In recent weeks I have been thinking an awful lot about the end of days, whether they are mine, or anyone else’s. Not in a morbid sense, but in more of a reality sense. More of a thought process revolving around the thoughts, dreams, and wishes of someone, anyone, who might be living through the end of their days. Then, mentally I dig a little deeper, and expand the thought process to include people who might be close, or at least were once close, to the person now towards the end of their time here on earth. I think about life, and all it may have held for anyone, or maybe each of these individuals. I think about fun, laughter, and the best of times. The times that any of these people would escape to, right then and there, were they afforded that opportunity. Conversely, I think also about forgiveness. I think about those free passes (forgiveness) we possess and carry with us every day, and why sometimes we freely give of them, and other times why we hold to them on so tightly. As if, perhaps, we are above the act of forgiveness, or because who would be forgiven, or even due to the act that we deem unforgivable.
We may think that not everyone deserves a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card in life, but there are more that do deserve one (or more) than those who don’t. Primarily, you and I are the ones who decide who gets this free pass and then also, who doesn’t get one. Seriously though, who are we to forgive or not to forgive? Shouldn’t we also remember that we too, many times throughout life come, head-bowed, in the presence of someone we wish to be forgiven by?
Imagine this. There’s comes a time in your life when circumstances you cannot control consume your mind and your daily thought process more than they should. Maybe decisions are made that are not normally decisions you would make, but in doing so, you have further complicated things. Things that could, should, and otherwise would be simple, but not right then, because attention is paid elsewhere and the simple is forgotten, temporarily foreign. Then news of matters you knew were on the horizon are now staring you in the face, and decisions are necessary, furthermore, action is overdue. You long to escape all of it or at least the unpleasant, so as to concentrate on the things you’d rather focus on. Life doesn’t work that way, and mounting pressure pushes you further from the normalcy you may have known through times in your life. Suddenly devastating news, or something near and dear to you, presents itself in the form of a problem or a situation you wouldn’t wish on anyone. All of this is added to the 24-hour schedule you already were struggling to keep up with. Ugh!!!!!! Then there’s more heaped on because it can be heaped on. And so on. Any balance seems lost and, at best, you keep your head above water.
Next, interactions with people take on a different tone. Words are said, maybe not meant, but certainly slip through the filter, and are out there to be discussed, felt, and otherwise held against you. Priorities shift, and the left is separated from the right. Not much seems to fit together anymore. Continuity is slowly replaced with uneasiness. Calm found in a moment, held so sacred now, is replaced with despair. Darkness is welcomed as the sense of who can see, and how you’re seen, dissipates with the fall of night. A temporary respite from the day-to-day life that you’ll get through, but that outcome seems more like a guess than a certainty on any given night. Time seems to disappear at least in the sense of measurement of it, as reactionary mode will often do. Deadlines are chosen, meaning some are met and others are treated as if they were gentle reminders or suggestions. These come around again and usually get more serious in nature with each passing round. Indifference sets its hold now, and that changes everything. Relationships suffer all around you, because there are too many layers between caring and just making it through the next few hours without disrupting the regiment of simply breathing.
The end of the day is welcomed whether it is mid-afternoon or the middle of the night. Quiet is sought after but soon turns its back on you as your mind retrieves the images of what you think, assume, or maybe even know is happening around you. This too, becomes just a mere suggestion, from you to yourself, and you carry on in spite of the warnings from the inner you. Days, have since run right through weeks, and now mount as months turning into years. The cocoon from which you operate your daily life feels like its closer to the big picture, any normal life you used to know, but it’s really just a fraction of the space that once felt so open, free, and uninhibited to function in. For now, you don’t notice the difference, or maybe you sense it, but deny it like the suggestions you’ve given yourself up to now. At some point you ask yourself:
What was I thinking, when this bed I did make?
Missing now, how many years did this take?
