I'm an ISFJ. For those of you familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality typing, you know that means I'm an introvert (I recharge alone) who tends to make decisions based on what I sense and feel about a situation and ..... I'm a judger. I am. It's one of things I hate the most about myself. I know it allows me to make decisions and stick to them. It helps me to help others process through choices. But it also means that I judge situations even when I don't even realize it. Sometimes Dave will see "the expression" on my face and do a sign language "J" to me. Yep. Can't even hide it in my face. And one of the downfalls of being a judger is that (1) we tend to have very definite views about who is right and who is wrong in a situation and (2) we have a hard time letting go of past injustices and wounds. Basically, when I feel I have been wronged, it is FOR SURE a supernatural act that helps me to forgive and walk my emotional health back from crisis mode to normal operational mode.
What's more, these hurts tend to attach themselves to experiences, people, and places. Sometimes, I can feel a past hurt wash over me just by hearing a song, being in the grocery store at a particular time of year, or smelling a certain scent. Hurts like embarrassment, betrayal, and rejection run deep, and even when I think that time has healed all wounds, they surge when I expect them the least and have the power to ruin whatever moment of my life that I'm living at the time. In fact, masking the hurt often makes it worse.
There are mornings when I wake with a wound on my heart that has come up in a dream. There are afternoons where I have to pull myself out of victim mode because of something that I've read or seen on social media. There are evenings where David becomes my therapist as I just talk out why I feel hurt and why that is (most of the time) totally unreasonable. In the end, I have a choice. I can hold onto a feeling of hurt and nurse it like a grudge, dismiss it and bury it under logical reasoning and the busyness of the moment, or lay it at the foot of the Cross, asking my Savior to lead me to action if any action is left to be done towards healing.
Many times, I truly believe that I have left most of these hurtful situations having asked forgiveness for my sin and leaving the door open for the relationship or the situation to go forward in a healthy manner. But it is unbelievable how often I forget that. The majority of the time David has to remind me that the past has been forgiven, and everyone else has moved on. I'm the only one stuck hauling around the muck from the past. Sheesh. I hope this is true. I deeply desire to, as much as it is in my power, live at peace with all men (and women, of course).
A couple of years ago, a friend recommended a book called Have You Filled a Bucket Today? SPOILER ALERT: The gist of this children's book is that we each go through the day with a bucket, and it is our job throughout the course of the day to help fill others' buckets by doing and saying kind things, by looking for a minimum of one person whose bucket we can fill with goodness. The book reminds us that by filling others' buckets, the miraculous happens, and our own buckets then are even more filled by the act of helping others.
It's so true, right? When we are kind to others, we are blessed with the knowledge that we've made someone else's day easier/better/brighter. I love the concept and have read this book with my kiddos several times, hoping and praying that they will remember this lesson long into their lives, but I think the book may need another chapter.
I'm entitling this chapter "Have You Emptied Your Other Bucket Today?" While I do believe that we each carry around a bucket that is filled by doing and receiving kindness from others, I believe this bucket has very little impact on our daily lives unless we learn to dump our Other Bucket. You see, the Other Bucket is what some of us (especially judgers) use to carry around all the hurts, wounds, and disappointments of our ENTIRE LIVES. We sweat the accidents we've had, cry over the words that have hurt us, and live in agony over the relationships that have crumbled. We feel ALL THE FEELINGS over and over again. And guess what? We totally haul all that trash around with us every. single. day.
And as I'm sure you can imagine, the Other Bucket gets heavier and heavier as we walk around wounded and more than a little bit edgy over the past that just doesn't look as cozy and comfortable as we'd like it to. No matter how many people say kind things or perform random acts of awesomeness, we are just unable to move forward. Situations that should be completely joyful are marred by all the trash in the Other Bucket that we just can't seem to lose, but there is hope!
I've tried many times to dump my Other Bucket in my own strength. To make things right with that friend who was hurt or was hurtful. To move past an embarrassing situation to redemption. But I've discovered that healing isn't human. Healing is divine, and until we invite a Holy God to help us dump our Other Bucket, we will continue to haul this rotting, crippling stench around. It will continue to sour our new relationships and will cast a gloomy shadow over all the new rich days that our God wants to give us.
So in addition to trying to fill one person's bucket today, I want God to help me dump something (or many somethings) out of my Other Bucket. I want to choose forgiveness for the hurt that comes to mind rather than bitterness. I want to choose to embrace grace rather than trek around with the guilt that I can easily heap on myself for every screwed-up situation that I take responsibility for. Because here's the kicker: taking responsibility doesn't mean hauling around the hurt. I will make restitution as much as I am able and humble myself, and then I will leave my sin at the foot of the Cross, knowing that the blood of Jesus Christ more than paid the penalty for my sin. And I will not allow the enemy of my soul to continue to effectively debilitate me by flashing my sins in front of my heart day after day. We are more than hurt-haulers. We are conquerors through Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.
Perhaps someone who is reading this is one of many who have been hurt as a consequence of my sin. Ugh. I hate even thinking that, but I know how human I truly am. If you think I don't care about you and your pain, you couldn't be more wrong. And if we need to talk, I'm all in. There is nothing I'd love more than to bring more unity and healing to the Body of Christ. Let's grab a coffee. I'm buying. But I'm done walking around wondering if the silent treatment I'm receiving is justified or not, real or imagined. My Other Bucket is too heavy, and I can haul it no more.
Maybe the next blog post will have more to do with the crazy goings-on in our home, but this season of my life more than any other has caused me to have little tolerance for the crazy in my own heart. I have no time to nurse old wounds when there are real, live souls that need nurturing. And I have no energy to carry the guilt from past sins when I have four little (and one big) hands to hold who deserve undivided focus and unhampered affection.
May your buckets be full, my sweet friends. And may you and I have the courage to let Jesus empty our Other Buckets at the foot of His Cross today. Here's to our Savior and to a very Hope-filled New Year!