Tomorrow I move out after living here for three years and I am excited. Technically, I have until the end of the month… legally, I have until September 6, but “the cloud” is moving on and I’m not stupid. In the Bible, God led the folks on the exodus by being either a pillar of fire or a cloud. Even a dummy could see when it was time to move on. While I do not see a physical cloud, I know that God is calling me to follow him away from this place. After everything that has gone on here and in my other living situations, I’ve learned one major lesson: in your anger do not sin.
To avoid doing that I have had to learn how to “speak the truth in love.” It hasn’t been an easy lesson to learn. In the past, I left living situations angry and bitter. I held on to resentment like a pit bull gnawing on a femur. I was mad at God for letting me get hurt and I cursed people. It would be really easy to curse my landlord. He’s so curse worthy, but to do so would prove I’d learned nothing. Tonight I sat down to draft an email I plan to send him once I’m gone. It’s long, but I want to share it here because it surprised the daylights outta’ me. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the not so innocent. As you read it, please pray for him and all of the people he has hurt:
August 27, 2016
Now that I’ve moved out I wanted to clarify my last email to you in light of your last email to me. When I said that I hadn’t meant to offend you with my email, I meant that. But please don’t take that as an apology. I stand by everything I said in that email. You thought I was judging you based on what Sarah and her husband Mitchell had said about you after you terminated them. Actually, they said very little because a while ago I told Sarah that I didn’t want to talk to her about you. It felt like gossiping and it was making me stressed out more than I already was. In the two months before she left, I actually never even spoke to Sarah. I didn’t actually see her until the day she moved out and she was in tears.
Frank, the day I moved in a former tenant tried to warn me about you before she moved out. She told me a whole bunch of stuff about you that scared me. And it wasn’t just her. The cable guy warned me about you the day he hooked up my service. Then there was that attorney from the Civil Rights Commission representing another tenant who was suing you for violating her civil rights. SHE warned me about you too. With all of those warning, I was still willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. You were fair to me and you didn’t do anything really weird, so I tried to ignore everything that I had heard. I prayed for you and I tried not to let certain things that you did bother me.
When you raised the rent last year I knew I still wanted to stay, so I cut expenses to make it work. This year, I tried everything that I could to cut even more expenses and I would have stayed, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of giving you rent checks through April up front. You would be leaving the island with thousands of dollars of my money and I have no lease. The day Sarah left she did tell me about your legal troubles with immigration. I didn’t know if that were true, but I already knew that I needed to leave. The day that I walked into my home and you were there without my permission spooked me. The fact that I could tell that you went in other times after that upset me more. I’d told you it was ok to come in, but you had to give me notice first. You never did that. You just invaded my privacy. Even still, I said nothing. Then, when I started looking at rentals in town a realtor managing the property warned me about you, too. Frank, a complete stranger warned me about you. Other landlords that I met while looking for a place told me it was illegal for you to ask for the rent checks through April up front like that and for you to enter my home without warning. They all warned me about you. And still, I said nothing. Frank, I didn’t judge you on the words of Sarah and her husband. I judged you on your actions and the warnings of many people.
Your email to me actually wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. I thought you were going to rip me a new one. Frank, is this really how you want to be known? At first, I was scared of you. Then I was angry at you. Now? I feel sad for you. Frank, you’re in your 70’s. You’ve had a bout with ill health. If you died tomorrow where would you spend eternity? I know you don’t believe in Jesus, but he believes in you. Why else would he send so many Christians to live on your land? We’ve all prayed for you at some point in time… me, Alan, Sarah, Mitchell… and you’ve managed to make us all go away. Alan lived here for eight years before you evicted him. You can make us all leave, but you cannot run away from Jesus or hide from the fact that he is real. You have made some choices that have gotten you a bad rep, but you shouldn’t be upset about me judging you. You should be concerned about God, the Judge who judges justly. One day you will stand before him and have to give account for everything you’ve ever done to all of the people he placed in your life. It is a scary thing to face the judgement of the Living God, Frank.
I forgive you.. IF you’re still reading this, by now you’re pissed. How dare I say all of this to you?! But from where I sit, how dare I not? It doesn’t matter if I forgive you. I’m not ever likely to see you again. It matters that Jesus forgives you and that you are not so far gone that you refuse to ask for his forgiveness. I meant what I said in my email. I am thankful that I had this place to live because I needed to heal and to get stable. Besides my obvious health problems, I have Bipolar Disorder. I struggle with deep depression and suicidal episodes. That’s why I avoid conflict like the plague. I let people walk all over me. I cry and I hide. I couldn’t figure out why God would send me to live here and then throw all that stress at me. When I moved in, I asked my friends to come for a house warming so we could pray a blessing over this place. We also prayed for you. I believe God shielded me these past three years from all the drama. I am not the scared and sick woman I was when I moved in. So, you see, I had to write that email to you because I am healed and I am stable. God used you to help accomplish that in me. So, again, I say thank you.
Please do not bother to send me another mean email. I will not read it, but I will pray for you. I will continue to pray for you. One day, your past will catch up with you, Frank. But before it does, ask God to forgive you now and let him heal what is broken in you.
Peace and grace,