Time passes, life marches on. Maybe differences have been reconciled, maybe they have not. Relationships strained, perhaps mended again, but maybe left unattended still. Each of us on our own path and your paths don’t cross with the same groups anymore, as a result of the route you chose to take. But, also there’s the path(s) that those around you chose to take as a result of your impact on them. So the circles that once gathered together as one, maybe now gather in spite of you, the one.
All the while, over this time elapsed, so long, others all carried those free passes, the get-out-of-jail-free card known as forgiveness, recognized as mercy. Passes saved for you were held, other passes were given freely in areas that didn’t sting the affected so much. Like a sliver of water that finds its way into the crevices of solid rock, it gets cold and freezes, splitting this formidable bond wide open, your allegiances are diminished.
Finally, or at least close to it, the end of days for you has come. Whether it’s the number of years you’ve been here on earth and the time is short, or if it’s sickness, suffering, illness, disease, or self-inflicted health restrictions, either way, it’s almost your time. There you sit, lay, wait, otherwise pass time until time is no more. In those moments when the mind is clear, your brain is free of clutter, and measurement of time once again seems not to matter, you wish to cling to the memories worth pulling from the past. You long for a circle in your place of rest, a circle of those you love, those who have loved you, and for those who are now estranged. You wish, to each you could extend a hand, asking for them to give freely of the passes they hold, one by one. Maybe they come, maybe they don’t. And like the inevitable dawn of the next morning, it hits you like a wave of first morning light, and doesn’t stop, that the people and situations you callously disregarded in the spin that was your time of despair are the ones you want near you before you leave this world. And you wait, you wish, and you wonder how it is that this you, the same you all the years through, could have been that person who pushed people away, or even ran from the direction they gathered in. You beg for forgiveness and wonder if you ever asked for it while life’s time was elapsing.
So, I ask the question: Why didn’t we do anything about this before there was a time limit applied to the action?
For all of you, all of us, you and me, we hold the keys. While forgiveness does not excuse the transgressor, nor does it validate the erroneous action taken, it is the right thing to do. In essence, the lack of forgiveness, the lack of showing mercy, is wrong in its own right. Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
That person, the person counting down the days and waiting, is thinking about you, and yes, you from time to time, maybe more often, allow your mind and your thoughts to wander in that person’s way. Maybe it’s Mom, maybe it’s Dad, an uncle or aunt, long time friend, brother, sister, or whatever, it’s someone that at one time held your interest above most others. Until now, you’ve not forgiven them for whatever that wedge which came between you is. Or if you have, you haven’t let them in on your secret as of yet. Then you must realize that you are no more perfect than the one reeling from not being forgiven. You must be aware that in your own moments, long or short, that you have struggled with many of the things listed above. And yes, maybe you handled them better than the one you won’t forgive, but you are no more human, no better created, or in any other way a superior being. You are you. He or is she is who they are; period. And within each of us, we maintain the capacity to forgive, to accept another, or to be supportive, loving, and caring. So, why hold on? Is that something you want to take inventory of at the end of your days? I love how this passage talks of this idea of forgiveness: Micah 7:18-19
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
“Delight to show mercy.” If only we were all that good.
I started this piece in my mind months ago. I started applying words to a document a week ago. Now, I close this piece after writing, re-writing, adding, subtracting, and changing the order of these paragraphs, only to put them back in the order that I originally conceived them, in order to deliver a message. The message is more or less this, none of us are perfect, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves and think we have this figured out better than another. Tomorrow is not promised, and neither are the things we may have to encounter. Therefore we are all, at some level, susceptible to the chaos, lack of balance, and poor decision-making described earlier. We do control more than we know sometimes, and being the voice that sets another free, or the listening observer, the calm at the side of the bed, the partner in prayer, or the touch that calms an otherwise restless soul, may be in among the passes we hold. So, pray, understand, change your perspective, and “delight to show mercy.” Something tells me you will be glad you did.
This piece is very much inspired by events in my own life from long ago and right through until now. Learning is ongoing. Sharing is my treat, as well as my refuge. I hope you made it through this with me. Thank you for stopping by and sharing a few minutes with me.