January 13, 2015
"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34
One of my coworkers and I have a very awkward relationship. In the beginning, it was pleasant. Lots of polite hellos and quick getting to know you conversations, and respect.
Then something happened. We were preparing for a very big school registration, and my department was leading the process. As a way to keep certain groups looking succinct, we bought them polo shirts. I was given a list of people who needed to receive these polo shirts.
They were nice shirts, but the response was a bit overwhelming. People who were not on the list, contacted me about the shirts, requesting one. People with similar shirts wanting one to add to their shirt collection. Most people were fine with my not being able to give them a shirt. Some were upset about it, but moved on. This particular employee would not stop pestering me about getting a polo. He kept telling me, "I am new and I have no shirts. Please!" I am sorry. I'd tell him. I cannot give you a shirt. That was not enough. He would not stop. For two days, each time he saw me, he'd mention getting one of the shirts. That's all I heard about from him.
Aggravated out of my mind by him after listening to him go on and on about getting a shirt, I finally grabbed one and threw it at him, "Here! JESUS!" And walked off. To that, his demeanor changed. His face fell and he said, "You know what, never mind." I thought to myself, Really? Then he said, "I don't need it that bad." As if response was not bad enough, I continued with, "Obviously you do because you've been bothering me about it for two days. Keep the shirt!"
The next day was registration. I saw him and guess what, he was NOT wearing the shirt. I was beyond livid. I felt like I was seeing red, and I could feel the steam coming out of my ears. At some point during the day, what I had done began to sink in. Originally, I wondered if maybe I was a little harsh, but I concluded that I was justified in my response and anger. Now, I was beginning reflect on my actions and what it expressed about me. Furthermore, I began to reflect on how my actions reflect on my profession to be a follower of Christ. My actions cast a poor reflection for myself and of Christ. I am called to be the hands and feet of Christ. If that was the only Jesus related thing he saw, would he want Jesus? I needed to apologize.
I didn't want to. I kept making excuses in my mind why I didn't need to apologize. God knows I'm sorry. and As long as I know I'm truly sorry that's all that really matters. At some point during registration, I did apologize. He accepted my apology.
After the apology, I've noticed each time I see him there's this awkwardness. It is almost like he doesn't want to look at me or acknowledge me. When I say hello to him, it almost seems like it is taking all of his energy to respond. It is a short response, with strained politeness. But there is always this awkwardness hanging over the room and I am transformed back to that moment when I was a complete jerk to him over a silly shirt. And I wonder, have I truly been forgiven.
It may all just be in my head, but I do wonder if he has forgiven me. Yes, my behavior was atrocious. Yes, I was a poor reflection of Christ to him, and yes I was a terrible reflection of myself, and the kind of person I want to be perceived as.
After thinking about this situation, I was led to this scripture, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12 What if God were the same way? I used to wonder if when I asked His forgiveness, did He really forgive me? Or was there that awkwardness still lingering? His words says He has removed my transgressions far from me. Therefore, He must truly forgive and forget them.
If God is able to forgive us, why is it so hard for us to truly forgive others? Jesus, took our burdens on, and died on a cross for us. When He was hanging on that cross, He did not have a spirit of bitterness or anger. He has compassion for us and forgiveness. He asked God to forgive us because we had no idea what we were doing. People lied on Him, whipped Him, spat in His face and mocked Him. How much pain did He experience at the hand of them? How much pain has He experienced at our hand, yet He forgave them, and He forgives us.
When I try to imagine what Jesus must have felt like in those moments leading to the cross, I wonder How can I possibly NOT forgive when He did? He is the example I want to follow, so why can't I do that? Though I strive to be more like Him in this way, I am reminded in those weaker human moments how much I need Him to soften my heart, and remind me of the forgiveness He has bestowed upon me.