Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What she left behind

Her eyesight had failed her, so she took the hand offered as she stepped onto the podium to give the eulogy. In the moments ahead, this sister in law remembered a woman she said was more like a sister, and the kind words offered no surprise as our family had often been touched by the kindness and love of the one she praised.
“She was a very forgiving woman.” We’d observed that forgiveness through her many years of heartaches which seemed to stack one on another. But still, no bitterness invaded her sweet spirit.

But what could rock worlds was still to come. “Maybe you did something to hurt or offend her, and didn’t have a chance to ask forgiveness.” I could feel the collective pause in the room, because I knew some had. Maybe I had. I’d wished I’d visited more often.

“Don’t worry about it. She’s already forgiven you.”

The relief was palpable as the grace washed over all in the room.

"Already forgiven you" came as a green shoot from the dry leaves of death.

What a legacy.

Through the years, I’d heard the confessions of those who had hurt someone and never had a chance to ask forgiveness. The guilt of it was almost crushing. But the life of this woman made sure what she left behind was joy.

She’d made a path for those who may have offended or hurt her to follow. We could step in her merciful footsteps and find life and peace. And maybe some would say I want to have that same forgiving spirit. I want to be known NOT as someone who held a grudge and demanded justice, but I want to be remembered as someone who always forgave. Who looked past the offense to the heart of the offender, and offered what was not deserved—mercy.

Like Jesus did for us.

As the service concluded, we gathered coats and scarves to wrap our bodies against the cold wind blowing outside, but our hearts had already been warmed by love and a supernatural grace.

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you” (Colossians 3:13 The Message).

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