Forgiveness and the meanest word I could think of [Day 4 of Thankfulness]
currently: listening to 'The World You Want' by Switchfoot
Day 4 - Forgiveness and the meanest word I could think of:
Not too long ago, I built up the courage to apologise to someone I had treated badly last year. You don't need to hear the context of who deserved what - what mattered was making things right. I have a lot of guilt from the way events had happened and I needed peace so I could finally close a chapter with a good ending. It was a weight to lift off my heart and head, because guilt can live for a long time.
Apologising; like REALLY apologising, is scary. It's vulnerable. It's saying we didn't control our own actions like we should have. It's letting the defence of pride go, getting down on your knees and saying "I'm sorry. I was wrong." And just hoping you don't get kicked while you're down.
It's so easy to be influenced to think or act badly, or get caught up in our own emotions and problems to act out against others. But it's no excuse.
I remember when I was about 9 years old and these two girls at school, who were some of my "best friends" at the time, kept jokingly stealing something from me during lunchtime. I don't even remember what it was we were chasing after... probably something as stupid as a sports ball.
But I can recall how angry my other friend and I were getting over this stupidly petty thing, chasing my two other friends across the entire school ground. In fact I got so angry that as soon as I caught up with them, I yelled at them and called them the meanest word I could think of.
"You guys are jerks!" I yelled across the toy track.
(I heard that word in 'The Baby-Sitters Club movie' once and it seemed like a good word to use at the time...)
They stopped, and turned to show how their bright mischievous smiles were replaced with scowls, and then this darkness crossed over their faces. I wasn't playing a game anymore, and neither were they. I remember storming away, my friend chasing after me, telling me how impressed she was at what I said. At the time I thought I felt good, but inside of me was the bitter taste of their hurt. Years on, I can still remember the dark look on their faces. It's never left me.
I never properly apologised. Mainly cause kids just get over it in a week and will play tag again together at lunchtime. But my actions in that moment still remain in my memories.
It's much easier to say bad things and act in bad ways than it is to slow down, take a step back and remember everyone's humanness. Jesus was asked how often should you forgive another person - he answered 'seventy times seven'. But of course he's not saying that because the exact science of forgiveness is 490 strikes and you're out. It's more because it's really stupid to think you have to keep a record of all their wrongs - because we're clearly not flawless either.
Also - having a bad attitude doesn't make you sassy, confident, or stronger either. It just makes you real unpleasant to be around and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
I never know if my apologies do justice. Apologising can be scary, but the guilt and regret is far worse than anything else. And there's no thankfulness quite like finding forgiveness. It's worth letting yourself be vulnerable for.
For the month of January 2016, I'm writing 31 personal stories about things in my life I'm thankful for. See all my posts during my month of thankfulness here.