Practicing Forgiveness

I am the oldest child, and I have one younger brother. As we were growing up together my chief joy was to torment my little brother. And by little, I do mean little. My brother was a very small boy until about the 10th grade. I loved calling him names, poking at him and making him cry. Now I won’t claim any real pride in this history, but I will rationalize it by sharing that he took great joy in scaring me. He would hide in out of the way places, under my bed, in my closet, in the dryer and grab me. I still hold onto a tiny fear of the dark. Which if you know anything of my past is simply one of the funniest confessions ever.

And when you torment your little brother you get in trouble. A lot. All the time. And you are always having to say “I’m sorry,” “forgive me,” and the always popular “I promise not to do it again.” All quite meaningless and false. Until. Until that day when your little brother grows up, and is no longer little. In fact, he grew up to be a great big guy. A very big defensive lineman kind of guy. And the day that he knocked my glasses across the room in response to a retort, is the day I learned how to ask forgiveness sincerely.

I sometimes imagine that is how God must feel. Does God get exasperated with us because we just don’t get it? That we constantly act and react in ways that require forgiveness. But God doesn’t hold on tightly to our wrongs, but to us. Can we be as forgiving as we have been forgiven?

And that is a thin place.

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