14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:14 New International Version (NIV)
A little over a week ago we went on vacation. It was an amazing feeling to get away with my family and have no where to be at any particular moment. We had a wonderful time biking around Mackinac Island “Oh, Mom, don’t ride in the horse poop!” and eating way too much fudge “Mom, can we have fudge for breakfast?”. As always though, there were times when the kids were tired because we were too busy having fun to take naps so they got cranky and started fighting. At one point I pulled Matthew aside and tried to calm him down a bit and I said, “Buddy, you’ve got to learn to slow down when you get angry. You can’t hit Lindsay just because she makes you mad. You’ve got to forgive her.”
“I don’t want to forgive her.”
“Okay fiiiiiinnnnnne- uh” he interrupted with a stomp and a sigh. (Clearly my method of calming him down was doing wonders.) “But I’m only going to forgive her halfway.”
“Well, Matthew, what would it be like if Mommy and Daddy only forgave you halfway when you made us angry?” He looked at the carpet and grimaced. Another huge sigh.
“Well then I’m going to forgive her halfway and a little bit more.”
I’m sure Matthew has already forgotten about this incident but it sure has been weighing on my mind a ton. I think God likes to use my little impers to teach me lessons when really, isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? (By the way, “impers” is the made up word my dad used to call my sister, Lori, and I=kids. Although I did look up type up? the word “imp” in the dictionary and the first thing it says is a little devil or demon and the second definition is a mischievous child. My dad swears we were great kids so when I hear his term I associate it with fondness and that’s how I intend to use it.)
Anyway, Matthew’s words have kinda stuck with me these last ten days or so and I’ve been thinking about all the times I’ve only forgiven someone “halfway and then a little bit more.” I mean, I don’t actually like to admit it, but it’s true. And unfortunately, after I really reflected about it, I realized that I do this with the one person I love most in the whole world-my husband. How many times have I forgiven Mike, and I tell myself I’ve forgotten all about it, but then during times when I’m most frustrated with him all those moments that I’ve already “forgiven” him for come back to the forefront of my mind? What’s more, is you wouldn’t believe the kinda things that set me off. They’re really silly. Honestly. I truly believe my husband is one of the most perfect people on the planet (after my grandpa 🙂 ) so when I vent about him it sounds ridiculous because nothing he does is typical mad-at-your-husband stuff (or at least I don’t think it is, but I part of me hopes it is because then I’m not super shallow and I can feel a little less guilty because maybe other wives would understand me. LOL)
One thing that happens quite often at our house is Michael falling asleep on the couch. He works long hours and comes home with just enough time to eat dinner, relax for a bit on the couch, and then totally crash there. When we first got married and he was in medical school, I thought this was adorable. Usually this would happen while we were lying on the couch together watching TV with him against the couch holding me. I’d ask something like, “Babe, you ready for bed?” and he wouldn’t answer me and I would tilt my head and look up at him fondly thinking, Awe, he’s working so hard that he can’t even make it to bed. Sweet, right? Typical first few years of marriage stuff. Before kids and during honeymoon stage stuff. Eye-roll. Now, I’m getting the kids in the bath, cleaning dirty dishes from dinner, getting the kids in pajamas, mopping the water spilled on the bathroom floor (“It was the mean old crocodile, not me, Mom!”) while Mike has fallen asleep to ESPN in the background. Now my thoughts are, Are you serious? He’s asleep. I can’t see why he’s sleeping already. It’s not like his days are longer than mine. Wasn’t it his turn to take the kids to bed? Well if I had a chance to sit down maybe I’d fall asleep too! It’s a good thing I didn’t already put something pretty on. Geesh!
I know, as I write this I’m giggling to myself because it’s silliness. But there are nights when this can make me really angry and there have been times when I have woken up in the morning and I don’t want to hear the redundant, “I’m sorry, about last night, Lis. I don’t even know what happened,” and I don’t even want to talk to him. It’s crazy when I think about it, but why does it make me so angry? It’s because I haven’t totally forgiven him for the times before. Suddenly I’m not mad because he fell asleep tonight, I’m mad because he fell asleep on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and it’s Saturday and there he is snoring and twitching on the couch.
I’ve heard sermons about how it’s possible to forgive and not forget, but I feel that if I’ve truly forgiven someone then that instance shouldn’t be the first thing I think about when they’ve made me angry again. Maybe it’s okay not to forget something, but I don’t think it should be remembered so easily either. After all, God doesn’t remember mine.
25 “I, even I, am he who blots out
your transgressions, for my own sake,
and remembers your sins no more.
Isaiah 43:25 New International Version (NIV)
I know I will not clearly see my friend
Through a fog of past confrontations.
I know I will not hear my friend
Through the echo of hurtful conversations.
I know I will not understand my friend
Through my own misinterpretation.
I know I will not recognize my friend
Through a shattered mirror reflection.
Clear the fog, Lord so I can see my friend without past hurts.
Mute the volume of past arguments so I can hear new words.
Help me Lord, forgive my friend the way you’ve forgiven me
Mend my broken relationships, Father, but erase my memory.