I’d like to give you a glimpse of my Wednesday morning.
I was sitting at Bob Evans having a wonderful, deep, real conversation with a good friend of mine when my phone lit up. My wife was calling and she knew I was in the middle of a breakfast so I realized this must be important.
Indeed it was. I had accidentally kept the kids car seats in my car, and was now 15 miles from home. My daughter had gymnastics in Delphos and was going to be late without the car seats.
At first, I told my wife that Anna would have to miss gymnastics because I wouldn’t make it home in time and she would be a half hour late. Then my perspective changed with one simple sentence. “Well you’ll have to tell your daughter that.”
My heart was broken and immediately I knew I had to go home. My daughter loves gymnastics and would be so disappointed missing it. Getting to a little was better than missing out completely.
Two days later, I sit with my daughter and we are having this conversation.
Me: How did you feel when you thought you might miss gymnastics?
Anna: Sad. Angry. Mad. Frustrated. I was worried that you wouldn’t get home in time. I was just afraid that I couldn’t be able to go to gymnastics.
Me: How did you feel when I got home?
Anna: HAPPY! Like a snappy!
Me: When I got home, I asked you to forgive me. What did you feel?
Anna: Happy! You made it! I forgave you!
I was immediately struck by the complete forgiveness of my daughter. There was no sign of resentment or anger. Those feelings she had been experiencing just 20 minutes earlier were replaced by joy and love for her Daddy.
This is how forgiveness should look. How many times do I say that I forgive someone, but I leave a piece of resentment in the relationship? How often do I find myself trusting that person less because of how they have disappointed me? Do I ever let forgiveness fully restore the friendship? Do I forgive like Anna did?
I think this is what Jesus was alluding to in Matthew 18.21-22.
“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
We are to have a spirit of forgiveness. We are to be grace-givers, not record-keepers. The next time I find myself harboring resentment, I am going to think of my daughter’s smile and joy, how quick she was to forgive me, and how, instantly, my debt to her was gone.
Jesus offers the same forgiveness to us. Maybe you or someone you know needs reminded of that today.