Saturday, June 1, 2013

But I Can't Forgive Her!

It finally happened, Adela got a taste of her own medicine.  Once upon a time, there was a little girl who could not keep a secret.  Try as she might, at the very first opportunity of a new listening ear, she would blurt out the secret and cause the utmost grief in the betrayed sister (or mother, who really would have preferred to keep her grumpy mood private instead of being prayed for openly in Bible class).
As fate would have it, Adela had a little sister (imagine here a small smirk from offended parties).  Her little sister, unwittingly blurted out a hint at a gift that Adela was creating as a surprise.  Oh the tears of betrayal and the anger of lost confidence that raged through our house on that fateful day!!!  After several hours of crying, sulking, going-to-be-by-herself-ing, and trying to be friends again, Adela came in to confess to me, "Mom, I've tried at least four times, but I can't forgive her.  How do I forgive her when I can't stop being mad?"
Wow! Out of the mouth of babes!!!  Forgiveness is one of those things that will always be an enigma to me.  How can God forgive me, and actually forget and wipe my slate clean?  There is a difference between forgiving and forgetting, right?  But how does that really work?  And are we called to do that very same thing to others?  We are told that our forgiveness of others is tied directly to our being forgiven.  But, Adela is right...forgiving is hard.   Is it something that starts inside of you and works its way out, or something that we display through behavior and then eventually begin to feel in the heart?  I suppose it is one of those things that I am still learning and will continue to learn throughout this life.  What I do know is that it is an incredible burden lifted (both to the forgiven and the forgiver) when forgiveness is offered, whether deserved or asked for.  We've all been at the mercy of others because of our errant actions, so shouldn't we be generous with our grace as well?!  We've all been crushed and broken when hurt by someone and then soothed and healed when we truly forgive and move on.
I reminded Adela of the many occurrences of her doing the very same offense, and how hurt the offended party felt, but what a relief it was and how thankful she was when forgiveness was granted.  It's not always easy, but we are called to do it...not just four times, but seventy times seven.
That little girl who had been the offender and the forgiven, turned into the offended and the forgiver, then lived happily ever, learning over and over again that God's plan of forgiveness heals all wounds.