Even though Rhonda wisely cautioned me not to open Pandora’s box, I did. When writing the post Her Footstool, it wasn’t enough for me to recall the hurtful comments that Eliza had left on our voicemail three years ago in her “footstool” sermon. And because I have quite a memory for detail, there was really no need for me to dig out the old tapes and listen to that message or any of the other ones that I did for that matter. I guess in a way, it was a test. I wanted to see if I was truly “over” the past. Unfortunately I did not ace the test. I only listened to five or so of the messages, but it was enough for the old wounds to fester and burn.
Listening to her biting lies and fanatical commentary really cut me. It was like reliving the nightmare over again. I recalled many of the things she did, not only to me and my husband, but her crazy attempts to involve Nicholas as well. I contemplated how and why things got so bad. I wondered how one person could have so much hatred for another. I was indignant at her nasty, superior tone laden with accusations. In her “footstool” sermon she declared “my kids don’t even like you.” That instantly upped my ire. She knew as well as I did that they were conditioned not to like me. In short they were forbidden to like me. I finally had to put the tapes away. I had heard enough.
This past Sunday when I took Ethan down to visit her; I was in a weird kind of mood. After they chatted for a while I sent him to gather snacks for the three of us. I took that moment to share with her something that I thought she needed to hear. In a sober tone I said “Recently I came across some of the old voicemails that you left for me. Those tapes have further confirmed for me that it is only with the grace of God that we are sitting here today. It has been nothing but God behind this.” This wasn’t what she expected to hear. I figured she would rapidly change the topic, but she responded by agreeing with my statement. She also admitted that she probably has done some mean things to me due to my loyalty to her ex, my husband. She also said that she did not know me back then. Eliza finished by preaching about Matthew 7:5. Touche, I stand corrected.
For the rest of the visit we played our customary game of Scrabble. I allowed her and Ethan to carry the conversation. At the conclusion of the visit I gave her a heartfelt hug just to let her know that I did not hold anything against her. She hugged me back tightly and told me for the first time in person “Morocco, thank you for bringing Ethan down, thanks for the snacks…I appreciate all you do.”
I was not expecting any grand revelations from her about what I said to her. I knew she would be too proud to apologize. Believe it or not, an apology is not what I wanted. I think I wanted her to simply acknowledge the things that she did. Once Eliza is released from prison I’m sure I will never have her ear again. She won’t have to listen to me.
I experienced a lot of emotions on the drive home. I felt so vexed that I had to email a good friend for her support and advice. Stacy, formerly of the Perfect Blend, really helped put things into perspective for me. She also suggested that I do an exercise creating a timeline of the events that transpired with Eliza. With each event she suggested that I write about how each one made me feel. I started working on it yesterday.
I don’t know why it has been so hard for me to forgive Eliza, especially when Jesus so freely forgave us and still continues to do so. There is no sin that can’t be forgiven…70X7 is what I believe he said. With this in mind I have made up my mind to let go of the past once and for all. I know that I don’t have the right not to forgive her.
Initially after hearing the tapes I felt a surge of vengeance. I could hear James Brown in my head singing his song about retaliation. I wanted payback. But after having the space to think about things I realized that I don’t really want to pay her back. That would just keep the bitter cycle going. Besides, she is already suffering enough and wanting her to hurt more is just cruel.
Instead I am choosing to “pray her back.” After my exercise is completed, I am going to pray her back for each incident on the timeline. I am going to pray consistently that God change her heart. I’m praying that she experiences the true glory of God. But I will be praying for myself as well. I am going to pray that God gives me the strength and grace needed to be as quick as He is to forgive others. I am praying that I am finally able to release the hurt that has caused me to have an unforgiving spirit once and for all.