Four or five years ago I had a really bad experience with a woman in a local business. I made a flippant comment which she took as a personal affront. When I apologized and tried to explain my comment, she got really nasty and definitely put me in my place. When I left that day I told The Furry Guy that he was going to have to deal with her from that moment forward. He told me that she often treated him badly, too. She was only one person in a business that did really good work at reasonable prices, so we weren’t going to stop doing business there. I just had no desire to face her again.
I realized fairly soon that her reaction probably had little to do with me. I forgave her long ago. Still, I managed to avoid actually going into that business until yesterday. I knew that I had to go in, so on the way I had a little conversation with the Lord. I confessed that, while I had forgiven her, I still dreaded another confrontation with her. I asked Him to help me set aside the memory of that encounter and any residual ill feelings. I asked Him to please keep me from doing or saying anything that would hurt or offend her.
I’m pleased to report that the encounter was entirely pleasant.
It’s amazing how much forgiving someone can help. If I’d gone in there with a chip on my shoulder chances are good that the outcome would have been completely different.
Years ago someone was talking to me about forgiveness. It was his opinion that unless someone apologized for their behavior and was truly contrite you would be an idiot to forgive them. They didn’t deserve it. He couldn’t be more wrong. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. It’s all about not allowing that person’s actions to take up residence in my heart and mind. Sometimes it’s necessary for me to choose forgiveness over and over until it sticks. It’s worth the effort.