In trying to deal with my bitterness and resentment, I've been looking for things I can read on the subject. Last night I found a devotional book Prayers and Promises for Women in the drawer of my nightstand. I think my mother gave it to me sometime during the last three years, but I guess I hadn't read much from it because it still looked and felt new. It's just a small paperback book, not of daily devotions but of devotions on specific topics. I didn't look in the table of contents before opening the book. I just opened it to where it seemed to want to naturally fall. The topic it opened to was forgiveness, and the Bible verse at the top of the page was the same one I put in my "Blindsided" entry a few days ago ... Ephesians 4:32 ... And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. What are the chances that this little book would open to the exact topic that I needed to read about?
As I read the devotion that followed the Bible verse, I couldn't help but cry because it fit so perfectly with how I was feeling. The second paragraph said, "If, in your heart, you hold bitterness against even a single person, forgive. If there exists even one person, alive or dead, whom you have not forgiven, follow God's commandment and His will for your life: forgive. If you are embittered against yourself for some past mistake or shortcoming, forgive. Then, to the best of your abilities, forget. And move one. Bitterness and regret are not part of God's plan for your life. Forgiveness is." I realized something new as I read this - I not only feel bitterness toward Eddie for what he did, I also feel bitterness toward myself for what I wasn't able to do.
I know in my head that I did everything I could to help Eddie with his alcoholism, but in my heart I still feel there was something more I could/should have done. I thought I had overcome these feelings of guilt and of questioning myself about what I did or didn't do, but I guess they're not completely gone after all. Regardless of how much I've read or the amount of counseling I've received, I still can't believe that I didn't see warning signs leading up to his suicide. Even now, three years later, I still go back over the days and weeks before his death wondering what I missed and what I could have said or done differently. I know looking back serves no purpose. I can't change the past. I can't undo what's already been done. But as much as I know these things, I also know that I'm still carrying around a feeling of responsibility inside of me for what I wasn't able to do.
"He who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass." -Corrie ten Boom