We have a policy here when Monkey Boy gets punished for an infraction of “even with the house.” It’s good for him and for us, aka the punishers. After the time out, spanking or whatever his sentence has been served we remind him and ourselves, he’s even with the house. All debts are paid. He’s clear. It’s over.
I try to carry this policy to my life as a whole. It gets a lot harder when the infractions get bigger. Mostly because very often, there is nothing the person who messed up can do except be sorry, apologize and do better. Most of what gets hurt as adults is not repairable. We live in a physical universe with finite rules and there are actual consequences for actions.
I’ve been thinking about this lately because of a post written by a blog friend. She messed up. She needed forgiveness. She needed grace. She wanted to be even with the house again. She got it. What a gift.
In her post, she makes an analogy to Micheal Vick. He did the indefensible. He needed forgiveness and grace. In some ways, he’s gotten it. Some people don’t like that. They don’t think he can ever be even with the house again.
Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die. ~Anne Lamott
Good Lord knows I am not the arbiter of who gets forgiveness and stuff. (You should all be thankful for that.) I try to be a good Christian girl. Most days I do a pretty lousy job at it. I was feeling all superior about my ability to hold no grudge against Micheal Vick when I was confronted with a man in my life I believe has no redeeming qualities. I believe I was wronged by him, and I’ve had a terrible time letting it go. I don’t want to let him be even with the house. I want to hold him in debt FOREVER!
But if I believe there is grace for me… If I believe there is forgiveness for the wrong I’ve done in this life, even the wrong that’s indefensible… If I believe that I get to be even with the house, then I have to believe the same grace is available to all. I’m required to stop punishing him. And by punishing him, I mean, making up lots of terrible things in my mind I would love to say to him given the chance. I have to let it go. I have to let it go even if I never know what consequences, if any, he may or may not suffer for the wrong I believe he did. And I’m working on that. That’s the really hard part about grace.
(To be clear, I don’t believe ending punishment means ending consequences. The consequences of actions are defined by natural or civil laws. I simply mean the act of letting go of the anger, hurt and resentment: forgiveness.)
Today was a day we should count our blessings. And as I look around, I see that there are many that I have not given credence to.
I am thankful for a God that I had thought had given up on me… and the love of a child…
And in the glorious words of T.S. Eliot: We shall not cease exploration. And at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” ~Love Song for Bobby Long
This week is a time to count our blessings not our grievances. I too am thankful for a God who has never given up on me. I am thankful for the grace and forgiveness I have received. I am grateful I have been shown that grace, forgiveness and love daily by my friends and family. I am grateful to be even with the house.