Tomorrow is the BIG 40! I’m sitting here on Day 7 of my Seven Days to Forty alone in my recliner, because that’s my writing spot. Most everything I’ve put into this computer has been in this same chair, TV off and kids in bed. I’ve been getting ready for writing this final lesson for a couple weeks now. All along, I figured I would write about Love, because that’s fitting. Every great inspirational speaker jumps on the chance to say “what the world needs is more love!”. Sure that statement is true, but for some reason it isn’t what is motivating me tonight. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family that was full of love, or maybe I was mentored within a church that preached it from its pulpit. I’m not sure what the reason is but I feel drawn to write about something else.
It’s only fitting for me that I turn 40 this year amid all of the chaos we’ve experienced recently in Louisiana. I’ve never been the smooth and steady type anyways, so why not top the hill after the Summer of 2016? The people that are closest to me have seen my rise and fall. They’ve seen me at my best and at my worst. They’ve also seen the journey I’ve been on for several years now and they know that this year has been the launching of a new chapter and it is fresh ink being placed on that page. This hope and these blessings in my life are why the events of this year pain me so greatly. We’ve spent the last several months watching loss of life and those hurting looking for someone to blame. Even amidst all of the love and generosity after the flood it’s become natural to hold a grudge against this department for not paying or that contractor for not showing up. Throw the Presidential election in the mix and we might as well all hate each other, because our candidate says the other side is wrong, and of course our political party wouldn’t mislead us for the sake of their own agenda right?
If you told me tonight that I could pick one act or one character trait that I could grow over the next 40 years, and my wish would be granted, I now know what it would be. If you promised that if I did a masterful job of nurturing this gift, it would become infectious to the rest of the world I would only choose one thing. I would choose Forgiveness.
Our country is currently obsessed with who has done who wrong and who owes who for it. Well the fact is everyone is wrong, not all the time but some of the times. Cops do wrong sometimes. Blacks do wrong sometimes. Whites do wrong sometimes. FEMA does wrong sometimes. Democrats do wrong sometimes. And yes, Republicans do wrong sometimes. Oh yea, and Facebook is not Jesus Christ, it’s not right all of the time either. I myself have pissed off my share of people in my life and I can think of a couple that would swear that I’ve done it this week!
I know for a fact that we’ve all offended Jesus so I’m pretty sure each of us have offended most of the rest of the world. I’m sure grateful some of His last words were “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” instead of “Father, they did me wrong, now make them pay.” We’d find out really quick we’re not prepared to square up that debt.
We’ve become so twisted in being offended that we’re even posting things on social media making fun of people that are offended. We go on and on about which lives matter, but how can we prove any life matters without forgiveness? It honestly wouldn’t take a lot of effort for black, white, and blue lives to matter a little more. It doesn’t seem like as a country we’re offering much more than lip service to prove that we do matter. So why not be the one to make a difference.
Put some action to those words and break the chains that are holding us back. You see, that’s the beauty of Forgiveness, it empties us of bitterness and lets love and hope fill that empty spot. It brings with it Freedom, Healing, Restoration, and Reconciliation. These are things that we as a country need desperately right now. These are things worth spending the next 40 years trying to attain.
So here’s an idea. For my birthday tomorrow I’m going to try giving a gift instead of receiving any. If you’ve offended me, I forgive you. I mean it. It doesn’t matter if you’re someone close to me or some political movement running roughshod across the country. I’m going to make a pledge to let go of it because you’re human just like me and we do some dumb stuff, I mean some really dumb stuff! I hope you’ll do the same for me, I’m not too proud to ask for it.
I’m waking up in the morning and quite literally starting a new chapter in my life with a blank page. I intend to write a beautiful story with a happy ending, and the only way I know how is to not be harboring ugly thoughts.
I know it’s such a simple and old-fashioned idea, this Forgiveness thing. But can you imagine? What if it really caught on? Now that would be one Hell of a Birthday!
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.