This blog is 20 posts long but the one reoccurring theme in it so far appears to be one of grace and forgiveness. While I have designs to explore so much more than these two great mysteries, this is what I’m experiencing now so you’re just going to have to deal with it 🙂
We all have that person.
That person who we really dislike.
The one who WE KNOW above all else… DESERVES to know what you think about them.
That one person for me was a former boss.
When I first met her (we’ll call her Nikki), she seemed nice enough. She was a divorcee with two kids around my age and loved her job like it was her gorgeous husband. I was a newly graduated, newly married, impressionable dude with an eagerness to prove myself in the workaday world. I worked my ass off for her and helped her branch triple in size.
What was success quickly became trouble. Nikki maneuvered herself between myself and clients and somehow managed to manipulate the system to make some of my commission turn up in her pocket. She would make me come in early, work me late on weekends, accuse me of things I had no recollection of doing and hung me out to dry on my mistakes when she made just as many.
Horrible bosses are a dime a dozen. I know I’m not the only person who has had a horrible boss. However, this particular boss caused quite a rift in my life because to this day I still struggle with obsessing over her mistreatment of me. I really didn’t deserve to be treated the way I was because I was more than willing to have done everything for her if she had just treated me as the person I was and not like her former husband who she most obviously hated. I knew this because I could make out the gamut of emotions in her eyes: contempt, hatred, anger, pain, frustration and more.
Nikki’s divorce had left her as a woman scorned. I was the most logical target (quite subconsciously I’m sure). While I was 20+ years younger than her, I was perhaps the one man she had relatively consistent contact with since her husband left her.
I stewed over her mistreatment of me for years after I left the company. Some nights when I couldn’t sleep, I would imagine what I would say to her if I saw her again. I have to admit, they weren’t nice things.
Not shockingly, I ran into Nikki today after seven years of never seeing hide nor hair of her.
It was at my wife’s church (my wife isn’t Catholic but we can get into that later) and I saw her when we walked in. She didn’t notice me but I didn’t want her to. I didn’t want to acknowledge her. This is a woman who I have despised for many years because of what she did… why should I?
Then I remembered her eyes.
If I was to be who I convey myself to be (or trying to be) in this blog then I would do what Jesus would do: show her love and compassion. It became quite obvious that this is what I was being called to do when everywhere I went, Nikki wasn’t far behind (still oblivious to the fact I was even near her). She was consistently in my line of sight.
I knew I was being tested. I didn’t want to fail so I approached her with open arms, gave her a hug and asked her how things were going. Unfortunately, the same look that was in her eyes seven years ago was still there. For me, hatred quickly dissolved into sorrow because I realized she was hurting. She hadn’t changed… but I had.
It was time for me to right the ship.
I didn’t tell her how much I had despised working for her. I didn’t tell her how much pain she had caused me and my family. I didn’t ridicule her ability to effectively manage a successful business. I didn’t say the multitude of mean things I had dreamed up over the years. What I did instead was show her compassion and a funny thing happened: I could literally feel myself being released from the bonds of unforgiveness. It was a feeling I wish I could bottle up and sell to the masses because everyone would want to experience it.
While I didn’t physically say, “I forgive you Nikki”, I know the point came across because I wouldn’t have approached her otherwise. She didn’t need to hear the words… she could see them in my eyes.
And I could feel hatred release its grip on me just a little bit more.
I’ve never felt more free.
“…Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Jesus speaking to the accusers and the woman caught in adultery) – Luke 7:47-48
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” – C.S. Lewis
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” – Mother Teresa