Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Forgiveness: Losing: The Screaming and the Silence

"That's what forgiveness sounds like: screaming and then silence." - Carl from Llamas with Hats [Google at your own risk; you have been warned, seriously.]
That's actually kind of what it felt like to me as I tried to control my anger at the federal Office of Worker's Compensation Programs.  It took me misunderstanding the new 10th Avenue North song to remind me again that if I don't forgive, I'm the one who loses out and that it really doesn't matter if they're sorry or not.  My duty is to forgive.
"Father, forgive them; they know not what they do."  - Jesus
A couple of years ago when I was feeling discouraged and helpless and frustrated after a failed appeal, I tried to experiment with this phrase as a way to remind myself to forgive, but I couldn't really do so because, honestly, it felt kind of sacrilegious.  To compare my situation with Christ's on the cross just seemed wrong on all kinds of levels.  The metaphor fell apart for me, and then I felt even more guilty.

When the new 10th Avenue North song "Losing" started getting airplay, I totally misinterpreted the snatches of it I heard.
"Father, give me grace to forgive them 'cause I feel like the one losing." -Tenth Avenue North "Losing"
When I don't let go of the bitterness, it feels like they're winning, like they're beating me, since they're on my mind more than they should be.  When I don't forgive, especially in this situation where the offender doesn't care at all about me or my feelings, I'm the one who is harmed, and I'm doing it to myself.  They're not hurt at all; they don't know or care or lose sleep.

And so this time, when I lost yet another appeal and had to read through a letter wherein the hearing representative sounded smug and triumphant, as though he were defeating the forces of evil with his not-quite-solidly-logical arguments rather than dooming a legitimately injured worker to ten more years of chronic pain (that's how long it will take me to pay off the debt I went into to get the master's degree that allowed me to get a job that can accommodate my disability; after that, maybe I'll be able to afford to continue the search for pain-relief), when I got the appeal letter riddled with incorrect information, assumptions, and slurs on my character, I really was able to let go in a way I hadn't before.  I was still a bad human being to be around for a bit, but even as I sat making notes about the things that were ridiculous, in case the lawyer cared, I really wasn't bitter in the personal way I have been before.

Maybe I've matured?  Maybe I've just given up on them ever caring.  Maybe I've just lowered my expectations sufficiently.  Whatever the reason, I have let go.  Forgiveness, while it doesn't feel like floating away on a cloud of joy, at least feels better than grudge-building and -bearing.  So thanks to not understanding the lyrics of a song, I have embraced the silence after the screaming.

Sigh . . .

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