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My son, Kir was upset about his lunch bag going missing at school and vowed to find out who took it and get even with them. We were riding in the car and I tried to explain that we never really know what other people are feeling, dealing with, and going through, that might cause them to do things that just don’t make sense according to us and our view of the world. However, I could see from his baffled expression in my rear view mirror that this was all a little too much for him so I just let it sit there for a while.
So after school he came home to these two brown paper lunch bags on the coffee table. “What can you tell me about these two bags just by looking I asked?” “They’re both the same,” he quickly replied. “Ok, pick them up, now are they both the same?” He figured out immediately there was something different about each of the bags but was still unsure about what it was. So I asked him to close his eyes and put his hand in each bag and describe the contents. He put his hand in the first bag. “This one is soft and silky.” That was the bag filled with flour. Then he put his hand in the next bag and winced. “Oh it’s hard and prickly.” That was the bag filled with the spikiest mulch I could find out back.
So the lunch bags are like people. It’s easy to assume that everyone is the same, similar to us, or at least coming to the game with a similar set of experiences to guide them, but that is just not always the case. We never know what’s really inside someone and what causes them to act the way they do toward us.
The truth is there is a mixture of flour and mulch in all of our lunch bags. I know I have hurt people in ways and topics that are outside of my area of focus or world view. I am trying to stop and recognize these myself and ask for forgiveness when it happens. One recent morning I was curt with the operator at the cab company. I was stressed about my son not making his train which in NO WAY justifies my being less than kind and grateful for her help. I felt like a real douchebag so I called back to apologize. When I did, she said “that’s ok Kristen, have a great day.” She knew it was me, she offered her forgiveness easily and wished me well. I was overwhelmed by her kindness and it reaffirmed my decision to ask for forgiveness.
Asking for forgiveness is the flip side of forgiving, you never really have just one or the other, we all have both a little flour and a little mulch in our lunch sacks.
Photo credit: super cute huh? I found it on etsy and have to give mad props to this guy, check out Ty’s shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LifetimeLeatherCo?ref=unav_listing-h
Welcome to my world! I decided to start with a series of series because, well, I heart irony! I can’t think of a better way to simplify your life then to lighten your spiritual load so forgiveness seemed like a great place to begin. First in this series, let's lay the foundation by looking at what the bible has to say about the idea. Yeah, the Bible, it turns out life did come with an instruction manual and I can tell you the insights the bible provides on forgiveness are (not surprisingly) life changing. Then we will move onto looking at the whole matter from the perspective of others (yeah, that’s a real thing too ;-) and lastly we’ll delve into practical, hands on ideas to send you on your merry way! That's three post (hellooo series!) so lets jump on in.
So I made a very short list of people I wanted, no wait, needed, to forgive and curled up in bed with the Bible. My first shock came when I learned that if you forgive someone of their sin, they are gone for good. Not the actual person, it turns out, just their sins go away ;-). But really, in John 20:23 (The message) it says: “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good.” What an amazing step to take right? I’ve been praying on this myself and actually feel really awesome in the joy of playing my part. As unnatural as it might first seem, this knowledge has turned out to be a really liberating part of the whole forgiveness process. Certainly I feel far, far better than before when I cringed at the mere thought of someone. Now I smile, I really do!
You better be ready to pony up though, because in Luke 7:47 we learn that, “if the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal. OK, gotta bring it, duly noted. I was also stupefied in contemplation when I found James 5:16. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so you can live together whole and healed.”That last step is doozy and in some cases, maybe not always fully possible, for a variety of reasons, but just imagine the possibilities when you can not only forgive but also heal and live whole and joyful. Yes please! In Romans 5:20 aggressive forgiveness is referred to as grace and “grace invites us into life”. Suddenly any logic I had attached to the idea of carrying around a grudge had been replaced with a more than compelling shift in my perspective and the very real reward of knowing the power of forgiveness myself.
I'm working on it. Like anything else It does takes practice, that’s ok I suppose. Start with the guy who took your parking spot this morning and work your way up. The next time someone wrongs you just look at them, smile and think to yourself, “Dude, I’m going to forgive you so hard!”