Every so often, I suffer from an extreme bout of cynicism. Maybe that surprises you since I generally come across online as a smiling fairy princess, or maybe that doesn’t surprise you at all since you see me in real life and know that I growl sometimes. The truth is that there was an entire year of life when hearing keys come in under a praying preacher made me want to throw rotten tomatoes and crush cans of Coke with my bare hands. (I was paranoid about being emotionally manipulated, and I also wore a lot of pencil skirts at that time, so I was probably uncomfortably constricted. Don’t worry, I’m over the skirts and this particular cynicism.)
This tendency towards cynicism is something I do not like about myself, and more tragically, it’s something that gets in the way of my delight for the Lord, his Word and his Bride. Because delighting in those things is so important to me (and because I don’t really want to handle rotten tomatoes), I’ve been putting some thought into what causes cynicism and what it’s made out of (other than stale soul pizza and garbage juice).
In my searching, I’ve realized that cynicism is what happens to me when I get hurt in small ways and fail to recognize the wounds and entrust them to my Healer. Strangely enough, when I’m hurt in a big way, I usually respond appropriately: lamenting the injury, begging God for help, seeking wisdom and comfort from my people, eating a brownie, working towards forgiveness and reconciliation.
But when I’m hurt in small ways, I muscle up. I get tough instead of tender, and I think, “I can handle this.” But I can’t. Eventually, I feel like I’ve been through a cheese grater. I’m covered in tiny cuts, sidelined by hundreds of centimeter slices, in genuine pain but unable to pinpoint its source. It’s not fun to be vaguely angry at zillions of vague people.
So I’m taking better care of each paper cut. Like my kids do, I’m holding each minuscule injury up to my Heavenly Father and saying, “Ouch.” I don’t have to buck up, pretend like everything is fine, or keep a creepy smile plastered across my praying face. I can say, “This is not a mortal wound, but it still hurts me, and I trust you to see me in this place of tiny injury, to be my safe place and Healer.”
Practically, I am learning to be specific and honest in prayer. “Dear God, help me forgive Governor Ratcliffe.** His words hurt a little, and they still bother me.”
I imagine there is much more work to be done, but I’ve taken great comfort in seeing that God consistently presents himself as a record-keeper: noting our tears (Psalm 56:8), noting our days (Psalm 139:16), noting the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7). He can handle my record of tiny injuries.
But His gospel will do more than see this list. He will lead me to treat recorded wrongs the way he does: seeing them in full and then forgiving them completely. Praise God that he takes my record of wrongs and rips them up, never to be held against me, separating me from my sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).
I can forgive like he forgives, not ignoring offenses as I’m prone to do, but facing them head-on — and then through his power, example, and sanctification in my life, forgiving them completely. This is why love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5) — not because love overlooks wrongs, but because love was willing to look and love anyway.
Thank you, Lord, for caring about the little hurts. What a treasure to be able to bring every tiny cut before you and trust you to be our Healer. Thank you for the intimacy we find in injury. Teach us to forgive others as you forgave us.
**This is not a political statement. This is a character in Pocahontas. His pigtails are stupid, and I don’t forgive him.