Sunday, July 21, 2019

When Forgiveness Touched my Life

In a very deep sleep, the sound of a loud "Bang!" awoke me from outside my window the other night. Tires squealed quickly away, and I had time to think as I lay there in a comfy, drowsy state, hmmm, someone must have hit a deer... before I drifted off to sleep again.

A minute or so later the house telephone began ringing. My eyes popped back open and a feeling of dread crept over my body. What's going on? Who would be calling at 12:30 a.m.? Was this related to the sound I'd heard?

My husband awoke and we stared at the phone. It was an unfamiliar number, so we didn't answer it. Hubby made a quick bathroom trip, and I swore I heard someone knocking at our front door.

"Jim!" I said, picking the phone off the cradle, ready to dial 911 at a moment's notice. "There's someone at our door now!"

My husband is recovering from a hip replacement. He grabbed his cane and snuck quietly down the stairs, peeking out the front door. "It's the neighbors," he said, and opened the door.

As I stood there, so many thoughts ran through my head. Has there been a tragedy at their house, is someone hurt, etc. I was unprepared for what I heard next: "Someone broke your wife's car window and we called the cops."

For the first time in my life, a senseless act of violence touched my life. The back window of my car was shattered and thousands of tiny shards of glass glittered throughout the whole vehicle all the way up to the dashboard. Two of my tires had been flattened and the metal blade of a box-cutter type of knife stuck out of one of them. I wanted to vomit, scream, run away. I wanted to cry. I wanted my mother.

Isn't it enough, Lord, that Jim is recovering from surgery? Everything is up in the air now and we have too much to handle. This too?

From what we've discovered in the last few days, there have been random car break-ins and vandalism to vehicles in our town. Nobody has come close to catching the offenders.

I've been thinking back to a time that touched my parent's lives back in the early eighties. They owned a small Mom -and -Pop store in our little hometown. One late night, somebody had broke their large front window, gone into the store and stolen several items. When Mom found out the next day, she didn't develop a "poor me" attitude or even get angry. In typical Mom fashion instead, she wrote a large sign and hung it on the front door as several people helped place boards over the broken glass.

The sign read: If you are hungry or in need of anything, please stop in and talk with me about it. I would be glad to help you out. Please don't steal from us.

The thought of that sign and my mother's attitude came to me as I tried to make sense from the senseless. Something else came to me as well. My mother was a firm believer in second chances for people. She tried to look at the good in everyone. She had such compassion in her heart for the underdogs of this world and tried to reason that "Everyone has a story."

I don't know what kind of homes the people who vandalized my car have come from. Perhaps they never knew love or any form of human goodness. Maybe they never knew God's goodness and mercy, but I decided to feel mercy in my heart toward them. "Father, forgive them," I said. "Please bring them to justice, but help them to realize that what they are doing in our town is wrong. They don't realize that these acts are happening to folks who may have terrible struggles already in their lives. Help them to care and to have a conscience."

Letting go of this has been the best thing I could have done for myself. Yes, I feel uneasy right now, and I will certainly be more aware of the goings on around our neighborhood. But I'm choosing life over death, love over hate, forgiveness over anger, and mercy over bitterness.

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