I have a dear and long-time friend named Carol. She often works at the voting polls, so I usually see her when I go there to vote in a local election. About a year ago, this was the case and, as we always do, we got to talking. Before I knew it, she had pulled me aside into a separate room and was sharing with me a recent experience. It had to do with forgiveness. I was so touched by the story that I asked her to write it down so that I could share it with others at a later time. Her reflections on forgiveness are the subject of today's guest blog. Here now is Carol's story:
" The Lord's supper, known to me as Communion, is a time I look forward to because I consider it truly holy. Before partaking of the elements of tiny morsels of unleavened bread and the tiny cups of grape juice that represent the body and blood of Christ, our minister offers the congregation a warning. He asks his flock to search their hearts to see if there is anyone we have erred against or if there is anyone whom we have not forgiven that has erred against us. I sat smugly waiting for my turn, feeling my slate was clean. A gentle nudge made me decide to ask: 'Lord, I can't think of anyone. I don't think I'm harboring any unforgiveness, am I?'
Instantly, within my spirit, I heard the name, Annie, an old college roommate. 'Annie? What about it?' And then a flood of memories washed through my mind. My pride quickly came to my defense. Oh sure, sure I would reluctantly forgive her, but I wasn't going to like it. I did my duty, took Communion, and hoped my Savior would let me skip the part where I must make amends. Well, the answer was 'NO.'
I tried to sweep the whole incident under the rug in the recesses of my mind, but my heart felt like a heavy bowling ball was inside it. I began to argue with the Holy Spirit.
'How can I make amends? I don't even know where she lives anymore; maybe she has moved. I don't know her phone number or e-mail, or...' All lame excuses because almost anyone can be found these days, one way or another. Still, I dug in my stubborn heels and tried to busy myself to keep from thinking about it. Nope. It just wasn't going to happen.
Monday, I went to pick up the mail and there was a package from my college. 'Hmm,' I thought, 'What in the world could this be?' I opened it in haste, and there was a directory of former students dating back into the '70s when I graduated. When I opened the book, the first name my eyes saw was Annie. There was her current address, phone number, and e-mail. My heart sank. No more excuses. This meant only one thing: I HAD TO MAKE AMENDS!
Truthfully, I astound myself with how I want to argue with the Holy Spirit. Okay, I was given the information needed to contact her, but I still argued. 'I have no idea what I am going to say to her. She is going to think I am some long lost freak bringing up old stuff that she has probably forgotten. So I tell her I forgive her. Then what?' The bowling ball was getting heavier. My thought was maybe she wouldn't answer when I called, and then Jesus would know at least I tried. He wasn't buying it.
The weight within my heart was growing more uncomfortable than the fear I had over the confrontation, so I started to cry. I was being a brat, and I confessed it, and then something wonderful happened: my heaviness disappeared. Next thing I knew, I was punching in the phone number and listening to the phone ring. Part of me still didn't want anyone on the other side to answer, but there she was: 'Hello?'
'Annie - it has been a long time since I saw you. How are you?'
She recognized my voice.
'I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to pick up the phone and call you! I have breast cancer. We lost our youngest son two months ago in a car wreck. My whole life is falling in on me. Will you pray for me?'
We prayed, we talked, we wept, and we healed. We vowed to keep in touch, and we have. If I had not been obedient to forgive, I would have missed this terrific opportunity to receive and give love."
I am grateful to Carol for her willingness to share this story. I hope that this inspires all of us to be open to God's leading when He asks us to let go and forgive someone. We just may find that He is doing far more than we imagine in the situation.