love-the ultimate epiphany (or why I believe in God)

I think I have spoken before about my mom's second husband...who was abusive...who I have forgiven...and who I had contemplated attempting a relationship with. Hoping I could show him what love looks like. Agape love. unconditional love.

All of which was derailed when I went back home and the memories came flooding back, leading to a weight loss stall and then the realization that I was still angry.
Leading me to get around to forgiving again.

Whoever said forgiveness was easy was an idiot.1

I doubt any one ever said forgiveness was easy.
I think true forgiveness has to come from a place of empathy.
And I think I crossed that threshhold today on the way back from the gym.
I was driving back and thinking, when I finally realized what had been holding me back from reaching out to Duane all this time.
I feared that as I gave I would expect something in return and be disappointed.
You see, Duane and I have been through periods of near reconciliation and then the ultimate disappointment of him reverting to previous behavior. 
I finally realized something.
You can give unconditional love, but if the other person refuses to recieve it...it is a gift that lies unopened.
I know in my heart of hearts Duane simply doesn't know how to recieve love.
He attempts to utilize any leverage as a way to gain sympathy, or exert control.
And true love not only expresses sympathy and encouragement...it tells the truth.
And in any relationship, honesty and love go hand in hand.
And the moment I was honest...that would be the end of the relationship.
Duane was raised in an abusive environment.
I don't think he has ever seen a pure and true act of love.
I was lucky enough that while I lived in an abusive environment for a while, I had love demonstrated to me.
I watched my mom show her love through acts of sacrifice...like getting up at 3 in the morning to go to work to provide for us...sewing our clothes and cleaning our home till late at night to provide a HOME.
While my mom failed in some areas (as all of us do)
I at least got to see love demonstrated...
And now I will talk about a dream I had.
The greatest love I have ever experienced and will ever experience is God's love.
I h ave felt God's presence since I was little.
I have always believed. I can't remember a time when I didn't...
Until I went to Europe and made friends of varying faiths, and wanted to make sure I wasn't 'brainwashed'.
*as someone had implied*
I started reading eastern philophies...I read about the hindus, the buddhists, the muslims, the mormons, the atheists, the agnostics, judaism, about why I should believe in God..why I shouldn't.
This lasted for over a year. 
And at the end of the year, I was more confused than when I started.
Then one night I went to sleep and had this dream.
It is still vivid. 
In my dream  I was standing on the edge of a huge lake. 
It was night time and a full moon and before me stretched a dock jutting out into the water.
I walked out onto the dock, it was a long one..about a quarter mile out...and I sat down at the very end. I felt suddenly alone, so I looked back and the dock had disappeared except for the portion I was sitting on.
The moon was full and my feet were dangling in the water...
It was beautiful and I thought...I'll worry about how to get back later."
Then all the sudden I felt this warmth behind me...and this light was just..
bright...the brightest, warmest light..and it wasn't just light.  It made me feel very very peaceful, and loved.
But I didn't turn around because I felt I couldn't.
And over my shoulder came a pair of scissors.
And this voice said...."cut the fingers off your right hand'.
I said "That's the hand I draw with."
He said "I know, just do as I say...trust me."
II took the scissors and did it..one by one I cut the fingers off  my right hand.
There was no pain.
I watched them fall into the water.
Then over my shoulder he said "all my disciples know my voice...and those who lose their life for my sake will find life." 
Then over my shoulder comes a piece of cloth and I tie it around my hand like he told me to....
and when I unwound it, my fingers were back. 
And he said "You have to believe it, to see it."
And then he was gone and the dock was back.
Then I woke up I was crying.
I have never doubted it since.    

I had to let God in.
To be loved you have to let yourself be loved...then you can love in return.
imagine never allowing love in.
Never feeling loved.
Never letting go of the anger and fear long enough to love.
If that isn't enough to make me feel empathy, nothing is.
It reminded me of this:
1 corinthians 13:1-13
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

So, I think I can show him compassion, empathy and honesty...
Like the choice I had, to let love in or block it out...that isn't my job.
That's his.
Have a great night guys....



Alexia @ Dimple Snatcher said...

This is such a beautiful post, Christ! I agree: Forgiveness is very hard for me, too. I don't know what it is about holding on...Maybe it's that it gives us an excuse to stay stuck in our ways. Blame is kind of comforting.

I think your faith is beautiful. People have tried to question my faith in God, too. Some even call it silly. But we all have faith, it's just that we have it in different things.

Thanks for sharing, Chris! I've missed reading blogs!

Deb Willbefree said...

Thank you. Deb

MargieAnne said...

