When you’re five years old and your 13-month old brother barges right smack through the middle of your epic army man battle, you’re likely to be mad. It’s also likely that in short order your mom or some other adult on the scene will encourage you to forgive and move on.
Like much of Mom’s advice, it applies throughout life. But as we mature, the stakes skyrocket. Anger short-circuits friendships. Grudges shatter families. Too often, we’d rather give up a relationship than give up our wounds. I don’t understand this choice (even though I have made it), because relationships hold the potential for great joy, while wounds just bleed on stuff and fester and weep strange fluids right out of us.
My bonus son would have turned 34 yesterday, except he died suddenly in a motorcycle accident nine years ago. On July fourth, Aunt Jan was called home after a long battle with cancer. We never know when we may be deprived of the opportunity to make amends. Lifespans are capricious that way.
I’m pleading with you: If you’re a party to a ruptured relationship, make the first move toward reconciliation. Do it today. Do it today even if you are 100% absolutely, positively, no-doubt-about-it certain that the other guy was in the wrong.
Here are some reasons why you should:
- We never know when someone’s life will end. Today could be your last chance.
- The longer a rift goes on, the deeper and broader it grows. It sinks roots down into our hearts and around our stomachs. Then they twist and contract. And then before you know it, gangrene overtakes your soul.
- Nobody gets a medal for the longest grudge. Confine your anger to the 100-meter dash instead of making it an ultramarathon.
- Reconciliation is more important than being right or winning or holding out. Always.
- If you follow Christ, you’re commanded to forgive.
You could start like this (Okay. First-first, you pray. and then):
I’m sorry that we’ve been on the rocks. Or
Could we please let bygones be bygones? Or
Please forgive me for the wrongs I have committed. Or
I’m not sure exactly why things are so tense between us, but I want to make it right. Or, simply,
I miss you. When can we talk?
Here is the thing I want you to do (I want me to do it, too, for that matter): Turn from blaming. Forget about who was right and who was wrong and who ought to make the first move. Set aside the righteous indignation that goes along with victimhood.
That’s what it is, in the end, isn’t it? Victimhood? Just look at how poorly I’ve been treated.
Please don’t choose to be a victim. Please don’t let this broken world move right into your heart and turn everything ugly.
Go first. Please.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32 (NASB)
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