It was an exercise in forgiveness. I stood in a room with others, a list in hand of offenses and offenders, only mine was marked by ink of imagination. When they tore their papers, I tucked mine away. I wanted to forgive, but I also wasn’t finished being angry. I wanted to send my list by mail to the offenders, or tuck it under their windshields as a notice of violation. Even if it was just a blank piece of paper imprinted with the words I was offended … but that would seem nutty. So instead, I went home.
My six year old overheard me singing a line to song about forgiveness. Her response was light and childlike, “Of course, Mommy. Why wouldn’t anyone do that?”
13 But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” 2 Kings 5:13 NLT.
If she and her sister are wrapped in dispute, I get between them and have the offender speak the offense and apologize. The other one follows up with forgiveness. They go on about their day like nothing happened. It’s a pretty easy formula when you’re in elementary school. When does that change? Is it when no one owns up to fault? Or when the offense is repeated over and over … on purpose?
In his book, The Anger Solution, John Lee proposes writing down the offense, what you wish you had said and what you wish you had heard in response.
Those initial wounds still hurt when someone else bumps up against them–and maybe there is sense in going back to heal what’s underneath instead of covering it up with thoughts like I’m fine … It doesn’t matter … It’s no big deal. Maybe it’s time to sit with the Lord and tell him: Lord, when they did that, it hurt.
5 In my distress I prayed to the Lord,
and the Lord answered me and set me free.
6 The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.
What can mere people do to me?
7 Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me.
I will look in triumph at those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in people. Psalm 118:5-8 NLT
Naaman is washed clean of his disease by obedience and faith. Daniel prays a lengthy confession for mercy. Paul urges prayer.
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. 1 Timothy 2:1-6 NLT.
And the Psalms testify:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 118:1 NLT