Monday, June 1, 2009

Forgiveness

[Warning: Wordy...with very few pictures]

I have thought long and hard about whether or not to write this here. It's rather personal and I've wondered if it's really anyones business but my own. I decided to write it anyway for a few reasons. One, I think it's valuable to write down lessons that God has taught you, if for no other reason than to be able to read them during times of struggle because, Lord knows, we aren't always doin' it right. Good to see when progress is made. Two, writing helps me process and put things into a complete story in my mind. And three, maybe someone else can benefit from what I've been through in some way. And if so, then somehow that helps me, too!

Now, some of you know me well and some of you only a little so I'll try and give as much info as I can without being super specific and turning this into a novel, while at the same time trying not to bore those who already know most of this story.

One of my very best friends was my roommate in college. Mireille. We instantly clicked on a lot of levels. We were both psychology majors, came from large(r) families, went through breakups, rebellion, good times and bad. Together. For a long time. We were a lot alike but different enough to still get along. :) She actually graduated a year before me ('99), but she stayed at Biola and entered Rosemead School of Psychology while I finished my last year. After I graduated I got married and started my new life as a wife and soon a mother. She stayed. She continued for years to earn her doctorate in psychology and begin a career. Though we walked two very different paths we still remained quite close. So close, that when I first found out my brother had died, she was the first person I called. (She knew Willie, since he went to Biola as a freshman my senior year.) Through those first awful hours she called me frequently as I attempted to drive from Medford, OR all the way through California that day and the next. I have almost no memory of that drive, but I remember her calling a lot. In fact she arranged my flight from Burbank, CA to get home while another friend (shout-out to Kasey) and Rand continued with all of our things to Phoenix. As soon as she could, Mireille got to Washington to be with me. It meant the world. It really did.

Now I have to back up for a bit. While Mireille had been diligently pursuing her higher education and establishing herself as a bonafied psychologist, she had little time for developing relationships. Perhaps she just didn't meet the right guy, but I always dreamed for her that one day she would be happily married, because I knew deep down she really wanted that. For about a year or so before my brother died, Willie spent a lot of time with a good friend named Jerry. Jerry was a single Christian guy, a tad older than my brother....a tad older than me actually and we adopted him for several family functions and hung out in the boat on the lake with him whenever he was around...which was often. I would often tell Jerry, "Jerry, you should meet my friend Mireille. I think you would like her. Too bad she lives in Texas." And on occasion I would tell Mireille, "I really think you would like my brothers friend, Jerry. Too bad he lives in Washington." After plans were set in motion for Rand and I to move to Arizona, I never, in a million years, thought that Jerry and Mireille would actually ever meet.

If you have put the two pieces together, you know now that they did indeed meet....under the worst of circumstances, in my opinion. There was a connection right away and they found themselves in a delicate situation trying to pursue getting to know each other while at the same time being surrounded by a bunch of messy, grieving people, who in no way were ready to watch love flourish as a result of the loss of our beloved Will.

I have always been a "quick to forgive" kind of person. Always. I don't hold grudges, I get over things quickly and move on and even forget when I have been wronged. However, in this situation, I couldn't do it. I kept trying, and trying, but I couldn't. Seeing them together, giddy with the excitement of their new relationship was eating at me. After a couple months I just had to remove myself from the way I was being hurt. I wrestled with this big time because I wanted her to be happy, but I felt soo hurt. Mireille and I no longer spoke. I felt like I didn't have the capacity to get over it, to move on, to "be there for her" while she continued dating and getting to know my brothers friend. I had a lot to deal with. I was going through so much. And emotionally I was raw, and pretty unavailable for quite a while.

I'll just go ahead and fast forward. Last November (or so) they got engaged. This was just under two years since they met. I continued processing their relationship, quietly in my head, trying to get a sense of whether or not I was okay with it yet. I would constantly pray that God would just allow the "okay" feelings to come. What's so bad about it anyway?
By the time they got engaged Mireille had missed such an important process in my life, I knew that if I couldn't be there for her, while she transformed from single to married, our relationship may never be able to get back to the way it was. I decided to "make contact". I wrote her an email to congratulate her on her engagement. Long story short, it began a series of short conversations (only email at first) that began to rebuild what had been lost.

