There are times when forgiving somebody is such a pain. You don’t care about the person, she annoys the heck out of you, and you’d just rather not even see her stupid face again. Or something like that.
I had an experience like that this week, just a minor thing, but one that reminded me of how callous I can be when the occasion arises. A neighbor lady complained to me several days ago about a basketball goal I’d gotten for Keith. In her opinion those things were just too noisy, although at that point, it was still in the process of being assembled in the driveway – guess she thought she’d head it off at the pass. Seeing as how she left this unsettling little message on my phone, I didn’t have to respond off the cuff. Which is a very good thing, considering what I was thinking at the time.
I let a few days pass, mainly because I didn’t know what to say. I was fluctuating between wanting to spray paint obscene messages on the front of her house and wanting to pack up and move back to our old neighborhood where there’s lots of noise all the time because people actually LIVE there. The family behind us even had a rooster, but that’s another story.
So all this time I’m thinking evil thoughts, imagining conversations between the two of us in which I blast her out of the water. Not my best moment. And all because of a child’s toy. I mean, really. When I think of even one millionth of the things that are wrong in this world and that are really worthy of getting angry about, even relating this story is embarrassing. However, I’m going to anyway because I think it’s the little things that get me most of the time.
OK, so my heart began to harden against her, a process that has become fairly predictable over the years when I choose to do nothing about a conflict. I saw her a couple of times and didn’t exactly go out of my way to make friendly conversation. I was cordial but maybe a little distant. I kind of hoped I’d never lay eyes on her again. Or that maybe she’d fall over dead in the yard.
Well, she left another message for me yesterday, upset and worried that she had ruined our friendship. My first thought was: “What friendship? And who cares?” But by this afternoon I was ready to pick up the phone. I had begun to realize that Jesus was probably not real thrilled about my pissy attitude. So I called her. We talked for several minutes, and what could have been a permanent, ugly situation was resolved. It just wasn’t that hard to extend a little understanding and forgiveness (not to mention that by this time I was in major need of forgiveness myself). OK, maybe it was kind of hard, but it’s possible. If I keep my eyes on Jesus, it can be done. I sure am capable of making a huge deal about a little bit of nothing. Great quality, don’t you think?