It was 10pm on Saturday, the night after Hurricane Matthew hit our little suburb of Charleston, South Carolina. I was sitting outside with our neighbors, sipping wine and watching all the dark figures of our kids play tag in the pitch black night. We’d been without electricity for a while by this point and without street lamps, the handful of candles we had set out were the only illumination we had, but the kids couldn’t have cared less. They were having a ball.
A thought struck me as I listened to my neighbors tell stories about how bad Hurricane Hugo was way back when and how we were pretty fortunate this time around. It occurred to me how forgiving my neighbors are, especially when it’s time to pull together in a crisis.
I say “forgiving” because neighbors aren’t perfect. But on our street, those imperfections seem to fall by the wayside when we come together. Everyone shares their food, their hospitality, their open conversation and friendship quite generously. They certainly overlook all my faults and treat me with love and respect, even though at times I may have been less than neighborly or said something without thinking that caused injury. That night as we laughed and cajoled on our dark cul de sac, I felt a keen sense of gratitude to God for giving me these neighbors.
I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke, But I Don’t Think It Would Work…
Last night, as my husband and I watched the “Presidential” Debate, I felt a deep sadness for our country. How did we get to this point? Stone cold pride, vengeance, and a stubborn refusal to forgive others seem to be the pervasive characteristics of our society. Retribution prevails over mercy. Slander prevails over commendation. Bitterness prevails over forgiveness. At this point, the candidates make Frank Underwood looks like a mama’s boy in comparison.
I wish I could change people, but I can’t. I can only change myself and hope my example impacts others. That’s why, when it comes to the issues of mercy and forgiveness, I like to share the lessons I’ve learned over the years – hard lessons – during the time I was seeking healing from my divorce, in hopes that it might help those who are struggling. The mother of all lessons I learned was, without forgiveness, there is no healing. You need to show mercy to those who don’t deserve it, and you must forgive not only those who have hurt you, but also, yourself. If you can do that, you will find the peace and healing you seek.
In Matthew 18:2-4, Jesus said we must “change and become like children,” and doing this not only takes humility and a desire to forgive, but also a willingness to actively look for the good in others and find the positives. Just like the neighborhood kids playing on a dark street and having a blast in the midst of hurricane damage, and the hospitality of forgiving neighbors.
So I’d like to share this video with you, the second installment in The Six Keys To Healing mini-course. If you’re struggling with forgiving those who have hurt you, particularly your ex-spouse and anyone else who was responsible for the demise of your marriage, I hope you will find this worthwhile.