The memory of pain, the pain of memory……

It’s been said, and I mostly agree, that the pain of childbirth is forgotten in the joy of the new arrival. My experience with childbirth and other physical pains is that one can remember that the experience hurt, but the memory of the pain itself is not acute and recalling it cannot bring one to tears afresh.
But today I have experienced the memory of a psychic pain, an emotional trauma just a year and a half old, and found the memory, much to my surprise and dismay, to have been just as painful as the original event, at least for a few hours. It was a pain I thought I’d recovered from and sufficiently processed and neatly packed away so that recalling it would not only not be hurtful but the very act of recalling it would not even be a choice.
As it happened it was not a choice but an ambush. Circumstances of proximity to the individual associated with the pain, though not uncomfortable or even unwelcome while occurring, left me afterwards with a sudden awareness of how close that pain actually was to the surface as soon as the circumstances were past. It’s like the old adage that one maintains strength and perseverance through a necessary task, then falls apart as soon as it’s over. Well…. that was what I experienced. I got through the time with the individual, enjoyed it even, then when I was alone again, I found the pain flooding in on me. I realized that what I thought was processed, forgiven, and put away (not to be recalled) was so very near to my heart and mind that I was caught completely off guard.
It alarmed me to realize that I still had such emotions around the events that I had found so hurtful. Can’t forgiveness intended be forgiveness in reality? And, once forgiven, can’t the pain subside?
Just recently I had been contemplating the Biblical use of the word “heart” as I read Martyn-Lloyd Jones’ Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. He says that “heart” actually refers to mind, emotions, and will —-or intellect, feelings, and behavior. Furthermore, as I understand it, having one’s “heart” changed or conformed to God’s will is a process. One makes the decision to surrender to God on an issue (like forgiveness of a hurt) and, over time, the feelings or emotions begin to line up with the decision. Eventually, too, one’s behavior gets in line with the decision and the emotions.
It’s clear to me that my decision to forgive, sincerely made, is still somewhat ahead of my emotions on the matter and may be responsible for the dread and timidity that I have felt at times in the presence of this individual, which is deplorable behavior, especially when it is someone that I love.
It’s times like these that I wish I had the ability, like God, to simply forget the wrong along with the forgiving of it. But, in my Romans 8:28 way, I pondered why would God have allowed this pain to have occurred with someone I love and why now would He allow me to feel it again so acutely?
Interestingly, over the last few years I have been seeking to know God more, asking to be able to love as He loves, to be merciful as I have experienced His mercy. As I struggled with these feelings tonight I realized that that is probably just what He is allowing me to understand….I loved someone in the best way that I knew how and in return I received accusations and rejections and suspicions about my motives and even, at one point, a dismissal that more or less made me irrelevant. “If you, then, an imperfect parent, know how to give good gifts, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts unto you.” I’m grateful that God is so much greater than I am, in being able to both forgive AND forget the times I’ve hurt Him. I could not bear to think of Him hurting each time He was around me or thought of me the way I experienced this memory of pain tonight. I trust that He will give me the progress with the emotional and behavioral follow through on forgiving this hurt that will allow me to avoid such an ambush in the future.