The Forgiver

26 03 2012

Image“You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.”

I read several articles and posts on Facebook that brought to memory a dear lady from my childhood and also her outlook and approach to life that I feel we can all learn from.

Auch hallo Johnny, es ist schön sie zu sehen.  Möchten Sie etwas Schokolade kuchen?  Danken Sie oh Frau Rush Ihnen, die sehr nett sein würde!

When I was a boy back in Fremont, Ohio, I would regularly visit our next door neighbor, (Who we’ll call) Mrs. Rush, who was originally from Germany.  She was a short, white haired woman who I always saw wearing a smile and as often had a kind word to pass on to others.  When I went to see her, she would teach me a few words in German so that we could greet each other in her native tongue like the phrases I quoted.  (That, I must confess after all these years, I had to take from a German translation site.)  Her 1st words to me usually were, “Well hello Johnny, it’s nice to see you.  Would you like some chocolate cake?”  My response, “Oh thank you, Mrs. Rush that would be very nice!”  That was one of the reasons I loved visiting her home.  She was always baking delicious cakes and breads, which gave off the most tantalizing aroma that filled her entire home.  Also placed throughout the house were beautiful, delicate china and porcelain dolls she had brought with her from the “Old Country.”  On the walls were pictures that dated back to Mrs. Rush’s early days–photos of her childhood, her home, family and village, and a portrait of Mr. Rush, the love of her life.  I never knew him; he had passed away before we ever moved to the neighborhood, but I figured he had to be a wonderful man to be married to a sweet lady like his wife.

Often as I would be digging into a warm slice of German Chocolate Cake and a cold glass of milk, Mrs. Rush would tell me stories about her life before coming to America.  She had been a school teacher back in her home village, and her husband held the position of street supervisor there.  They had a happy life in their little community, a place where both had grown up and where most of their family still lived.  It was only natural to take jobs here in the hometown and live out their days like many they knew.  Times were changing though, after WW1 Germany was left in poverty and most couldn’t have left if they wanted to with little money and no place to go.  It was a long road back to the revitalization of this little hamlet, but with the entire community working as one they restored this precious birthplace and made it once again a great place to live and work.  As times improved many young people left, moving to the cities for opportunities of better jobs and education.  When someone returned for a visit, it was a celebration throughout the community.  

One personal friend of the Rush couple returned after being gone for a year with news of a better and more prosperous life for all Germans.  He persuaded the village officials and many others to travel to a political rally in Berlin.  It was there that Mrs. Rush came face to face with the most charismatic individual she had ever met, a man who would change her life forever; Adolph Hitler.  The night was electrifying and the crowd was stirred with exhilaration and Hitler’s speech was captivating.  When they returned home the Rush’s talked about all they had seen and heard.  Yes, it was very exciting, but something just didn’t sit right with them.  Several days later their friend, along with many others returned to the village to perform a recruiting drive for the National Socialist Workers’ party or “Nazi” party.  Many signed to become members; however, Mr. and Mrs. Rush chose not to participate, a decision they did not realize would cost them dearly.  It was several weeks later when many uniformed individuals converged on the village.  Mrs. Rush was met at the school house by several of these officials who informed her she was no longer a teacher.  Here were people she had never laid her eyes on before now ordering her out of the job she loved so much.  She sensed it would not be wise to argue with these people so she returned home only to meet her husband home early from work; he had been fired also.  Soon after many of the people they had grown up with would not associate with them, including family.  It was learned that any association with people outside the party could result in the loss of everything someone owned.  With saddened hearts, they had no choice but to quietly and secretly leave their beloved village and make their way to England where they then made arrangements to board a ship for America.  “Johnny, the war came and I never saw or heard from most of my family again.”  Only one sister made it to the U.S. years later.  Her home and town were completely annihilated from the face of the map.  Boy, you must really hate Hitler and the Nazis for what they did to you and you family,” I said after hearing the whole story.  With a usual smile she corrected me; “Johnny, I don’t hate anyone.  Hate is what got us into that situation.  Always remember, hate and anger never fix a problem, it only makes it worse.”

“Forgiveness is God’s invention for coming to terms with a world in which, despite their best intentions, people are unfair to each other and hurt each other deeply. He began by forgiving us.  And he invites us all to forgive each other.”

I’m not going to pretend I’m some super, incredible, groovy kind of guy (had to throw groovy in somewhere, sorry J), that no matter what has happened to me, what someone did that made my life miserable; it just doesn’t bother me and I can forgive them without a second thought.  Wish that was a descriptive of me, but alas ain’t so!  But forgiveness is something I work on constantly.  I have found it to be a total truth in saying that when you hate or stay angry with someone, the person who ends up hurting the most is you.  The release in this man’s life, when I have thrown off the shackles of hatred has been one of the most invigorating things I have ever done and man does it feel good to be happy over angry!  Now does that mean forgive and forget?  Sorry, that dog don’t hunt.  Forgiving is an emotion that if not released can truly destroy you.  Not forgetting is a safeguard so as not to allow a certain situation to happen again; amen?

That’s all on the Gray One’s mind tonight.  Forgive, boy that’s a tough one in some cases, huh?  But in all seriousness, it does beat the alternative.  Why not live happy?  Forgiveness gives that to you; it did Mrs. Rush!  And it delights the biggest Forgiver of all times.  Matter of fact, He loves to forgive, and He loves even more when someone accepts God’s forgiveness.  Ephesians 4:32 and 5:1.

Thanks, Mrs. Rush, for teaching me and being one of my heroes, a Traveler on the Rock Road!  Thank you, Father, for forgiving this ornery fart; in Jesus name!

Segnungen zu Ihnen und Ihres haben derjenig geliebt!

Blessings to you and your loved ones!! J




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