Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Deep Cleaning

A friend came to town the other day. She comes every year about this time. Her get away I guess. A time to take a break from her mothering and wifing and have a few days to relax and catch up with friends. I have known her for about 22 years I think. She lived here and then moved out of state. Though she doesn't stay with me, I heard she was in town and I looked forward to seeing her. As I sat doing my Bible Study early one morning, I was reflecting back on our friendship and the Lord reminded me of one gracious moment with her many years ago. I had helped her with a project that was very personal to her and then recklessly and without any sensitivity, I shared it with others. Not gossiping, not sharing a secret, but sharing some photography that was from a very tender and private moment in her family's life. I was proud of my work and wanted to share it with others. Pride. I had no idea it would feel like such a betrayal to her and yet it did feel exactly that. I don't know how long she thought about how to handle it or how much time she spent praying about it. I do know my sweet friend didn't even approach me until she and God had worked through the pain, betrayal and he lead her all the way to forgiving me. She had nearly every right to come to me angry and hurt and tell me a thing or two about friendship and confidentiality and ask me to apologize and then still be hurt. The one right that held her back, was the one God himself reserves when he asks us to wait. She loves Him so! Her obediance and heart for Him has always been such a testimony to me. When she finally did come to me, she gently told me I had hurt her and explained how. She didn't wait for an apology, didn't even give me the chance before she told me she had forgiven me. Often, I say I am sorry in order to be forgiven, but in this case, she forgave without any guarantee she'd get the apology or even a need for it. I do remember apologizing, though feeling defensive inside. Oh that was a period of time when I wanted to be right more than I wanted to be honest. So the issue was layed to rest and sometime later she moved away. I don't believe I have spent one minute thinking about that encounter until this recent early morning prompting. As I thought about her kindness and humility and forgiveness I was overwhelmed with gratitude. How it must have hurt her to wait so long to talk to me and then get a half-hearted apology. So I sat down and wrote her a note, thanking her for being so gracious to me 20-something years ago. Telling her I wasn't feeling too genuine back then, but my heart feels so grateful for her now..... Hmmm. Forgiveness. God's kind. That's what I saw in her. A God that forgives because He can and because He wants to. No need to punish in order to forgive. No need to demand an apology. No need for compensation. The dictionary defines "forgive" as to excuse for a fault or an offense; pardon; to renounce anger or resentment against, to absolve from payment of (a debt, for example). All of that I received from her without a thing from me. Simply grace. Betrayal for her but pardon for me. I wish it hadn't taken me so long to see it and be able to express my gratitude to her. She has studied under the Master longer than I and saw His hand even in this moment calling it "a deep cleaning". I am sure God smiled with pride and approval when she came to me back then and I am sure he chuckled and nodded when the realization finally fell on me. I hope this deep cleaning felt as sweet to her as it does to me. I pray that when faced with the opportunity, I will glance back over my shoulder at my friend's forgiveness just as she glanced back over hers to the cross. Grace. Grace and a wonderful "deep cleaning".

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