Had I forgiven and forgotten? Not totally. But I had started something. I felt like I reached out in obedience even though I didn't totally feel ready. Slowly but surely God allowed some feelings of "okay-ness" to come. By the time I got invited to attend the wedding in Houston, I still wasn't sure I would go. I wasn't that okay! I felt happy for my friend. I really did. But my own selfishness continually welled up in me and all I could think was, "I don't care about them. I just want my brother back. I'm not ready for them to gain from what I have lost." Those thoughts are still with me to this day, but I keep reminding myself of a bigger and better God who knows what He's doing. A God who I trust....who brought all this about for His glorious purposes. And honestly, that helps me to feel better.
Despite my fear of my own emotions, I decided I should go to the wedding. I felt like it was a way that I could demonstrate God's love and grace, that although I had been deeply hurt (be it her fault or merely my own weakness) I knew I could love her anyway....even though being there meant pain for me. I could do it.

This is already long enough so I won't hash out the entire weekend, but now I'm home. I feel like I did something really big. I'm still processing the whole thing. Almost everyone there, who knew anything about the situation (which was basically everyone), pulled me aside at different times during the weekend and hugged with me and cried. They thanked me for coming, and knew it meant so much to Mireille and Jerry, and that they knew it must have been so hard for me to be there. Nothing could have meant more than that.

As I sat in my lonely pew, just me, during the ceremony, I reflected on how I had even ended up sitting there....watching these two be married. I wondered had they met another way if Willie would have been there with me....or if he would have disowned Jerry for "stealing" Mireille who he totally had a crush on. :) I wondered if he could see us, or if it even mattered in the eternal scheme of things. I don't know how it couldn't? I just witnessed two people make a covenant with God. The same Living God that Willie stands in the presence of this very moment. Makes you think a bit.

I've been thinking a lot about what forgiveness even means when you really try to act it out in your life. I mean, I understand the concept that while God forgave us, we too should forgive each other, but how do you? How do you stop feeling hurt? For me, this weekend, I think I learned that in part, forgiveness can almost be measured by the amount of joy with which you can love the very person that has hurt you. On one hand, I feel incredible, deep pain that my brother is gone and that in the midst of that my friend chose to pursue a relationship that was hurtful to me and in the process was unable to be there for me during the worst moments of my life. On the other hand, I can let it all go. In letting go I can joyfully celebrate with her the goodness in her life. I think God can grow even the smallest step toward forgiveness.

I'm just going to go ahead and stop rambling about it all, because it's becoming a bit confused in my head. Basically, I did a hard thing this weekend, but I knew it was the right thing. And I'm pretty sure I can already see God's blessings in lots of different ways.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:9,10

8 comments:

Kristi said...

This was VERY good, Kaylee. Of course, as usual, you wrote about what I was churning in my head and heart today as I mindlessly weeded my flower beds. Unlike you, I am a horrid grudge holder. I'd like to say it's my crazy ability for remembering things, especially those that are linked to emotion but the reality is there's still intense emotion linked to many memories and yes, if I had to pick out my biggest character flaw... that would be it.

Anyway, this is already getting long but thank you for writing about it tonight you said some things I needed to hear... really needed to hear.

I'm glad you made it home safe and ended up feeling good about making the trip!

The Raudenbush Family said...

Sweet. This is what I wanted to hear about last night and couldn't spend time talking about it. Love the post. Challenges me quite a bit regarding a broken relationship I have/had in the past.
Kelly

Anonymous said...

Good job, that is really that can be said and needs to be said.
Uncle Bubba

rachel said...

i have read and reread your post like 5 times now (and I'll probably read it a bunch more, especially if you don't post anything else for awhile), and I've been with you this whole time, knowing the whole story from the beginning, and still I keep reading it over and over.

i am so impressed with you, my sister. you have one of the biggest hearts i know, and i know how hard this past weekend must of been for you. (it would of been hard for me and i wasn't nearly as attached as you were) i love how transparent you are and that you trust and allow God to mold you, even though it seems like He's doing nothing.

love you sister!
(and i also love that you wrote a post that royal didn't have a fishing come back for)

thoughts of an elbow said...

that verse at the end is one of my favorites!

lady steel said...

I feel a little wierd coming in here to comment but I have to say how much this touched my heart Kaylee. You are a treasure. You're transparency and honesty in this situation have made my heart full or love and compassion for you.

thoughtlife said...

Thanks for sharing your beautiful heart with such eloquence, inspiration, and love. You really have an impact on my soul with these deep blog posts of yours.

love you
Rand

Summer said...

Kaylee-
Thank you for being so real. This blog spoke to my own heart about forgiveness...and how different it can look and how so difficult it can be. Thank you.