Serenity and Forgiveness
News Flash: I'm not perfect. Now I realize that this may come as less of a shock to you than it does me, just being honest. I am a Type 1 on the Enneagram, which means I am a "Moral Perfectionist." Basically, if you were to look for an image of a Type 1, you would find my face staring right back at ya. I am the poster child for a Type 1. However, just because I am a "perfectionist" doesn't mean I am perfect, which, like I said a few sentences above, comes as a shock, I know. I tend to think that my way is the right way, that I can be in control of any given situation, and that how I think about things and view them is pretty darn close to perfect.
Aye yai yai...self-introspection is hard work and, in most cases, is quite humbling.
Because Type 1s struggle with wanting to be in control and believe that their way is the perfect way, I have made it my goal to memorize the Serenity Prayer..."God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." In fact, my one word for 2018 has been Serenity. Truth be told, my husband more or less picked this word for me when he hand-painted the word Serenity on an old piece of barn wood and gave it to me for Christmas. I got it Babe, thanks, I can take a hint!
As a Type 1, serenity is not my strong suit. Since the start of 2018 with serenity as my banner, I'd say I am 1 for 4 when it comes to approaching a situation and taking the high road, aka the serenity path. For example, just last week, there was a situation where I felt control slipping from my hands and instead of taking deep breaths and repeating the serenity prayer, I lost it and sadly in front of my son.
I took him in for a routine dentist appointment and as they were wrapping things up, the dental hygienist asked me to come back and take a look at his X-rays. The dental hygienist pointed out that he had three cavities and one quite severe, which would require more than just a filling. My son is basically Buddy the Elf from the movie and would eat sweets all day everyday, but for the most part he is good about taking care of his teeth. The Dentist came in and reassured me that this wasn't just because he loves sweets, although that's a factor, but that it has a lot to do with what was going on when his teeth were calcifying.
We get ready to check out and have to schedule the first of a series of visits to take care of all the cavities. I just happened to ask how much our next visit would be and I almost passed out right then and there. Immediately all these numbers and dollar signs start flashing in my mind (I am the budget keeper in the house). I was not prepared for how much everything would cost once it's all said and done. We get in the car and I immediately call my husband and start ranting and raving about the cavities and the amount of money it's going to cost and I am all but about to have a full on freak-out session when I look in the review mirror and see my son taking it all in and hanging on every word I am saying. It was too late, I had already said too much and my serenity was nowhere to be found.
We get home and I literally feel sick to my stomach. My 6-year-old son is now carrying a weight that he should never have to carry at his age, that of money and financial responsibility. I apologize over and over to him and reassure him that it's not a big deal, that mama and daddy will figure it all out.
Can I tell you something? I beat myself up over that for several days. I have replayed the whole situation over and over in my head and all the ways I could have gone about it differently. But here's the reality: I can't go back and undo what I did or erase what I said, but I can decide if I am going to allow it to haunt me or let it go. I get to decide if I will continue to allow what happened hold me hostage to my own guilt, or allow myself to be set free.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” -Lewis B. Smedes
My husband preached a message on anger and forgiveness this past weekend. Afterward he said it wasn't a fun message to preach, but I reminded him that anger and forgiveness aren't the lightest of topics to discuss on a Sunday morning, but oh-so-necessary, especially if we want to see people set free, myself included. I realized that I needed to forgive myself. I needed to let go of the condemnation I had placed on myself after the cavity fiasco.
This isn't the first time that something like this has happened and I know with certainty that it won't be the last. But I want to offer you some practical ways that you can forgive others and even yourself if need be.
1- Name Who: Who wronged you? Who do you need to forgive? In my case, it's myself.
2- Identify What: What did they take from you? In my case, I was the one doing the taking and it wasn't so much that I took anything from my son, but I did misplace responsibility on him. Responsibility of a financial burden that was not his to bear.
3- Send it Away: Write it down on a piece of paper and burn it or tie it to a balloon and literally send it away. Whatever it is, do something that has you physically sending it away and thus setting yourself free.
Whether it's "mom guilt" (yes, that's a real thing!), wrong-doing from someone who has hurt you, the need to forgive yourself, or a hurt you can't overcome, press through to forgive and discover serenity just on the other side.
Serenity and Forgiveness is ENTRY TEN in our Beneath the Surface blog series. Did this message speak to your heart? It would thrill us if you'd share it with the women under your influence and other ministry wives.
Lindsey Cunningham is a small town girl who gets a lot of strength from her deep South Carolina roots. She is the wife of a pastor and is stepping into a calling to encourage other pastors’ wives. Her three kiddos keep her on her toes and are her greatest teachers. For Lindsey there is nothing better than a house full of people and a table full of finger foods. She has a terrible green thumb, but loves the outdoors. Most mornings you can find her in her sacred blue chair with her nose in a book and her heart open to God. She has a growing passion for helping women bloom where they are planted and not shy away from the “hard and holy” things. Follow her on Instagram @confessionsofapastorswife and Facebook, and check out her connection through Open Door Sisterhood.