Tom sat in my driveway his car idling softly as he looked at me and poured his heart out about the rejection he felt because of his father. Tom was torn, he felt a natural desire to fix things with his father and something else.
He explained to me how his wife was mad at him because she felt that a letter that he had recently sent to his father detailing much of his frustration was not “hard enough.” When I asked him what she meant by that he said, well you know I was too...he paused to find the right word,
"You were too nice," I offered.
“No, no, no, nothing like that.” He seemed genuinely hurt that I would suggest such a thing.
A few days later we were talking on the phone. The topic of the letter came up again. His wife was still mad at him. I prodded, “What would be the point of sending a ‘meaner’ letter?”
“Well, don’t you think he should...” Tom’s voice trailed off.
“Hurt,” I left the question hang like a slow looping curveball.
"Tom, what do you think it would like to forgive your Dad? What does forgiveness mean?"
I knew that Tom's faith was important to him so I asked him what role should his faith play into his forgiving his father. His answer is actually a rather common one.
The confusion palpable in his voice, he said to me "I know I'm supposed to forgive him, but I have stinking clue what that means! I don't even know if he wants my forgiveness." Tom's eyes darted around the car like small orbs caught in a magnetic vortex of pain and confusion. Forgiveness is a necessary component of any relationship that we are in and yet there is so little real training on how to forgive others. There is so little understanding about what it means to forgive people.
As relationships seem to fall like buildings being taken down by professional demolition crews, I cannot help but wonder if at least part of the reason is because we have not learned what it means to forgive. Joshua Straub has written
But problems are never really the issue. We all have more than our share. What we choose to do with the problems, makes all the difference” ~Joshua Straub
I think this quote aptly applies to our relationship problems. Over the next few weeks, in no particular pattern I want to explore this issue of forgiveness. I believe it will probably lead us to many other topics and it will probably be quite a bit of fun to look at deeply.