The fence line at the Antietam Battlefield
This last week has been a whirlwind. Patients, families, meetings, charting, phone calls, and driving over 750 miles. And that’s just for starters.
The reason I logged all those miles was to attend a committee review of my application to be recognized as a Board-Certified Chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains. I’ll spare you the details, (you can go to the link and read all about it), but it has taken me almost five years since I graduated from seminary to achieve this recognition.
Professional chaplains engage in an intensive learning process. It is the process of learning how to use your “self” as a resource; being aware of your strengths, weaknesses, blind spots and potential triggers takes time. Lots of time. It requires prayer, reflection, writing, talking, and applying what you discern. It’s long hours for crap pay (no lie… for one of my placements I earned minimum wage!) It’s trying to understand someone from a radically different background. And always, always ALWAYS listening to the Spirit of the Living God.
So when I came to today’s Photo-a-Day prompt, FORGIVE, I was immediately drawn to search for a photo of Antietam. The bloodiest battle on America’s soil where over 23,000 were killed in a day. In some parts of the United States, the shadows cast by The Civil War are decidedly UNcivil. I was reminded of that fact as I drove around North Carolina. And later today, as I drove up I-95 and saw the huge Confederate flag in full view of I-95. (Read more here.)
It’s true: in some places, the South has not forgiven the North. Funny how that applies to many other issues in the US today…
But it is also a part of my chaplain’s journey, as I have learned to view people who reject my ministry with compassion instead of getting angry. Yes. I’ve been rejected. And many times, I don’t know whether it’s because I am the wrong race, gender, denomination or something else I don’t know! (I’m wearing pants? My head isn’t covered?)
I’ve had to leave a lot of baggage behind. It’s too much emotional and psychological effort to carry all of that extra enmity. I am learning that life is too short, and the world has much to celebrate and cherish.
Family, friends, beauty, joy, hope… all are worth the extra time and energy that I can give them.
A quote I read recently brought it home:
Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace. – Jonathan Lockwood Huie
The Apostle Paul had some good advice about forgiveness too:
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13 NIV)
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV)
A reminder. A prayer. A life-long goal.