Monday, January 13, 2014

Forgive Me

We all know that we're supposed to forgive...how many times? Jesus said 70 times 7, meaning however many times it takes. We all have people we need to forgive. For some of us, that may be a very difficult thing to do. Maybe you've been hurt really badly and it's just so hard to forgive. But we are commanded to forgive, and truthfully, it feels better once we do. There is a release, like we've been trying to hold back the water of a dam, and when we forgive, it's like the dam bursts and the water flows freely. We can breathe again. We can let go of the anger.

But what about when we've been on the other side? When we are the offender? What then? Do we just go through life, oblivious of the hurt we've caused and expect to be forgiven?

Some years ago, I offended a very good friend. At least, I think I did. We were friends since
college, then she moved away. We kept in contact with these old fashioned things called letters---they are these things that require something called stationery and pens and you actually write on this stationery with the pen and put it in an envelope, affix a stamp and mail it. The other person reads the letter and then does the same, hence furthering the communication.

Okay, all kidding aside. This friend was important to me because she'd been instrumental in my salvation. I'd ask her all kinds of questions about Jesus in these letters, and she'd respond, complete with biblical references. Those letters were the seeds that were sown into my salvation. You never forget that kind of friend.

Once email became popular, we resorted to that. But suddenly, the communication stopped. And my emails were not returned. I think I know what happened, but I just wrote it off, telling myself that she had over reacted and was being too sensitive. I moved on. Instead of taking responsibility, I found fault with her. Wrong!

Several years have gone by and I realized only recently, that it was my duty and responsibility to reach out and ask her for forgiveness. I still think that I didn't do anything wrong; it was simply the way she reacted to something. BUT...regardless of what I think, she was still hurt and I still managed to offend her.And it affected our relationship. So, guess what? I was wrong. And I needed to call her.

I put it off for days, telling myself that it was never a good time. But with each day, the nudging increased. I couldn't stand it anymore. Finally, one morning when it was snowing and I'd decided not to go to work until later, I picked up the phone and called her. And guess what? Nobody answered! I got the voice mail...the standard robotic voice mail no less, and I thought, "What if it's the wrong number?" The chances of that were pretty slim. It was the same number I still had programmed in my phone from many years ago.

What do you say to a voice mail message? Do I ask her to call me with no reason for suddenly calling out of the blue? Why would she call me back if she's mad at me? Do I leave an apology on the voice mail and hope that one of her kids doesn't listen to it and erase it? I decided to simply say this: "Hi, it's Mary. I haven't talked to you in a really long time, and I'm afraid I may have said something that offended you. If so, I'm sorry, and I'd love to talk to you. I'd love to hear about your kids and what's going on in your life. So, I hope that you'll call me back."

I haven't heard back from her yet. I may never hear back from her. She once told me that she was very sensitive and easily hurt. I never forgot that. It might not be as easy for her to pick up the phone and offer forgiveness as it was for me to pick up the phone and offer an apology. But I've done my part. It's not a perfect resolution, but I pray that God will soften her heart and realize that I meant no personal harm to her. I hope and pray that someday our friendship will be restored.

Friendships are too important. Family is too important. Life is too short. If you've wronged someone, maybe it's time to take responsibility and ask for forgiveness. No, it's not easy, and yes, it's humbling, but if the Holy Spirit is convicting you to do so, you know you'll never rest until you do. Don't wait years.

And if you're on the other side? If you've been wronged and someone has reached out to you with an apology, don't hold a grudge. Don't keep it close to your heart. Let it go. Stop trying to hold the dam with your sheer will, and let the waters of forgiveness flow through and around you.

Blessing Along the Path,
Mary

Song of the Day (Yes, I've used this song before...)
I'm Sorry (Brenda Lee)


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