Overhearing a fight is a lot like watching a train wreck. You want to stop listening. You want to look away. But something terrible inside of you is incredibly curious about how the whole thing is going to turn out. Or maybe that’s just me.
These are a few pictures of me and my best friend, Steph. These will be the visual aid for today’s topic. Steph and I have known each other since we were eight, but we didn’t become good friends until we were sixteen. She has forgiven me for being an idiot and a jerk about twelve million times, and is an incredible friend. She has a blog too, ps (girlversusdough.com). I can truly say that I would be a different, much less likable person if she was not in my life.
I woke up to the sound of a fight on Sunday morning. As I laid in my bed, trying to convince myself to get up and make coffee (this is always a long process), I was completely blasted out by my upstairs neighbors. I felt like I was listening to one of those really intense arguments in a really cheesy Lifetime movie, but in reality, I was actually listening to two people who sounded about ready to be done with each other, because one of them was “done hearing I’m sorry.” I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them. They may plod around like elephants and wake me up every time they open their screen door above my room, but the sounds I heard Sunday morning were the sounds of two people in pain, and my heart ached for them.
Ironically, Sunday morning, church was all about forgiveness, and how we shouldn’t let our anger or resentment take over and hurt ourselves and others. Jeff said that if we do that, we end up not only hurting ourselves and those people with whom we are angry, but we are also hurting our relationship with God. God cares so much about relationships that Jesus said that if we are having a disagreement with someone, and we are trying to worship or pray to God, we needed to go find that person and make things right, as much as we possibly can, before going back to the worship. Jesus even went so far as to say that the amount of forgiveness we give to others will be the amount of forgiveness He gives to us (Matthew 6:14-15). How terrifying is that? The point is, God cares about us, and He doesn’t want us carrying around heavy grudges. They weigh us down and they make us distant from others. Withholding forgiveness is relational poison.
Our God is a relational God, which is good, because we are relational beings. Honestly. We may strive for better jobs and newer things and updated iPhones, but really, the only things that most of us are looking for are solid relationships. I’m not talking about romantic love– Lord knows that recently my gag reflex has been in full force every time I see a Kay Jeweler’s commercial. (Have you SEEN the one where it’s storming outside? What twenty-six-year-old woman is afraid of storms? HONESTLY. Look this travesty up on youtube if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Off topic? Am I off topic?
ANYWAY, I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about people to share life with. People are a precious commodity, and we can’t treat relationships like they are expendable. Every person you come in contact with will be affected in some way by your interaction with him/her. And that means that pent-up anger and holding back forgiveness from people is just plain stupid. We have to humble ourselves in order to have solid relationships.
Love the people who God puts into your life. Forgive them when they ask for you to. Ask for forgiveness when you screw up. It’s as simple as that.