Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Envelope

I want you to think about someone.  Think about the person who gets on your nerves the most.  The person who criticizes you, belittles you, maybe puts you down now and again....that's who I want you to think about.  You walk away when you see them coming or if you HAVE to spend time with them, you grit your teeth and bear it and count the hours until the gathering is over.  Have you thought of your person?  I have, or at least I've thought of the person who used to make me feel that way.  My mother-in-law.

One day she sent us an envelope, a rather large envelope stuffed with papers.  John looked them over and set them aside but didn't comment on what they were.  I moved them here and there and finally opened the envelope and read the stack of papers inside.  I read and read and slowly the scales fell from my eyes and I was changed.

Imagine that person who irritates you.  Imagine they had the opportunity to sit down with a counselor and for years, they poured out their heart to that person.  Imagine that they went home and wrote down everything they shared with the counselor.  Now, imagine them sending it to you....the person who grits her teeth when she sees them coming....the person whose heart is bitter and hard toward them out of a sense of self protection.

Pandora had a box and in my case, Irene had a manila envelope.  All of her pain and suffering, loss and despair came spilling out on those pages.  I read of a struggling marriage and of miscarriages.  Divorce and despair were followed by a slow descent into a mental illness.  Her children were lost to her for a while as she struggled to climb back from the abyss and she wondered if she would ever live with them again as their mother.

I couldn't put those pages down and as I finished the last one, I realized that the woman who had caused me so much pain over the years was suffering as well.  I saw her with new eyes and at last I was able to understand why she had held so tightly to her tightly because she had already lost him once and didn't want to lose him again.  I cried as I put the evidence of her brokenness back into the envelope and prayed to the Lord right there that I could love her the way she needed and the way I should have loved her all along.

I'm thinking about YOUR person, the one you have trouble loving.  I'm thinking about the envelope arriving at YOUR house and YOUR chance to read about their pain and brokenness.  Do you think it will make a difference at all?  The only thing I know is that I was called to change and love her, even when it was tough.  I was called to look into someone's heart and see them as God sees them.  I'm thankful I had the envelope and the chance to love better.

I Peter 4:8 
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing story. Thanks for sharing and reminding us that everyone has a past that can drive their motives and choices. It can be so easy to see that when we are ministering to someone, but not as easy to see when we are the ones being adversely impacted. Thanks for your example of choosing the godly and gracious path.