It has been over a year since my Grandma passed, and her story still stands out to me today. As a little girl, I will never forget her long, perfectly manicured nails (which she did herself) that were constantly in shades of red, mauve and pearlescent pink. Since I wasn't allowed to wear nail polish at the time, I always begged her to let me "borrow" her nail polish, and she would never say "no." Walks to the local 7-Eleven for ice-cream with her and my siblings were a weekly tradition.
My Grandma was always a very private person, only sharing tidbits of her personal life with us. Even though she lived with us, she sometimes came off rather cold and distant. However, we knew she loved us deep down inside, as my Grandma just had a different way of showing it.
Her story is a tragic one during a time of political unrest in China. My Grandfather was the headmaster of the school at which my Grandma taught, and they had recently conceived their second child (my father), when my Grandfather was turned in by a relative to the authorities and killed. As a result, she was a widow most of her life, raising my father and his sister nearly all on her own.
My Grandma hardly spoke of my Grandfather, even though decades had passed. There were no photos left behind to recollect his memory, as I am assuming it was too difficult for her to reminisce. They say that even when someone passes away, you continue to make new discoveries about them. It wasn't until after my Grandma's passing, that I began to understand more of who and why she was the way she was. She spent most of her life as a social worker, specializing in working with orphans. I often wondered if her work in helping others allowed her to find some sort of healing from her past.
No one but God, would have been able to empathize with the pain and sorrow of what she had gone through when losing my Grandfather. I wish I took the opportunity to ask her about her past-- how she coped with the feelings of betrayal from a relative, along with the burden of losing a spouse, and when healing and forgiveness took place.
I have never dealt with learning to forgive on the level my Grandma had to go through, but I was reminded of her story after she passed. Forgiveness has been a recurrent theme the Lord has been hammering in me for the past few years. I've heard the word plenty of times growing up in the church: Christ died so that our sins would be forgiven-- the concept of grace never became personal for me until I left for college, and then it was demonstrated to me again through my own husband.
I have learned to receive such undeserving grace, but yet the past few years have had me holding onto past hurts. I felt entitled to my ill feelings towards certain friendships I had invested in, that had grown distant through our own pride and misunderstandings. I allowed the seeds of bitterness to take root within my heart. However petty and insignificant the reasons behind my unforgiveness were, I could not seem to let things go. It wasn't until someone painted an illustration for me, revealing that unforgiveness was like drinking the poison that was intended for the other person. That really struck a chord, and I began to open my eyes to see the damage I was doing not only to others, but to myself.
It has been a slow learning process, these past few years...and I am still learning today. Choosing to forgive is a daily quest, and I find myself struggling, even with my own children. Love does not come easy, but I am reminded that there is a perfect love out there. And it holds no record of wrongs. It is kind, it protects, it doesn't dishonor others, it isn't self-seeking, nor easily angered. It doesn't delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. Most importantly, love never fails (1 Cor. 13:4-8).
The ultimate definition of love is found through The One who created love and exemplified it through dying on a cross for broken people like me. I find myself asking:
If Christ died not only for sinners, but for those who ridiculed and despised him, who am I to hold judgement and unforgiveness towards others?
|I am looking forward to the day when I will see her in heaven -- renewed and completely restored.|