Pour a little salt in the wound (forgiveness pt. 2)

I got an e-mail from one of my readers about my last blog post on forgiveness. Our stories are similar, it felt like I was reading an e-mail from myself a few years ago.

I started asking myself what the most valuable thing I’ve learned on this current road of forgiveness has been and I instantly knew.

Clean out your wounds along the way.

Keep the dirt out as much as possible.

Choose to be kind and love in the face of those who you’ve connected to your heartbreak.

Don’t pile on top of the hurt by acting rude, indifferent, or fake. Don’t embrace any opportunity to deepen the bitterness.

Start by immediately making your interactions with the people who’ve hurt you positive, loving, and pure. Even (and especially) if they don’t respond in the same way.

Keep the mess out. It’s hard, I know. It’s pouring salt in the wound. Every time you have to choose to love that person when you want just want to punch a wall, it stings. 

But you don’t want to find yourself finally healing from the initial injury only to realize you let the wound get infected by all the things that came after.

So leave your cold shoulder and eye-rolling at the door. Keep the wound clean.

It hurts now, but it will save you later down the road.

This is something that God spent years building in me. I’d be sitting with crossed arms and clenched teeth and I’d hear him whisper: Reach for a hug. Give a compliment. Offer them a cup of coffee.

I would sit there and squirm in my seat. I would tell God all the reasons why it was a bad idea. I would tell him how I shouldn’t because it wouldn’t feel genuine. But he’d say it over and over again: Love isn’t just a feeling, kid.

You love them, because it wouldn’t hurt so much if you didn’t.

So get up and do something with it. You have got to move. You have to move this seemingly impossible mountain with a little step of faith. You have to bring a stone (and it can even be a tiny one) and start rebuilding these burned bridges.

Salting that wound kept me alive.

If there’s one thing I’d tell myself when that whole process began is: it will be worth it. Not because it will produce miraculous and instantaneous results, but because it will teach you more about love than anything else. That passage about turning the other cheek won’t just be a nice little sentiment. That phrase will get so deeply rooted in you that before you know it, it will be the only way worth living.

But the deeper you want to be rooted in love, the more ground you have to break through. You’re going to have to dig and push. You are going to hit some rocks in your heart and in theirs. It’s not going to feel good, this loving in hard times is not a quick process.

This thing isn’t a sprint. Forgiveness isn’t even a marathon. It is more like a triathlon. It has different legs. You might get really good at one part, and then suddenly realize you’re entirely out of shape when it comes to another. Don’t lose focus. Don’t decide to stop going just because you can’t master it all at once.

It’s going to take time.

So, clean the wound along the way. Don’t let time scab this thing over while letting infection take root. Don’t deepen this thing with passive-aggressive comments, avoiding eye contact, or sarcastic stabs. Don’t let that pain become the first domino that starts knocking over everything else you’ve built with them.

It will hurt. You will want to avoid the pain that comes with keeping it clean. But when you get a chance, I promise you won’t regret pouring a little salt in your wounds.

 

 

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Lovely Letters: There Might Be More

I feel like I’m betraying the people I love if I move far away, but at the same time I feel like I need some independence and change. I don’t want to lose them, but I think I need to see what else is out there for me.

-K

Dear K,

When I decided to move to Georgia, it was just an experiment. I figured I would stay for the summer and test the waters. I decided that if I didn’t fall completely in love with this city, I’d just move back home.

I fell in love, K.

To be honest, it wasn’t really the city that romanced me and it still doesn’t give me butterflies, but I fell absolutely head over heels with who I am while living in it.

It took walking away from everything I’ve known. It took leaving home to realize that I am more than just that twelve year old small town girl who had braces, bad hair, good grades and decent basketball skills.

I think there’s more for you, K. Oh, and trust me, the people that are sewn permanently into your heart and soul will love you no matter what you decide. It will be painful, they’ll definitely cry, but they will send you off with hugs and prayers. You’ll see that they will always have open arms when you come back to visit.

I remember being so torn about my decision to move and finally, standing in my doorway, my Dad said something that’s stayed with me every step of this journey:

“You’re thinking about what you’ll miss if you go, but you have no idea what you will miss if you stay.”

That was all I needed, those words sparked a hope in my heart that said there might be more… if you want it.

Most days, I still have no idea what I’m doing here, but you know, that wasn’t why I really came. Sure, I hoped I would have a fated collision with my destiny, but I really came just to see what it would be like to ride without my training wheels.

I’ve spent months in other places, traveled to foreign countries. Yes, I lived with my sister in Apartment G, but I needed to go beyond that.

I didn’t just need to see the world, I needed to see who I was outside of the only piece of it I had ever called home.

I think it was honestly time for me to let somewhere else and someone else see what I bring to the table. I think we’ve got a lot to offer, K. You have things to offer others besides those in just your little corner of the universe.

You’re not betraying anyone by deciding to stretch your arms further and pull more people into your embrace. It doesn’t mean you’re letting go of the ones you already love, K. You can hold more than you think, your limbs are made to stretch farther than you can imagine.

There are also other people who need to squeeze you tight and leak some love on your weary bones. It’s okay to want some new faces, to experience the rush that comes with driving down unfamiliar streets and seeing the sun setting on a different stretch of horizon.

You’re not selfish, sweet girl. You’re an adventurer and you’ve got a restless heart and that isn’t always a bad thing. There may come a day when you’re ready to go back to that place you once called home, you may buy a little house on one of those streets you’ve come to know well. But for now, it’s okay to explore and add a little more to the beautiful life you already have.

You can do this, if it’s what you really want. If you mess up and it turns out to be a horrible mistake, you’ll only grow from it. You’ll learn more than if you only play it safe (and you’ll also have some good stories to keep in your pocket).

Risk isn’t a waste, but a lifetime of asking “what if?” is.

Don’t be afraid to take some chances and to take off your training wheels. The only way you’ll ever learn is to just start pedaling.

Ashlin

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I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Lovely Letters is a series that happens every Wednesday (well, at least once a week)! I’ve gotten such an amazing e-mail response from many of my readers and I try to respond to as many as I can directly; and some of them have inspired me to share thoughts and ideas on my blog. You guys seriously inspire me and what you’re going through is universal and I think other people need to hear that they’re not alone.

So… if you’re interested in inspiring the next Lovely Letters post, send me an e-mail and let me know what’s going on in your life. I absolutely love hearing from all of you!

E-mail:  ashlinkayh@gmail.com

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