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A Lesson on Forgiveness

Out with the old, in with the new:

A Lesson on Forgiveness

Growing up in a two-parent household, my eight siblings and I knew of only two, not three, branches of government: legislative and executive. Daddy represented the legislative branch; he established the law. Mama, on the other hand, represented the executive branch; she enforced the law.  It was customary that if my siblings and I did anything that warranted punishment, Mama was the officer we were likely to meet. And we knew she meant business.

Without fail, her chastisement accompanied a good talking to that included a string of reminders such as, “you’re gonna reap what you sow; whatever bed you make, that’s the bed you’ll lay; a hard head makes a soft behind.” Among the list of warnings, there was the one that stood out with me as a great teaching.  This was one was so potent, it could stand alone without any other form of reprimand. “The criminal must return to the scene of the crime; so I’ll see you on your way back around, and I’ll be there with open arms to receive you,” Mama would state in a persuasive tone.  With her pointer finger, she would draw imaginary circles on the table to help illustrate the return of a criminal to the crime scene.

The message in her teaching was two-fold. The first point was that while we had made the choice to be disobedient, there were life lessons that awaited us—lessons that would bring us to understand the value of the truth she was trying to teach us.  The second point was actually a lesson on forgiveness. The fact is, Mama knew the importance of the point she was making. But we couldn’t see it then. We just thought she was being ridiculously harsh, and surely, this wasn’t Daddy’s intention when he established the law.

In wisdom, she released us to experience life, a series of encounters that brought us right back to those earlier teachings. Could it be that Mama was right? This was a discovery we each had to make, and she allowed us each our individual journey toward truth. Back then, we saw the world through a different set of lens than did Mama. Still, she didn’t cut us off. And she never gave up on the possibility of our views being reconciled with hers. In some instances, it took years for us to see the world as she did.   

Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. Perhaps you have had estranged relationships with spouses (who may now be ex-spouses), children, parents, co-workers, neighbors, and/or friends, where you’ve parted ways because of what you considered to be irreconcilable differences. In some cases, you may have felt that the other party dealt unfairly toward you. Well, if we want to build lasting relationships, we must allow each person in the relationship his or her personal journey.  Not everyone comes to the same point of truth at the same time. Two people may be reading the same book, but they may be on a different page; and even if on the same page, they may not be reading the same paragraph. So if separation is necessary for a season, let us not give up on the possibility of being reconciled in truth. Where there is conflict, let us quickly evaluate ourselves to see what role we may have played in the difference.  Then step back and allow the other person room to grow, to see what adjustments they need to make, whether attitude or behavior.  If your arms are open, they are more likely to feel welcomed back into the community—the community of truth. This is an act of forgiveness. And it is this lesson on forgiveness that Mama displayed of which I wish to offer you as a holiday gift. While you are enjoying the season, remember the New Year is upon us. Let us not carry those old garments of un-forgiveness into the New Year. Toss them out with the holiday trash.  

Speak truth. Give others the opportunity to see with clear vision. If they should err along the way, but return with a change of heart, have your arms open to receive them, and together, walk in love.

Happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!

And remember, my friend, I’m counting on you to stay In My Korner.

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