There have been some situations in my life lately where I have felt betrayed and very hurt. I've tried very hard not to let those feelings cloud my vision and to walk in forgiveness. Honestly though, it's been a rough road, and I have felt like I've had on the wrong shoes for the journey.
I've spent time in prayer (probably not equal to the amount of time that I've stewed in my justified frustration), but I have been trying. I laid in bed the other night, and my insides were churning as I was letting myself feel offended all over again. I began to remind my rational self over and over again that forgiveness isn't a feeling, but really a choice. I gained some sense of peace, at least enough to fall asleep.
As I was sleeping, I began to dream that I was at school. It was the end of the day and I was headed to my car to go to a bonfire that the school was hosting. As I was now nearing my destination, I saw three huge red barns bursting with flames. I had seriously underestimated the intensity of this bonfire! I looked at the smoke rising from the first barn, and I saw massive elephants. From another barn I saw a perfect and expansive number three. And then I woke up.
I dug out my book on dream symbolism. I looked up barns. I read..
a symbol for blessings.
I looked up fire-
Presence of God. Holiness of God.
Hmmm. What was God saying?
Invincible or thick-skinned
not easily offended
Wow! I'm really getting warmer.
The number three representing the trinity, the united force of God Himself - Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
And then...the light bulb.
God was telling me that he would teach me (school), purify and test me (fire), so that I would not be easily offended (elephants) and that through this refining, I would create room for His blessings (barns). And the only way I would be capable of such testing, was with God Himself (number three)!!!
Okay God, I get it. The choice to forgive just got a little easier, and already I can feel my skin getting a little thicker! It's nothing short of a miracle that God can speak such mysteries to my subconscious and I can wake up feeling cleansed, healed, and a lot more of His love for myself to be able to pass around!!
Listen to the soft mutterings of your heart. To the breath that was breathed into your lungs. To the quiet hum of silence. Sink into it.
Listen to the emotions that clutter your soul. To the questions elbowing at your mind. To the hurts that break you open in places you'd rather hide. Be quiet and go to those places.
Listen to what the bent of your will is. To the pull of your desire, to the cry of your heart. Listen in a way that ascends the mere silence. Rather, listen in a way that invites you to really hear. The secret to asking hard questions is being willing to answer them. Are you willing?
Lean in to the answers that you've made space to greet. Reach towards the deepest basement of self. Unveil yourself. Welcome it all.
Listen and breathe.
Listen and reach.
Listen and receive.
Let's attentively listen. Sound waves intersecting our anatomical ears, is not listening. It is hearing. It's a logistical fallacy. It's self-deception to think that the punctual attendance of hearing bears any weight.
Don't merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what the word says (James 1:22). God's word, His law, discovers the spots of sin in our lives. He is gracious to speak to us and to show us the blemishes of self. Vulnerability accompanies listening. We need to let the walls fall, drop the armor, see the corruption of our nature, the disorder of our hearts, and we need to own it.
When we spend time quieting ourselves and truly listening, we are making way for counsel and direction. We need to attend to what we hear, nurture it, and know that even though we are dark, we are loved so tremendously in spite of it.
God proposes that we call to him. He says, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things that you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3). Ask the questions, find where your soul lies, where your heart is bound, where you fall short. Ask of Him, and he will instruct you because he loves you, and he wants you free.
Assent to His word.
Obey and respond to His direction.
Listen to love.