Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners,
Whose mouth speaks lying words,
And whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood—
That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth;
That our daughters may be as pillars,
Sculptured in palace style;
That our barns may be full,
Supplying all kinds of produce;
That our sheep may bring forth thousands
And ten thousands in our fields;
That our oxen may be well laden;
That there be no breaking in or going out;
That there be no outcry in our streets.
Happy are the people who are in such a state;
Happy are the people whose God is the Lord! (Psalm 144:11-15)
I never expected this from God, to be honest.
And I’m not sure there would be many who would either. Unless they experienced it first-hand.
Up close and personal, so to speak.
Someone has said, officially, Every curse has a blessing…, (J. K. Ensley), but I’m not sure – even if we use such a sentiment to console ourselves and others when we find we are standing knee-deep in muck – that we understand the import of that message.
Look at the piece of the psalm quoted above.
Those people over there, they lie about us.
And lying isn’t necessarily a small thing in someone’s life. A lie can cost a person big time. Just see what happened to Desdemona and Othello.
It happens every day.
Someone tells a lie, for whatever reason, and a serious consequence ensues.
Not for the person who lied.
I once had to defend myself to my boss because someone told a tall tale about me in my workplace. And I’m someone who – at that time, anyway – was loathe to speak out against another. So, here I was, absolutely stuck. If I defended myself, I had to besmirch another person. Even though She deserved a sound besmirching, I couldn’t find a way to do it. So I was left with the truth – the truth that I had not been at work on Friday because it had been Good Friday and I spent the afternoon in church (a fact The Besmircher thoroughly knew) – and be contented with a mutual understanding that a miscommunication had occurred, no doubt as a result of my own lacking.
Me. The company’s communicator.
Failing to communicate.
About Good Friday.
And I saw clearly that I could well have lost my job over this. That I didn’t perhaps was just because.
I imagine She wanted a battle from me. Me, becoming outraged. Defensive. Pointing.
Instead, I shrugged my shoulders and apologized for the misunderstanding. And for the concern the president of the company felt when he called me and found I wasn’t at my desk on Friday, and was told that I had neither called in nor made anyone aware of my upcoming absence.
But in the psalm, Those people lied. And what we want in return is growth. Abundance. Happiness.
Now from the surface, it might seem like a deal: Look, God, we’ve put up with Their lying about us, now we get the reward of a healthy crop.
But I’ve been doing a forgiveness journal this Lent.
Instead of statements of blame in the form of forgiveness sentences, I forgive you for wanting to cause trouble for me by lying, I write sentences of gratitude.
I am grateful to you, Henrietta Poppaletta, for showing me that I had the strength to risk my job by staying with my commitment to not degrade you.
Day after day this goes on. A page in the journal for everyday of Lent.
I am grateful to you, Henry Higgins, for….
Day after day.
I thought it was such a great idea.
I regretted it on the very first day, Ash Wednesday.
How am I supposed to grateful to her?
It took time.
It took patience.
It took thought.
Something. There must be something!
And then the routine, the discipline of it all, made it easier to go on.
Like mountain climbing: you learn how to grasp and where to put your weight the more you do it.
Behind every farce there is a study.
And then something turned.
I had learned fairly early on that this was not a light task. Or a task to be taken lightly.
It wasn’t about thinking of something, like the baking of a pie for a school social, to be grateful for. It was about defining what blessing came out of that particular curse.
And more and more, shockingly to me, the blessings seemed to have the same message: you grew from this incident.
You became more and more of you from every stumble you took as a result of someone tripping you.
It is as though these events occurred in order for me to develop. To find my wings.
They were my being pushed out of the nest.
Over and over and over again.
See? You can fly!
Each conflict became a little cracking of my shell. A freeing up of my inner self.
It’s so astounding to me that even in the blackest of situations, I can now ask, And who are you in terms of my development?
And this transformation, this turning of the straw of my life into real gold, really does help me to put down any resentment I may have felt about the situation.
Because I can see God behind it all.
It absolutely confounds the notion that there are some things I just cannot forgive.
Because I am too inadequate to forgive such a thing.
And besides, these things happened to me because I’m me.
And, it’s funny, because in a way, that is accurate.
They did happen because I’m me.
Or they happened to help me become me.
God, it turns out, is the fool. The trickster.
The one who weaves our lives out of threads coarse and silken.
So that our design is revealed.