A few months ago, my husband (Andy) and I were going through the painful process of buying a new car after an accident. (My son is always happy to pipe in at this part of the story to make sure everyone knows the car accident was a result of Mommy running a red light. Thank you, Judson, for clarifying…)
First – thanks to God that no one was injured – property can be replaced. That is a God moment all in itself!
But we still needed to buy the new car. We had to deal with the insurance company, the impound lot on a busy Tuesday after a holiday weekend, cranky parking garage attendants, loan paperwork. Through all of it I am trying my very hardest to always shine God’s love in the midst of this annoying life experience. Talk about constant internal struggle… I’ll confess – I have the unfortunate characteristic of hanging on to anger; I let things simmer. I angrily playback conversations in my head and dream up the spiteful things I could have said. This is not a fun way to live life.
As we were wrapping up the loan on the new car, I had a frustrating experience at the bank – an “encounter” with a less than helpful bank employee. So, as normal, I sat all afternoon angrily focused on my conversation at the bank. But this particular afternoon, I was also talking to God – asking to help me get over it, help me forgive!
This day happened to be a Wednesday, so Andy and I loaded up the kids and went to church for FUEL, the weekly mid-week education and worship program. We were teaching a class on marriage. The topic that night was – of all things – forgiveness. At first I focused on applying what we discussed to my marriage. That is what the class was about, right? But I kept getting pushed into thinking about people outside – like the woman at the bank.
We talked about how forgiveness was a gift, and the most important part of relationship. We talked about how our human capacity to forgive is limited (mine perhaps more so than others). But the forgiveness that Jesus brings is unlimited, and it is through this forgiveness that we can forgive.
Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32
This was not news to be, but was exactly what I needed to hear that day.
A few days later I was with Judson and he wronged me – a very small infraction. I was disappointed, not angry. But he was devastated. With tears in his big, brown eyes he said genuinely “Mommy – do you forgive me?” And of course I did – instantly. But that moment made me think that if forgiveness is so easy for those I love the most, why can’t I work to offer that to others? That is what Jesus wants for us, right?!?
There are other stories; other nudges from God to help me change and to help me let go of the anger and resentment and forgive. I see God working. I have no doubt that there will be other God moments as I learn to let go. And I hope that I’m paying attention. God is there ready to help – I just need to be paying attention.