Thank-you for sharing this special dream and expressing it beautifully. I was drawn right into it as though it was my dream too. I love the way God reaches out to meet us just as we are with the perfect message for our own heart.



downsizers said...

Well said. I don't have enough faith to be an atheist. Thank you for this beautiful, well-written post.

F. McButter Pants said...

I beleive! He knows us and He loves us. Pure love. I never know what I'm going to get when I visit. Another thoughtful post. Thanks.

hopefulandfree said...

I'm not really a believer but more of someone-who-hopes and trusts that the universe is somehow ordered rather than purely random and chaotic. I too, however, believe that love is the greatest human aspiration, value and action. So, maybe a different kind of believer?

Also, what a powerful dream you describe!

I too recently wrote about a dream I had that resulted in some major changes in my actions and perceptions. ("why i do these ambivalent uncertainties") Spirituality takes many forms.

Robin said...

First, the forgiveness thing with Duane is an excellent reminder that we have no control over what others do and don't do. We can only control what we do. We can forgive. They can accept it or not. We don't control that part. Some people simply don't know how to receive. You can pray that he learns, but it isn't your job to get in there and be the one try and get that message through. And, secondly, that is a very interesting dream. So vivid. I think you got the point.

Juli's Journey said...

Very inspiring post. I totally understand the difficulty of forgiving someone who has hurt you dearly. I too have been hurt by someone who didn't know any better. I still have to deal with him because he is the father of my child. I have learned that I can forgive him and have empathy, but I am still going to protect my daughter from having the same experience. It is a juggling act, but it is much easier with forgiveness.
Thanks for sharing your story.

Hanlie said...

I am deeply moved by this post. Thank you for sharing.

Forgiveness... I don't think it's ever easy. And I don't think it's a one time act - it's more like a practice. Since I started looking at it that way, it has actually become easier for me.

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

Christine- your clarity is intriguing and inspiring. I've never had such a concrete relationship with God, but I have certainly been blessed with mercy and the huge gift of enlightenment.

I didn't even realize it- but I used to believe that if I changed, then others around me would also change. Now I see that I needed to change simply because that was for the best. Not because I would get anything out of it or others would see me differently, just so that my place in this world would be meaningful and positive. And I don't get to make it so others will change along with me.

But the idea that I could be honest about all of this is interesting to me. Putting yourself out there and being honest is so risky. It goes against the 'rules of messed up families'. Honesty in these families is like garlic to a vampire.

Yet if you can't be honest, then there probably isn't real love there after all, is there?

Ms. Chunky Chick said...

Chris this was a beautiful post and show the strength that you have.

outdoor.mom said...

what an awesome post!! forgiveness is a difficult thing - just when we think we have forgiven, those old feelings crop up. I struggle too, but never stop asking God to help me fully forgive. As you remember, we can't be forgiven unless we ourselves choose to forgive :-) Wow with the dream too!! Maybe thats why God has blessed your blog so much!!

Mr Lonely said...

thanks for sharing this wonderful post... =D
Mr Lonely from www.lonelyreload.com ~ XD

Miss April said...

I am a new follower. This post is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Putz said...

hey miss april, in the past you would have had to string along with a person who was counting of all things, calories<><>now yopu get some of the preacher in chris which in my opinion is better than her weight thing<><>i just don't know however how she could have studied mormonism and not converted<>><,.it takes all kinds i guess

I Pull 400 Watts said...

I'm a buddhist, and I love quotes of all kinds, so here you go :)

He abused me, he struck me, he overcame me, he robbed me' -- in those who do not harbor such thoughts hatred will cease.
(Dhammapada 1.3-4)

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

bbubblyb said...

Great post Chris that hit home with me for sure especially the part about "and true love not only expresses sympathy and encouragement...it tells the truth. and in any relationship, honesty and love go hand in hand. and the moment I was honest that would be the end of the relationship" I find that true with several people in my life. I've come to just accept I can love them without a real relationship with them and that's ok.

Thanks for your comment yesterday it made me laugh when I needed a good laugh. I was actually talking to Mike yesterday about the new boobs and how at some point I would have to get them out or be an old lady with them, now that would be funny, think of that in heaven all us old folks with fake boobs lol.

rebecca said...

What an amazing dream. You were touched by the hand of God at that moment. It shows such strength and such selfless generosity of spirit for you to forgive. Forgiving sometimes is easy; other times not. It all depends I believe on the extent of the crime. But when you forgive, your heart is always much more at peace. Thank you for this....

CarlyWeb said...

I am overflowing with powerful emotions reading this. Thank you so much for sharing yourself like you have. I am going to share this with others....great stuff!