One of my favorite Sassy Bloggers (we should form a club…), Jessica, posted her Plank Pullin’ series today. I like this series. I admire Jessica’s courage to put her planks out there. You’ll notice I haven’t put any out there myself. There are two reasons for this:
– I’m lazy
– I’m a scaredy cat
But Jessica’s post today hit a particularly raw nerve with me. Forgiveness. It’s such a loaded word, isn’t it? It requires action and intention no matter what end of it you’re on. If you’re the one needing forgiveness, you must intentionally act. If you are the one to extend forgiveness you must intentionally act.
Sometimes you must do both…at the same time.
Oh forgiveness…why dost thou tease me so?
One thing I have always valued highly, a trait that was instilled by my parents, has been loyalty. I value loyalty over just about everything else. I believe in it and I try hard to live by it.
Because loyalty is so important to me, restoring relationships that have been damaged is also important. It pains me to my core to think that I have ever offended someone and generally I will go to great lengths to try and restore that relationship. Sometimes this is hard. It requires the swallowing of the pride. And my pride?
It can be a big pill to swallow.
You get the picture…
Even if I don’t understand my offense against someone, I try to make it right. When Lee and I were newly married we made our first married couple friends at our church in Texas. We had barbeque’s and took walks with this couple feeling ever so grown up and…married. They were our closest, and only, married friends in town. Or so I thought.
Lee came home from work one day and gave me a look. “I talked with Bowzer* today,” he said. “We have a problem.”
“What?” I asked.
“Princess Pea* thinks you don’t like her. She feels offended because you have never called her to get together one on one.”
*Names changed to protect the innocent. But wouldn’t it be funny to have friends named Bowzer and Princess Pea? I bet they’d be a really fun couple…Can you tell my kids have been playing a lot of Super Mario Bros?
Now, let the record show that I think this is a silly little thing to get upset about. I did then and I still do. But that wasn’t the point – the point was that I had somehow inadvertently offended someone and in doing so a friendship was damaged. Never mind the fact that I am suckalicious at talking on the phone – always have been. That’s why I don’t call people very often.
I sat on this for a few days mulling over what to do. I mean, it really was kind of petty. Because the fact of the matter was this girl had never called me either. But I couldn’t feel right if I didn’t at least call and make things right. So I did. It was terribly awkward and uncomfortable, but I asked her forgiveness for hurting her feelings and asked if she’d like to get together for coffee.
We never did do that. And I haven’t heard from that couple in almost ten years now. So the issue obviously wasn’t mine, but I felt better knowing I had tried to make things right. I wanted forgiveness, truly and deeply.
Recently another issue has cropped up that has affected me a bit. A friendship ruined over something silly, trivial and petty. I tried to make it right and instead met resistance.
And unity was not restored but was, instead, further denied. And I had a part in it. That makes me sad.
I don’t like that. I hate disunity with others. I want it to be right. I feel all Monica Gellar…I want her to like me, dang it. (Five points to anyone who remembers that FRIENDS episode) And I keep questioning myself, looking inside, trying to decide what action I need to take to restore unity. But I’m a little scared, because last time I tried that it only got worse.
It’s a tough one, isn’t it? Forgiving, moving forward and loving unconditionally. Whew. As Jessica put it:
“It’s one thing to forgive someone and a whole ‘nother thing to be reconciled with them, and Christians can be so dad blame unrepentant of their arrogance, or unhospitality, or fill-in-the-blank that I occasionally find a very hard time building bridges with them.
And yeah, I’m on the guilty/unrepentant end sometimes, too.”
So on I press, ever aware of the fact that I am only responsible for my own actions. How can I live today in a way that restores unity and peace with others? Because I value loyalty. I don’t like to end or walk away from friendships.
So what is my plank?
I think it is my indignation when others don’t value loyalty as I do. I tend to get judgemental. I don’t like it. I’m constantly working on dying to myself and I am an admitted work in progress.
My deepest desire is to continue to search my own heart and seek to live whole with others, making things right when I offend and offering grace if ever needed. And drop the judgement. It’s very unbecoming.
It doesn’t match any of my outfits.
So Jessica, consider that my first plank pulled.