Gift of Forgiving VI: Letting Go
How do you forgive someone for something he had no control over?
“Want to talk about it?” she suggested.
Turning my gaze to the window as the air was sucked out of the tight room, “Not really.”
She slid her glasses back up her nose staring at the computer screen. “The doctor made a note that you were visibly distraught after receiving the diagnosis.”
“Must have broken my poker face.”
A couple hours earlier, I sat before the doctor retelling my story for what seemed like the millionth time. After seeing over a dozen doctors and numerous therapists, I had acquired a pretty good poker face.
See, you don’t want to seem too happy or too sad. You have to watch your body language and mannerisms. Answer the ‘scale of one to ten’ questions with slight optimism. Oh, and don’t mention God or your faith too much. Otherwise, they start making more notes, scheduling even more visits, and prescribing more drugs.
I know. I know. This sounds counter-productive to getting well, but navigating the mental health world is complicated stuff. The brain is the most complex organ and treating it isn’t easy-peasy. After a dozen doctors and multiple treatment plans that all failed, you start to grow weary.
You start to lose hope.
At some point, you realize you are just a number in a countless pool of patients. It works like an assembly line at a cheap manufacturer with little quality control. But every now and then you will get someone who notices the anomaly and pulls it aside. Someone that holds your hand a little longer or takes you out for some fresh air. Someone that pays a little more attention to your case.
If you are fortunate, you learn to find the doctors and therapists that you trust. My private doctor told me early on, the diagnosis and treatment of the brain is like throwing a dart at a dartboard. I kept him, because he’s honest.
But on this particular day with this particular doctor you could tell he was a number counter. Maybe he didn’t want to be that way. Maybe it’s just what the job demanded. On this particular day, I broke my poker face. I told my story as he typed away. The software coupled with the M.D. embroidered on his white coat, gave me my seventh diagnosis – the one that would stick. And the one that would sting.
“You’re a rare bird,” he said.
“Not the first time I’ve heard that.”
Then he gave me the long-winded diagnosis that blankets all symptoms.
“Oh.” I shook my head in acknowledgment. Took my paperwork from his hand and headed back to the waiting room.
After a long wait, the next step on the assembly line was my thirty minutes with the therapist.
She prodded again “So -- do you want to tell me why this diagnosis makes you upset?”
“I never wanted to be like him.”
I said it out loud. The exact words that came to mind when the number counter doctor gave me his diagnosis. The words I repeated over and over again as I waited to be called back to the tight room.
“Like who? Your father?”
“You’re not – you’re not like him. You have the ability to control this disease instead of letting it control you. And as a believer like me, you can have hope in the One that does control everything.”
I liked her. She was one of the good ones. She talked about her faith. She told me that after a long wait, God gave her the perfect gift. She reminded me that He rewards the faithful. She reminded me that our plan is not always the same as His plan – but it is always good. We just have to wait. We have to hold on until fruition.
She was right you know. It didn’t happen overnight, but I slowly released the control. I held onto hope. I cried out to the One that could take this from me. Over and over again.
And in His time, he did. He put me in the hands of the right people. He gave me a doctor that prescribed a different treatment plan from all of the others. One that finally worked.
He gave me the perfect gift. Restoration.
So how do you forgive a person for something he had no control over? How do you achieve restoration?
You start by forgiving yourself. You forgive yourself for placing a God-sized weight on the person’s shoulders for something he had no control over. Jesus wants you to carry your brother’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), not place more on him.
My dad never intended to pass down his condition to me. He couldn’t read the future and determine that this child out of the others would win the genetic lottery.
But God knew I would put the blame on my father. After all someone needs to shoulder the fault when things go the wrong way. He knew that I would feel nothing but contempt for my father.
Contempt even though my father was laid to rest many years ago.
My inheritance went unappreciated.
God knew that I would hate myself for feeling this way, because His children are filled with love not hate. Hate is unnatural for a daughter or son of the King. It makes you feel like a fish out of water, gasping to breathe.
In frustration, I said out loud how much I hated my Dad, because he did this to me. When you say it out loud, it amplifies the emotion. Saying it out loud, makes it real.
“He didn’t do this to you. He doesn’t have that kind of control.” My husband responded with the correct words, particularly one word – control.
Yep, control – a single word laced in arsenic. My sticky fingers gripped tight to control. The tighter I held on, the more things seemed to explode.
But our Jesus is relentless in his pursuit of us. He showers us with grace, mercy and patience in his teachings. He pried my fingers one by one from the control. He showed me that truly trusting means releasing control. And then trust leads to freedom.
He never gave up on me. And he won’t give up on you if you seek Him.
Remember, forgiveness is multi-faceted.
It’s not automatic.
And it only works when you release control and let go.