Today is a guest post by my buddy David Richardson. David and I met when we were doing doctoral work together, and have kept up our friendship through the miracle of the interwebs. I asked him to write us a blog post, and he wrote a very good one. You should check out David’s blog at http://www.daviderichardson.blogspot.com. You can also follow him on Twitter@davidrich70.
For a moment, I was an angry Dad.
Early on a Saturday morning, I was watching my six year old son play goalie in a YMCA soccer game. Emerson was really doing well in defending his goal. Finally, a kid from the other team managed to get a great kick past my son and score on him. That did not bother me. I knew that was eventually going to happen. But what got to me was what happened next: the kid who scored the goal stood there, pointed at my Emerson, and had a few “choice words” for him. I could hear the trash talk on the sidelines where I was standing. My son just stood there and said nothing back to the bully from the other team.
That’s what made me angry.
I did not like seeing my boy called out like that. So I walked over behind the goal and stood there a few feet from my son as the game continued. I kept saying “You’re doing good, boy! I’m proud of you. Keep it up. Daddy’s right here with you.” He couldn’t say anything back because the game was going on. But he was nodding to let me know he heard me.
Finally, it was halftime. I walked out onto the field and hugged my son. Then I asked him how he felt about what happened. Emerson looked at me, smiled, and said, “It’s ok, Dad. I already forgave that boy.”
I was not angry anymore. Not at all. Instead, I was inspired by that sacred moment on the YMCA soccer field in central Florida.
Forgiveness. What a beautiful thing. It’s not always easy. But it is always right.
I’ve come to realize that when we forgive, we do two things: (1) Refuse revenge. (2) Bypass bitterness. It does not mean what the other person did to us is “ok”. But it does mean we choose not to pay them back or stew inside with bitterness.
I’ve forgiven folks before. And I’ve needed folks to forgive me along the way too. Every time it happens, I am reminded that few things are more beautiful and powerful than that.
That’s the Gospel. God forgives us when we lie on a tax form, cheat on a business trip, gossip on the phone, or bully on the soccer field. Then we are in turn asked to extend each other the same blessing.
Life’s too short to stay angry and lick our wounds as the victim. There comes a point where we have to let it go and forgive. And when we do, we heal enough to move on with the life God has laid out for us.
Emerson reminded me of an awesome truth that day. Forgiveness is the way to go. Always.
May God help us all forgive each other in the same way He has forgiven us.