Guess you could say I’m a “both sides guy” on that issue. There certainly have been a number of times in my life, well into three digits, quite possibly four, where it’s what I’ve needed. Prayed for. Languished over.
Flipping that one over to the other side, there’ve been a substantial number of times I’ve had to give it. It’s almost never easy. If it was effortless, it would mean I wasn’t transgressed in the first place. That’s what makes forgiveness important.
We all know what it takes to seek forgiveness. To do it properly, the one who crossed a line must own the wrongdoing without reservations and request absolution from two sources. The person wronged is the most obvious target. Our Father is the one often overlooked. Still, the doer of the misdeed must take credit for it and plead to be forgiven.
It’s possible to fake the humility and acceptance of blame. To put on an air of really being sorry when it’s untrue. If so, the one wronged may honestly provide amnesty until he-she later finds out by repetition the wrongdoer was lying. At that point, other than in the insane situations of repeat domestic violence, absolution will likely not be forthcoming. Either way, if the culprit slid a line of bull past the one wronged, our Father knows better. At a later point in time, the miscreant will pay for the misdeed and the cost will be far higher.
To be the one doing the forgiving requires empathy and understanding, along with the ability to accept no one’s perfect. The only ones above forgiving those who are honestly sorry … or who seem that way … are those so perfect they’ve never harmed or hurt anyone. The last of us to do that was killed on a cross 2,021 years ago, so I think the rest of us are in the other group.
Back to me, since I’m in the crosshairs on this one. I’m the one who must forgive or take the only other choice. That would be to ban the transgressor from my life. Turn my back on him forever. Yet, what do we do if the one who did the misdeed no longer remembers it? What if he had his own motivations, wrong or not, to do as he did? Even if he apparently now regrets it, am I “big enough”, mature enough, loving enough to put it behind me?
The situation: day before yesterday I brought my dog home from the pound. We had a so-so first day and a much better second day. Instead of only him fawning all over me anytime he had a chance, I went to him a few times. It seemed to calm him a good deal. To take the edge off his project to drown me in affection so he’d be assured a home. Since I lived 4⅓ years without a home, dwelling in my car 1,592 days and nights, one would think I’d “get it” in that regard.
Today was his first day of “Bill’s hours”. I went to bed just before four o’clock and slept in until noon. I delayed too long after I fed him and was astounded to see him peeing on my rug right in front of me. I yelled like crazy, then put on his lead and took him outside. Nothing. All he’d do was sniff things. Frustrated, I brought him back inside. Ten minutes later, he peed on the rug a yard from the first place.
I was enraged! I stopped the process, leashed him up, and outdoors we went. I got the same nothing as before. Man, was I pissed off! With no more urination, I left the house an hour later to run three errands. When I returned home, my worst fears were realized. He’d gotten atop the kitchen table, destroyed a box of candy, (all gone now), strewed litter all over the living room floor, and even chewed on Kadiak de Kodiak, my pet stuffed bear! That’s not all! He also took a dump! In four places! Right where he’d peed on the rug!
Yeah, I yelled. I cursed and swore. I smacked him a couple times. Not hard enough to cause an injury, but I’m sure it hurt. When he continued groveling and wouldn’t get away from me, I even kicked him twice. Like I said, I was severely pissed off! This was our third day together and this is what I get out of him?
I considered taking him back to the Humane Society. That’s how mad I was. Then I realized, Hey, he’s a dog. Maybe he was angry or hurt at being chewed out for peeing on the floor. In part, that was my fault for the delay. Maybe he didn’t think it was wrong? Nope. He knew better. I could tell by the way he greeted me. So, he had his reasons, whatever they might be, and I need to make a decision. What should I do? That was my question.
A compromise was struck. I can forgive, sometimes reluctantly, but I do piss-poor at the art of forgetting. I still have a plastic-coated wire cable with padlocks on it. It’s a safekeeping tool I devised when I had my two Irish wolfhounds. One goes around the neck, the other was used to attach the dog to something unmovable. As docile as they are, an Irish wolfhound could be stolen very easily. This time, however, I’ll use it to make sure my new dog, a transgressor, doesn’t get free to destroy anything else. I’ll do it until … whenever.
Without question, The Holy Spirit will let me know when it’s been long enough. We’re supposed to forgive, but I recall nothing in God’s words saying I must forget. Dismiss it from my thoughts. So, I won’t. If you choose to e-mail me something biblical saying God did say so, you’ll be wasting your time. I never forget being wronged. Not ever.
This is a familiar takeoff on the old expression: if the dog bites you once, that’s the dog’s fault. If the dog bites you twice, that’s your own damned fault! I’m not gonna be bitten twice. So, I’ll forgive him. For a while, every time I leave the house, he’ll get a reminder I forgave him … and he’ll know what I forgave him for doing.
I’m just sayin’.
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