When I was growing up, we had a little corner market about two blocks from our house. At seven years old, Mama would send me to the market to buy things like milk, eggs, and bread. Each time I went, I would look longingly at the rows of candy bars they always put right by the registers. We didn’t eat much candy growing up, probably because we were pretty broke! But I clearly remember drooling over those candy bars, one type in particular – Whatchamacallit! The name was so intriguing to me and one day, I succumbed to temptation and took a candy bar. I remember juggling that gallon of milk and eating a candy bar in the time it took to walk two blocks. Not an easy feat, but I did it, not really even having time to enjoy the Whatchamacallit!
I don’t know if it was chocolate on my face, crumbs on my shirt, or a wrapper sticking out of my pocket, but somehow, Mama KNEW I’d eaten some kind of candy. You see, MY mama was not one of those “Wait until your father gets home” kind of mamas. She took care of things herself, and boy, did she take care of me that day! Mama didn’t need to know what kind of candy bar it was or how I’d managed to steal it. She simply marched me right back to the store and made me apologize to the owner. I wanted to crawl under a rock. I felt horrible because the owner had always been so nice to me and now, I’d ruined that…or so I thought.
That was the first experience with sin I can vividly remember. Even at age seven, I was acutely aware of the damage I had done to the trusting relationship with my Mama and with the store owner. I remember Mama being so upset with me, and then Daddy was, too, when he got home. I was devastated.
But it was also my first experience with the joy of forgiveness. Mama and Daddy forgave me, not really holding a grudge against me… still kissing me goodnight and tucking me in that very night. I had to earn their trust back and it was a little while before I could go to the store by myself. The next time I went to the store, the owner didn’t give me a hard time or even look at me funny. He was just as nice as he’d ever been to me, almost like it had never happened.
Forgiveness is such an amazing thing. And very powerful…yet, how many of us really know how to forgive?
We are warned to forgive or we will not be forgiven – Mark 11:25-26.
We have examples of the limitlessness our forgiveness should hold – Matthew 18:21-35.
And we are instructed to do it with kindness and love – Ephesians 4:31-32.
All these things are easier said than done, but something I constantly need to remind myself of.