights for me. He doesn’t need to prove anything to us, YET He proves to us we are worth fighting for. He proves to us we are worth dying for.
I’ve experienced the intense longing to give up on fighting sin, but overcoming that adversity leads to our greatest spiritual achievements
So how do I take all I’ve learned and apply it to my relationships? Well, simply by realizing that I need to put effort into those relationships too. I need to bring peace into every situation, because my relationship with my community (both church and secular) affects my relationship with God.
During that difficult time in my life, I felt a particular anger toward one very good, faithful friend. Our friendship was once filled with great joy, and we shared so many wonderful memories. But then, I messed up. I damaged our friendship through my lack of emotional control, and she began avoiding me. I wanted her to know that I was sorry. I wanted the opportunity to make things right. The lack of union between her and I affected me deeply.
I harbored hurt, anger, and resentment. One Sunday in the middle of Mass, the thought of her crossed my mind and I could feel the rush of anger fill my chest. NOT the best thing to be feeling during the HIGHEST form of Catholic prayer.
The anger grew. I remember dreaming that I was praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament and suddenly she was there with me. I knew God was asking me to let go of the anger, but I thought I could just shove the situation aside and just told myself, “oh what a ‘grudge-mental’ girl. I don’t need her. I’ll just be the better Catholic and move on.”
I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear that that tactic did not help.
I knew that in order to experience peace in my own heart, I couldn’t just feign indifference. I NEEDED to forgive. I needed to forgive her for not wanting to forgive me (wrap your mind around that!). And I managed to wrestle through that with much time and prayer.
Eventually, we began the healing process of cleansing and rebuilding our friendship.
Jesus is peace. Fostering peace in my relationships has helped my relationship with Him. We need community! May we have the courage not to let indifference satisfy our hearts, but rather let forgiveness be what puts our hearts to rest.