In the last few years, I’ve thought a lot about being open and vulnerable and allowing myself to soften, especially in a world that can be harsh. This is scary and, most of the time, choosing to remain soft isn’t what comes naturally.
When someone betrays trust, or hurts me, my first instinct is to feel the injustice and let that injustice sit heavily in my heart. But the longer it sits there, and the more I think about it without moving on, the deeper the roots of bitterness, resentment, and envy grow.
Softening, to me, is about forgiving and freeing yourself from the pain and from the hurt. It’s about that hurt not becoming another piece of the wall you build around yourself.
In saying this, some people aren’t trustworthy, and being your most vulnerable self around them could cause more harm to you. We still need to be wise about how we offer our hearts.
But I don’t want to shut the right people out, the people I trust and love and want to connect further with.
The softest words. I want to write things that are real. I want to be vulnerable in my words and show a piece of myself through my writing.
We are all allowed to be angry sometimes. Being open and soft does not mean being happy all the time. But if a poem I write starts out of anger, I do not want it to end there.
Anger is not all there is to art or to living.
After my breakup, I wrote a lot of sad poems. Which is normal. Because I was sad. But sadness does not exist on its own. Sadness is not the finish line. To me, being vulnerable and allowing myself to be soft did mean writing about how I was really feeling. But it also meant I wasn’t going to be sad forever and I wasn’t going to dwell unnecessarily on the hurt. There is a time to let yourself feel the emotion, but there is also a time when you are sad for the sake of being sad, and that doesn’t really help you. (I often have to force myself to stop listening to sad music after a certain point because I can feel it making me sad about things that I’m no longer actually sad about. Which can be dangerous.)
In my mind, my heart is a garden. Good things, like joy, are blooming flowers. But if I don’t move on and forgive someone of the hurt they’ve caused me, bitterness and resentment grow and grow and my garden is overflowing with thorny weeds that choke out the good things.
Holding a grudge can feel good, in that way that feels bad at the same time. Convincing myself that I have the right to hold onto the injustice and thinking about it over and over is too easy to do.
But that feeling is unmatched by the freedom that is letting it all go. That is pulling out the thorny weeds. Those weeds are heavy! Those roots are big boys! Carrying them around is a massive burden that chokes out the good things God gives me.
I was thinking this morning about how Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden light (Matthew 11:30). Closing myself off and replaying the pain over and over is so heavy. When I’m sixty, I don’t want to still be carrying those things around. I want my burden to be light. I don’t want to be stuck in that web.
What I struggle with the most is that in being soft and forgiving, it can feel like letting the person who hurt me off the hook. Like I’m being the ‘better’ person while they continue to behave badly without apology or punishment. That sounds completely unfair to me.
It’s difficult, and I don’t have a particular answer. But what I do know is I feel better when I’ve forgiven and moved on. I feel better when I choose to let trustworthy people close to me. I feel better when I’m open and connect with someone. I feel better when I forgive and let myself stop obsessing over every conversation and every action.
I choose freedom. I choose freedom. I choose freedom. I choose life. I choose Jesus and His forgiveness. I choose God’s mercy and His grace and I choose His goodness over my judgement.
It feels like I’m constantly learning this lesson, because bitterness is something I have to pray about a lot. But I’m also thankful I’m aware of it and can deal with it, with God.