I've never done a cleanse before, and I think as part of working my Step 7 (humbly asking God to remove my character weaknesses), God has basically just targeted everything I used to scorn and mock and brought it front and center into my life.
That means I'm gluten free too, folks, in case you're keeping track.
As I began this cleanse, hoping to give my intestines space from irritants and give them a spa day to heal, I was terrified.
I use food for comfort and fun and rewards.
Today, I'm one full week in and the effects have been really hopeful. For the last two years, I've only felt let-down by my body, as if it had lost the ability to heal and was only trekking downhill toward knee replacements and pain-pill popping. But one solid week in, and my body is responding really well. My joint inflammation has been significantly reduced, and I've sluffed off some (what I think is water) weight. I feel light, in every sense of the word.
Darkness and heaviness are exiting stage left.
A few days into my cleanse, God reminded me that last summer I read Desmond Tutu's, "The Book of Forgiving." (affiliate link) It comes with meditations and journaling exercises that I avoided last year, but this year, God said, "It's time."
I've taken full advantage of this cleanse by exercising at least 20 minutes per day and making my daily morning meditation practice non-negotiable.
God is calling on me to HEAL MORE. This is shoulder-to-the-wheel healing time.
In order for me to heal fully, I need a safe space. I can create my own safety -something I didn't know 7 years ago. Right now, I've added some definite boundaries in my life because I can cleanse for weeks and forgive 70 x7, but if I'm not safe, I will never fully heal.
Because My Little Warrior Woman comes out and won't sleep. I can't heal unless she's asleep.
When I'm not safe, she comes out. She fights. It looks and sounds like control when she comes out. I try to manage the level of pain that's inflicted on me and my kiddos. I fight, I shield, I protect.
She's my mini-wonder woman.
I love her.
I can't HEAL with her on the warpath. She only comes out when I'm in unsafe territory, and this means for me to walk the path of healing, I gotta get OFF the battlefield. Create my own safety instead of waiting for the enemy to stop firing, if you know what I mean.
So last night and this morning, I did. Boundaries set, battlefield in the rearview. My Little Warrior Woman is sleeping now.
Healing can commence.
As I've delved into Tutu's "Book of Forgiving" for the second time, I'm really just pleased all over again.
I'm not good at forgiving. I'm really not.
This book has given me a "HOW" behind the whole entire process without an ounce of shame. Nowhere in it's pages are the words, "You were raised with a Bible in your home and you don't GET THIS?! You must be an idiot."
Over and over, Tutu affirms that forgiveness isn't easy, sharing his own experiences and those of his loved ones.
A few stand out quotes I wanted to share from the first chapter.
Speaking of Christ, he states:
He must also have been able to obliterate the signs of the torture and death he endured. But he chose not to erase that evidence. After the resurrection, he appeared to his disciples. In most instances, he showed them his wounds and his scars. This is what healing demands. Behavior that is hurtful, shameful, abusive or demeaning must be brought into the fierce light of truth. And truth can be brutal. In fact, truth may exacerbate the hurt; it might make things worse. But if we want real forgiveness and real healing, we must face the real injury.
That quote struck something in me -I'd never, ever thought of Christ's scars in that way. He showed his wounds and scars. Healing demands that we show them, maybe not publicly but we must face them. We must speak them. That's how forgiveness starts... by simply looking at the truth of what happened to us and bringing it into the fierce light of truth.
At the end of the chapter, there is a beautiful poem in which we find the words:
"...I am bigger than the image you have of me.
I am stronger.
I am more beautiful.
And I am infinitely more precious than you thought me.
I will forgive you.
My forgiveness is not a gift that I am giving to you.
When I forgive you,
My forgiveness will be a gift that gives itself to me."
I have ben practicing the recommended mediation in the chapter -it is helping me to visualize forgiveness in a way that I feel is helping me to spiritually create it, even though I haven't physically done it yet.
Tutu also includes a "Stone Ritual" at the end of every chapter. He recommends selecting a stone to use while reading and working through his book. I chose to use a hunk of rose quartz because it's pink.
And I like pink a lot.
Pink and sparkles.
I bought a sparkly journal just to go with my journey through this book. As Tutu says, it is my own "book of forgiving."
For the first "Stone Ritual," I held my rose quartz in my hand for 6 hours (it ended up being seven on account my sleeping through a few of those hours) in my non-dominant hand. I did that yesterday and then answered some questions about it today.
It was a really cleansing experience for me. The exercise also has you list people I would like to forgive and those I would like forgiveness from. I've been stuck on Steps 8/9 (making a list of all people we have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all and then go forward and make those amends) for over 2 years, and this book might just be the game-changer for me.
It just might.
God has led me to it.
I'm cleansing in so many more ways than one.
From my own book of forgiving:
#5) In what ways was carrying the stone like carrying an unforgiven hurt?
Carrying the stone is like carrying an unforgiven hurt because it hinder and binds me. There is a certain freedom in forgiveness that I can't access right now. I'm learning from resentments and anger, but only that I am anchored to a cause I do not believe in at my true core. And holding the stone was literally stinky, just like holding resentment is figuratively stinky. I am capable of carrying the stone, just as I am capable of carrying resentments and anger and victimization. But carrying the stone hindered my routine health and well-being practices (like dishing up food, interrupting my sleep, making it hard to open my water bottle, and messing with my bathroom time), and carrying resentments, anger and victim-thinking also interrupts the natural flow of my health and well-being. I've never known life -can't remember a time -when I had access to the freedom forgiveness and grace offer. I have said that I fear losing my freedom -facing bondage of any kind -but I live in the bondage of "hinderment."