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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Forgiveness When Everything Else Says “No!”

“THEY are treating you like family,” the wife said to her jaded husband, a little sick of being taken for granted by his supervisor and manager at work.
And, the fact of the matter, is his wife was never more right.
“But I don’t want to be treated like family if it means being taken for granted,” the husband said, just wanting to be treated fairly.
That’s often where the two cannot reconcile; one despises their treatment and the other has absolutely no idea (and the one with the problem is also not willing to draw attention to the issue. Perhaps they have good reason to think it won’t end well).
Forgiveness can’t get to first base unless faith has taken the first step.
And given that forgiveness is never instantaneous — it’s almost always a protracted process — we will never get all the way home if we don’t first make it to first base.
First base is confronting the issue in a way that values the other person. Maybe it’s providing feedback gently regarding how we felt. Sometimes it’s just a change in tact that brings space and openness. Space and openness facilitate trust.
Second base is cooperative interaction — the freedom of two to discuss a topic where the emotional stakes are high. This always takes a city full of courage. As two sister cities join together to discuss issues they might be ardently wed to, both release something of their vicelike grip on their control.
Third base is really the hope — the miracle of victory — which is always hoped for but isn’t always achieved. Many are run out at third base, because the heat gets too much for one, and the other is not willing to slow the process down. The onus is on the person who is not hurting as much to extend some unexpected mercy. Remember, the issue is all about a lack of trust. But when we give more than what would be expected, we will often get the person back to the table where we can continue being kind to them.
Home base is sweet, but only if we beat the throw. That throw is Satan’s last ditch attempt to stifle us at the scoreboard of relational contentedness. We are still tempted to walk away in one of our weaker moments when Satan tries really hard to talk us around. This is why we should never make wholesale changes when we are 98 percent the way around the diamond.
Forgiveness, baseball style: the runner hits first when faith is engaged. Second is reached when two are in respectfully active dialogue over the dispute. The slide into third occurs as a breakthrough of understanding is achieved. Home plate is touched when bitterness is torched and trust is revived.
When everything in us says no to forgiveness, nothing in us is able to forgive.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.

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