THIS I BELIEVE

FREEDOM —  A CHOICE

A precious picture of two small children comes to my mind.  They are face to face but neither one is looking at the other.  The taller one with head down, a defiant look and set jaw, is kicking his right foot into the dirt.  The other child’s head is facing downward with a tear rolling down her face.  She is like a whimpering hurt puppy.  An adult stands next to them saying the words, “Tell your sister that you are sorry.”  This is one of those common yet unfair situations—never just one-sided but both sides are not necessarily heard.

I grew up learning more about being fair than how to forgive.  I was told to share my toys, wait my turn, and speak only when called upon.  Fairness to me was cutting pieces of a pie for dessert so that the portions were equal.  However, life’s circumstances are not always fair.  I get very aggravated when someone cuts me off in traffic or is tailgating me so closely that I can the white is his eyes.  As a I grow older, life becomes more complicated, and I have discovered that fairness in relationships is not always the case.  I have had to learn that the problem is not always about me, and life is never going to be fair.  Life is broken.

I have experienced my share of unfairness in my personal relationships, in work situations and in family issues.  This is true no matter if it be family, long-time friends or acquaintances on the job, I can end up feeling like I have been treated unfairly.  I know what it is to be lied to, accused of stealing when innocent, betrayed in a business deal, or forced to end relationships I held dear.  So the big question for me is this:  What have I learned or where do I go from here?

For me, the greatest example of a person treated unfairly was Jesus.  Being a great teacher and a strong example in my life, He displays the ultimate picture of forgiveness.  He said while hanging on a cross after being brutally beaten and unfairly accused, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

I have learned to forgive even when it is the last thing I want to do, even when it goes against the voices I hear in my broken heart.  Refusing to forgive is a selfish act on my part.  If I refuse to forgive, the hurt changes into anger, then anger is festered by holding a grudge which only leads into bitterness, eating away my heart.  Forgiveness is a bold action and is freeing even when the other person does not acknowledge his part in the wrong.  The words, “I forgive you,” are simple, easy words but when heartfelt, they can become the beginning of the freedom that forgiveness offers.  Life is not about fairness; it is all about forgiveness.  I choose freedom.  I believe in forgiveness.

**Written in May 2013 at my retirement from education for the 8th grade class at Edison Middle School in Wheaton, IL