BY Chip Carter, MA, LPC
Last October, my wife and I were on a hike in the Shenandoah Valley. It was cool. All the fall colors that people hope and wait to see were on full display. We were trekking up a sharp incline, and the higher we climbed the views just got better and better. Each step taken had more to see, more beauty to be in awe of, and more to be grateful for.
But I wasn’t feeling any of those emotions. I wasn’t in awe. I sure wasn’t in a grateful mood. The best word to describe that mood at the time was ticked.
Leave it to me to have some of my most frustrating moments at ten thousand feet with God’s majesty in all directions. To the North – annoyance. To the South – anger. East – outrage. And west – righteous indignation.
I started sharing with Amanda (that’s my wife) about what was on my heart, including a good bit of anger towards someone who I felt had both hurt me and left a void since. This wasn’t the first time she had listened to my frustrations regarding this same person. Nor the second. Nor the third.
Amanda’s words that came next are something I hope I don’t ever forget. She compassionately and directly said – “You’ve got to stop doing this to yourself - torturing yourself. You can either go and tell them what they did that has you so upset, or you can (with God’s help) make peace with them in your heart, forgive them and move on. But what you’re doing to yourself right now isn’t good…”
That wasn’t the mountain top experience I thought I would have that day, but time and time again I have thought about her words and their implications. Here’s how I’ve summarized it in my head:
The middle is often a comfortable place to be. If you’re the middle child, you have someone older to protect you and someone younger to look out for. If you’re middle class, you typically have a roof over your head and enough food to eat. Middle America is a desired place to live for a lot of folks who want a simple and less hassled way of life.
But this ‘middle’ was different, and definitely not comfortable. It was more akin to being in the middle seat of a cross county plane ride and on both sides of you are two WWE wrestlers who take up all the air and hog the armrests. Cozy and comfortable – uh, no. Claustrophobic and miserable – yes and amen.
We can’t avoid or navigate around pain and hurt in our lives. We’re all prone to hurt others and be hurt as well. But I believe God has given us a clear plan on how to reconcile our hurts and frustrations with each other. It can be hard and take a lot of sacrifice…
But it sure beats being stuck in the middle seat…
Legacy Strategy Blog
Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.