All I’d wanted to do was encourage her to choose better for herself, to think a little about truth, and faith, and the future. But she took my words and slapped me with them, twisting them into a condemnation of her lifestyle and priorities, and now? All I want to do is protect myself. Avoid speaking so I’m not misunderstood. Avoid her.
I’ve always desired to keep a short list of wrongdoings – to be forgiving, as I have been forgiven – and for the most part, that has been so. Those people in my life that are hardest to love, who inadvertently wound with words or careless actions, are people that I still desire God’s best for. But this latest wound is still raw, and I don’t know if I have forgiven. Can I be forgiving and still want to hide?
I have a theory about women and pain. There are so many women in their forties or fifties who are alone, and I wonder if they carry a shell over their hearts. To be hurt and remain soft, it takes more from us than we can give on our own, and bitterness crackles like iron over tender hearts.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 1 Peter 3:3-6
I think at some point many women do give in to fear. We fear that if we don’t protect ourselves, no one else will. And a once gentle and quiet spirit is broken by an overwhelming desire to avoid pain. In marriage, in friendship, we will be hurt. And it takes an incredible amount of courage to stay soft, to choose to continue to love and trust the one who has wounded us.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
I am so blessed to know that I am loved like this – by my husband, by my family, by Christ.