The hurt occured almost two decades ago.
In the scheme of life it was little but it seemed to cause a cascading or offenses that lingered far too long.
For years I blamed that one moment on being passed over for ministry time and again. I babied it like a twisted ankle. Never wanting to step on it wrong or bear my own weight.
I noticed it over and over every time I tried to step out or move forward. When the ground wasn’t solid I felt the twinge. Sometimes I’d even mention it to those around.
Then it happened. While giving a sermon illustration, a wise adviser saw the wound in something completely unrelated. He pointed it out and suggested I get it taken care of soon.
In an instant the Lord pressed on my heart what it was. If a doctor asked you to identify pain, you usually point out what bothers you most often. He had pressed on it as if to say “Does this hurt?” and it did.
The offense in the scheme of life was so very small. It was a pebble under a throw rug that caused me to trip or stub my toe. It would have been so easy to remove it and toss it back in the glassy lake, creating a ripple in the water that would subside quickly.
Purposing in my heart to call this person, I went on my way, nudging the idea further from my mind. I wasn’t really ignoring it, I was just waiting for perfect timing.
A week later, I went to a nearby conference. During a bathroom break, I heard a familiar voice in the stall next to me. It was my friend, who so many years before had misunderstood my actions and in turn her frustration with me showed. Honestly, I never knew just how to approach it without implicating her. I never wanted to cast blame. After all, I should have spoken up earlier. I was afraid that if I did, I wouldn’t be asked to serve in that capacity again which turned out to be the result anyway.
Holding onto an offense is in itself an offense. I think we forget that. We justify ourselves because after all, we were the one wronged.
After the session I waited by the aisle. As she cut across a row of chairs I followed her. I asked her if she could take a minute to talk to me over in the corner and she happily obliged.
Taking a deep breath I let the words just roll out of my heart.
“I need to ask your forgiveness for something I’ve held onto for a ridiculous amount of time.” I told her that I wasn’t even sure she had done anything wrong but I had held it as an offense just the same.
Tears ran hot down my face. It’s hard to take a step with a leg you’ve never let heal properly. She gently took my hands and forgave me. She understood because she knew so many details from her perspective that it had tripped her up as well.
We spent the next couple of hours together, moving forward in friendship. Giving the gift of reconciliation to each other.
Love and connection can only grow in reconciled hearts. The rocky soil of offense lies barren until tilled, watered and tended. Seeds of hope plant their roots deep into fertile ground enriched by grace.
My word this year is “reconciliation”. With all of my talk about grace, reconciliation is a vital piece in the life of grace. As it turns out, I don’t need pursue it, it is pursuing me.