Over the last several days I've been thinking a lot about Forgiveness. On Sunday, the sermon at church revolved around it. We had the bible story about how we should not just forgive 7 times, but 77 times or 7 times 70 times (some number that is supposed to mean an infinite number of times was the interpretation). The new priest at our church has a 2 yr old & a 3 yr old & he told about how he & his wife have taught their daughters to always say they are sorry when they hurt each other & to forgive when someone hurts them & says sorry. This was something that really struck me.
Since moving to the South, I have discovered that people here say "sorry" or some other form of apology for just about everything they do. Really, I get soooo tired of having people tell me they are sorry all the time for things that didn't bother me in the first place. I guess it is one of those things that comes from them having been raised to be polite. I was not raised that way & I'm sure it is obvious way too often that I am a RUDE "not from around here" kind of person. I do not apologize for opening doors for others, I do not apologize for taking more than 2 rings to answer the phone at my own home, I do not apologize to the cashiers at the grocery for not bringing in my own cloth bags....there are tons of things I encounter others apologizing for on a daily basis & I often find myself feeling hostile to the chronic apologizers. My youngest son is a chronic apologizer, he also says "Hi, how are you?" everytime he sees you, even if it has only been 5 minutes since the last time he walked past you in the kitchen. I find myself telling him that either he has no REASON to be sorry, or (when there really is a reason & it is the multiple time today that he has done the very same thing & apologized for it) that he needs to STOP doing whatever it is...apologizing is not enough. But I can do this because he is my child, with other people who continually do the same annoying things & apologize only to do it AGAIN, I seem to have no recourse other than to stop being around them. Now, back on track, I find that maybe I am the one who isn't learning the lesson....maybe all the apologizing around me has been targeted at getting me to learn to offer forgiveness.
After the church service on Sunday, I heard several profound stories of forgiveness. The first was about a local pyscologist who's mother was murdered. He later wrote a book about how he forgave the person who killed his mother & how by forgiving him he was able to move forward in his own life. Everyone listening was touched by the story & I heard several mumblings of "I don't know if I could do that".....I think being able to forgive no matter how BIG the wrong is, really is what being a Christian is about. In July, my Oldest son overslept & didn't go to a performance a friend invited him to at his church.....the friend's father was killed when a gunman opened fire during that performance. The members of that church are still struggling with their losses, but many have found it in their hearts to forgive that man and have publicly opposed him facing the death penalty. My son has not reached a point of being able to forgive, but looking back I'm not sure forgiveness was ever one of the things Hubby or I taught our kids.
My friend Stacey who passed away on Friday had many unjust things done to her by people who she trusted. She often came to her friends with tales of the latest injustice & we were always outraged for her, often it seemed even more outraged than she was herself and while we (her friends) have held tightly to these grudges & have talked amongst ourselves about how much we would like the people who wronged her to face some ultimate karmic justice, Stacey found it in her huge heart to forgive them all. She is at peace now and the care of her children is entrusted to people who made choices that hurt Stacey, but hopefully those same people will be influenced for the good by having known and been loved by someone so caring & giving. I am searching my own soul today looking for a way to truly Forgive the injustices done to my friend & I feel like when I find the power within myself to offer that forgiveness I will truly be a better person. Thank you, Stacey!