Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Should I forgive as many as seven times?” Jesus said, “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22 CEB
Twenty-five years ago, I got a call on a Saturday morning that had me racing out the door within seconds. My sister had been beaten by her husband. As I drove at breakneck speed between our homes my heart, like the Grinch’s heart, constricted as I thought about that man!
My sister’s now ex-husband Richard had chipped her ribs and bruised her body when he came in from a drunken all nighter.
I have not forgotten. I also did not forgive him for two decades.
In those two decades I spoke ill of him at every opportunity. My stomach became a knot when his name came up. My face turned red and I could feel the anger rise in me when I remembered.
It wasn’t until my daughter, my beloved ginger haired baby girl began a writing project about Richard and his role and relationships within our family that my heart was finally released from its grinch-like prison.
My daughter Jessica barely remembered Richard but traveled to Wisconsin to see him. She later spoke and wrote about a deeply wounded but good man who was suffering the consequences of many bad life choices.
Somehow, and I don’t quite know how, my daughter helped me to forgive Richard. Somehow I released my anger and my constricted heart grew.
I did not and have not forgotten.
But in the releasing of my anger and hatred for him, I discovered some of the royalty within not only myself but in him. I glimpsed the image of God which we both share as human beings.
The Telephone Call May 17, 2012