They Won’t Forgive Me, Now What?

23 03 2014

I think it started about 35 years ago when I felt convicted that if I was going to be serious about this way of life called Christianity, Imagethere were things I needed to a make a priority in my very being.  Now for some I noticed that means straightening up the way they live by ceasing to do certain things and shunning others who stilled practiced these vile ways, kinda like the old song “I don’t smoke and I don’t chew and I don’t go with girls who do” attitude.  Okay, if that’s where you’re at then; well, I think I’ll just pass on this and tell you what this change of life meant for me as a follower of Christ.  As I have studied the scriptures, I’ve come to believe that it can be summed up in 4 words:  “Faith, Mercy, Grace, Forgiveness,” and all work in correlation with the other three.  So, if this is what I felt was the essence of who I was spiritually, then it was up to me on how well they manifested in my life.  The one that took priority those many years ago was forgiveness, not bestowing it, but asking for it.  

It could be said (as well as being truthful) when looking back at the life I led years prior to that moment that I wasn’t the nicest person you could have hung out with.  Back then I could have started my own religion, “Chief Pastor of the 1st Church of Bugger and Bloated Heads!”  Now, I wasn’t the worse person around by any means, but I did have a way of looking out for me and what my wants were ahead of others, even to the point of causing some harm by my attitude. (Just being honest here, okay? Stay with me.)  But it wasn’t until years later that the truth of who I was and what I had done came home to roost and it truly sickened me! After talking to others, reading what the Bible had to say and praying a ton’s worth that the decision was made; I would contact every person that my memory came up with that I had wronged, tell them I was sorry, and ask for their forgiveness.  Again, don’t get the wrong idea that I’m trying to show how wonderful I had become.  As the old saying goes, “That dog don’t hunt!” This was something that weighed heavy on my heart that I felt God wanted me to do.  So the quest began.  It wasn’t an easy task trying to remember at first; but I think about the time I felt I had everyone I wronged, God would put a new name in my brain.  (Something He still does today.)  To some I wrote letters explaining what I was doing and asking them to forgive me from how I might have hurt them.  Others I tracked down phone numbers and gave them my speech and request their forgiveness that way.  Then there were a few that I went to personally to carryout my endeavor, these were folks that I really to needed to see face to face to make things right.  When all was finished, the responses were assorted but fruitful.  Some reactions were “Boy, that was a long time ago and I really don’t remember; thank you for what you’ve done, yes I forgive you.”  Then there were the ones that were more like this; “Oh yeah Miller, you definitely were not the pretty end of a horse, but thank you for making it right, I forgive you.”  A few others were willing to do the same, but I could tell they were guarded in how they interacted with me; like saying “I’ll forgive you but just in case let’s not plan any outings together, okay?”  I deserved that, I know, but it still made me feel better to get it done. “Thank you Lord for allowing me to do this and have good results, I know now I’m doing your will!” 

Then the moment came when I went to see an old friend (who no longer fell into that category) to try and right a terrible wrong I had done to him when we were teenagers.  As well as the others had gone, I had every reason to believe this would go just as good.  To put it in the “word” of some of my young friends, “DUDE!!”  When he opened the door I was quick to state why I was there, but not as quick as he was with his response.  “No, I don’t believe you, no I don’t forgive you  no I don’t want to talk to you.  Don’t even try to convince me that you’ve changed; a leopard doesn’t change his spots and people like you don’t change their ways.  Now get off my property and don’t come back.”  And the door went SLAM!  Several thoughts went through my mind looking at that closed door in my face.  I could leave and try again at a later date, I could knock once more and plead with him to forgive me, or I could get real angry, kick the door in, stand on his chest while saying, “Look greaseball, I’m a changed man.  Now you either listen and forgive me of I’m gonna rip off one of your arms and beat you half to death with it!!”  No, I just don’t think that would work the way I hoped it would.  I turned around, headed to my car and left.

With all the successes I had you would think that one rejection wouldn’t bother me, but it stuck out in my heart and mind like a sore thumb.  “Lord, why did this one fail like it did? Was I wrong to approach this person and stir up bad feelings again?  What can I do to make it right and have him forgive me?”  The answer came and at first I didn’t like it, but came to realize it was right.  What can I do to get this man to forgive me?  “Nothing!”

When it comes to hurting people, one has to realize that to some it was a deeper hurt than to others.  That why in Matthew it tells us those words that probably everyone knows be they a Christian or not, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”

In the scope of life, one truth stands forth no matter who you are or what you believe; there in only one person that you can control their actions and attitudes, and that one person is you. Each of us must make a decision on how we live, how we react to situations, and how we treat others.  Chuck Swindoll said it this way, “We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”

I’ve never contacted the person in question again, perhaps he wasn’t the only one who didn’t forgive me.  I told you that there were a few that were guarded in their approach to me.  Then there were some letters I sent that I did not receive a response to; perhaps they did forgive me but saw no reason to respond.  Or perhaps like my old friend, they just slammed the door in my face with a more silent approach.  I’ll probably never know, but that’s no longer the important matter here.  What’s important is how I choose to conduct my life day in and day out.  The Palmist says this, “Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.” Back to looking out for me first, but not the same as before. Now for the purpose of serving my Lord, and serving others; that’s the right heart, the servant’s heart, really, the heart of happiness.

I still occasionally think of my old friend who once walked side by side with me Traveling the Rock Road.  And as I remember that time in life it brings a smile to my face as I picture us as kids once more, laughing and not having a care in the world as long as we were together.  Of course it’s no longer about how he sees me, but still, it’s how I see him; a person worthy of forgiveness like all of us, and someone that can always use a good prayer on their behalf. Who better to do that than a friend, whether he acknowledges it or not.  Awesome!!

Side note: I wish to thank all who have been reading my blog; it’s been a little overwhelming and I expect to hit 10,000 reads this year at the present rate.

All I can say is it’s gotta be a God thing.  I’m good with that!!   




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