Hardship brings with it an unwelcome guest that stays much longer than the original suffering: a new and unfamiliar set of personal-connection tools. Life difficulties are hard not just because of the initial situation, but also because moving through dark suffering changes relationships and the way you interact with people, whether you like it or not. I was just marveling at how grief is not a one-time experience but an ongoing spiritual journey while managing an internal battle with myself, processing a bunch of recent conversations that were really hard and hurtful for me. They were challenging not because there was anything wrong with the others involved, but because I have suffered and then because of this I am different. Healthy, encouraging, refreshing relational connections for me happen under a very different set of rules than they might for someone else.
I live in the real world, and I am blessed with people all around me, so I connect with many others for work, fun, church, ministry, and community projects. Sometimes this blessing is a challenge to my heart – all this connecting means that, by default, I have to do a lot of forgiving. And it’s forgiving for things I can’t ask an apology over, wiping clean my heart’s slate of these very real offenses that will never be recognized as such by anyone else. I’m in the middle of a huge chunk of this right now. It feels like I have been doing this for a long time, and it is easy to grow quite weary.
But natural weariness isn’t the defining factor here; I’m a Christian, which means the gospel is always relevant to my life and there is supernatural strength accomplishing what I cannot. I read the Psalms and know God’s mercy is over all that He has made. So I have to remind myself these moments of salty-wound-rubbing and salty-tear-spilling are all covered by that mercy, preaching to my own heart that this is part of why the Lord has compassion on us, why he suffered and saved. His clemency is entirely superior over any of these perceived wrongs, and I need it extended to me even more than to any of this stuff going on around me. His mercy is over me, and them, and those flippant words, and the abundance of flippant words I’ve carelessly spilled, and my sadness, and all this every-day experience of the Fall.
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.
The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his work.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever.
-Psalm 145, esv.