Forgive those you thought you never could
September 7, 2018
Have you ever done something you thought you would never do?
I am thinking about over the last 20 years of my life. I have done things I thought I would never do.
Here is a partial list:
• tried to water ski once again at my age when I have not water-skied in 40 years;
• touched a live rattlesnake;
• walked across and back the San Francisco bridge when I am afraid of heights, much less deep, deep water;
• kayaked for the first time and then a strong wind came up on the lake and I had to be rescued;
• water rafted in surging waters in Colorado;
• bought miniature donkeys for pets and LOVE them!;
• baited a fish hook with a live minnow;
• retired and still don’t feel old;
• hiked to the top of a mountain in Colorado;
• corresponded with a child in Columbia who is in need;
• gave away some antiques that I thought I would never part with;
• became a caregiver;
• earned a doctorate degree in education when I struggled in grade school, was placed in remedial math in junior high and didn’t even make the honor roll at Clovis High School;
• decided to quit coloring my hair and went totally gray;
• bought a Kindle and have read 239 books in the last three years;
• attended a Congressional prayer breakfast and stood in line with many famous lawmakers, preachers and national figures and no one knew us or had a clue why Mother, Susie and I were there.
Now liken that to a spiritual issue. I am thinking specifically about the act of forgiving.
I once thought that forgiving certain people was something I would never do. Have you ever forgiven someone even though you thought you could never forgive them? I spent nearly 30 years of my life harboring grudges against people who had offended me and for many years I thought I could never forgive those people.
Forgiveness was not only difficult for me; I felt forgiveness was totally underserved for the one who offended.
But over the years I have forgiven. Here is a partial list:
• forgave that professor in college who once accused me of cheating on a test when I had nothing to do with the cheating that was going on all around me and then I forgave him for lowering my final grade from an “A” to a “C” just because of his suspicion;
• forgave those people (whoever they are) who have written anonymous letters over the years criticizing me and my writing;
• forgave that neighbor who made our dogs bark and then turned and called the police on us for our barking dogs;
• forgave another neighbor who poisoned the trees on the west side of our yard that bordered on his yard;
• forgave those church people who hurt our family so badly in our time of overwhelming grief;
• forgave that friend who told and spread an untruth and gossiped about me years ago.
Most of all, with God’s help I have forgiven myself for the serious and sinful things I have done because I know God has forgiven me. But it was hard, even though Jesus said to do it. (Matthew 6:14)
Corrie ten Boom, the Christian who was imprisoned in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany for sheltering Jews in her home, said this about forgiveness and the process of letting go of bitterness and anger:
“If you have ever seen a country church with a bell in the steeple, you will remember that to get the bell ringing you have to tug awhile. Once it has begun to ring, you merely maintain the momentum.
“As long as you keep pulling, the bell keeps ringing. Forgiveness is letting go of the rope. It is just that simple. But when you do so, the bell keeps ringing. Momentum is still at work.
“However, if you keep your hands off the rope, the bell will begin to slow and eventually stop.”
Such is forgiveness. The path of forgiveness for me has been relieving, comforting and healing. It was not easy but I have let go of the ropes that once held me in bitterness, resentment and frustration toward those I had to forgive.
So now I am going to add forgiveness to the first list of things I thought I would never do, because God is in the equation and he helped me.
If it can happen for me … I know it can happen for you.
Judy Brandon writes about faith for The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact her at: [email protected]