The political climate recently has been talking about medals earned in combat and whether they were deserved or not and who exactly decided a medal should be awarded. It has given me opportunity to stop and think about the medals that I award myself.
Almost three years ago our family moved to a new town. Six months later, our house flooded. Shortly after that, we were sued. Shortly after that, we learned my husband’s mother was terminally ill. Shortly after that – well, you get the idea. Let me just say that it has been almost five months since our last major crisis. I have learned not to breathe a sigh of relief, but to run for cover. I was never promised this life would be easy. Why, then, must I share my "medal of honor" for suffering and grief with all around me. I have learned that I want to award myself a "medal of martyrdom" to show people how strong I was while I was suffering and going through trials. The trials, large and small, begin to pile up like trash on your front porch. If you refuse to let them go, forgiving when necessary, grieving when necessary, then your porch will end up REALLY trashy.
Sometimes it’s difficult to let go of the bitterness of hardships and not want to show the world your trash, your battle scars. I find that frequently I want to wear my trials on my sleeve like a medal that shows what all I have survived. I am missing the blessings of my trials – the lessons I have learned about God’s faithfulness, the fellow warriors that God has sent me to pray me through, my children seeing their parents cry out to God on a regular basis –when I only want to tell people about how painful they were.
I also have learned that ‘forgiving and forgetting’ is a myth created by the world. Forgiveness isn’t. Absolutely not. Forgiveness of others is a natural by-product of loving them as God loves them and knowing how much God has forgiven me. But forgetting – doesn’t happen. God blesses us with those memories, but to use for His glory. Those memories, which can sometimes be painful enough to give you opportunity to forgive all over again, can be used to minister to others. That’s where I want to keep my ‘survivor medals’ – tucked away to be used as ministry opportunities arise.
As I find myself awarding myself those "medals of martyrdom" I am reminded again to clear the trash off my porch. God can do it. Sometimes it takes frequent prayers to forgive and love as He loves. But God will be faithful, as always, and we won’t have to rely on our self-awarded medals. We can wait for the crown He will award.
1 Peter 4:12-15,19
"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. . . .So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good."