As a kid growing up in St.Louis Park, Minnesota I remember one of my favorite shows was 'Get Smart'. I especially enjoyed the opening credits where Mr. Smart walks through a set of passage way doors inside an ordinary building. As he walks through one doorway he finds another doorway as the door behind him would close with a thud. This scene would repeat itself until the final one where he walks into the familiar phone booth and drops below.
This scene came back to me as I reflected on how powerful forgiveness plays in our lives as believers in Christ.
Forgiveness is like a gentle breeze blowing against the light swirling curtains bringing in fresh cleansing air indoors. For anyone who has ever experience traumatic or complicated grief I think you might know where I am going with this illustration. When a loved one suddenly dies it is easy to place blame on the people you thought were responsible for this loss. If the person dies shortly after coming home from the hospital you want to blame the hospital and all of the staff thought responsible for this loss.
If it was a tragic car accident that took your loved one you search to pin blame on the other party. When a loss occurs suddenly and traumatically everyone who is connected with that loss will react differently to that loss. Some will choose to immediately forgive, while others will travel down the lonely path of anger and revenge as they seek monetary damages for their pain while forcing others to travel down this same path when all they want to do is find a way of forgiving the one who caused the pain.
This inability to forgive is akin to an old building with all of it's windows boarded up with no possibility of allowing fresh air to circulate.until that is when someone opens up that building for the first time and is hit with the putrid air.
This lack of forgiveness permeates outward. Before you know it you begin blaming those around you who you thought would have supported you in your time of need. The lack of forgiveness gives way to flashbacks and nightmares of the original event that caused your pain. Instead of seeking help for pain the person in pain will wrestle with all of the nightmares, flash backs and the verbal attacks on others, causing collateral damage to his loved ones. One's world view begins to shift from finding good in everyone you meet to having difficulty trusting. At the slightest provocation or disagreement the person will find ways of avoiding the person. Like the scene from 'Get Smart' there are doors in one's mind that go 'thud' when someone has violated any reason to trust them.
This lack of trust is akin to keeping all of the doors closed up and the stale air from escaping. Lack of forgiveness can create physiological symptoms of failing to breath deeply enough to let the toxins from within to escape. This lack of trust can result in a lifetime of addictions that interfere with the ability to live life like our Lord and Savior fully intended us to live.
As I reflect on my own journey I am amazed by God's power of forgiveness from the final Jewish attorney who got me thinking I should turn the tide and try to do things to honor our daughter's memory. His words were golden because I was hearing it from a man who tragically lost his less than a year old daughter who never made it home after child birth. His words had planted the seeds that allowed me to verbally forgive our daughter's daughter's orthopedic specialist to actually sitting down with him and sharing our mutual grief journeys ( yes, even doctors grieve when things do not go the way they intended them to go), The seeds that were planted sent me on a 1 week missions trip to the land my daughter was born in where I got to see God's hand in bringing 'Maria' to our family. Finally, the seeds lead me to set up 2 scholarships to honor in a few weeks a couple of students from what would have been Maria's class of 2015 Legacy Christian academy class. As I write this blog I write with total amazement and a smile on my face and like the gentle breeze blowing through the open window I breath the air of forgiveness.
Alas, this journey has come full circle. God has demonstrated that he, indeed, is good all the time and he alone walks with anyone going through traumatic events. Out of my deep despair came the site I hope will bring hope to those after me traveling their own battles with despair: www.soaringonwingsofeagles.org
Where ever you are at on your journey may you swing open those windows of forgiveness and let the crisp breeze of forgiveness to come in.Won't you take time today and pray for specific people in your life you know you should forgive and when you do won't you sit back and watch God coordinate these acts of forgiveness in your life?
One day, like me, you will awaken to open windows and crisp fresh air of forgiveness permeating every inch of your being causing positive changes to your mental and physical well being that will last a life time.
Yes, there is power of forgiveness!