Friday, 15 June 2012
Yesterday I invited a cousin to join my mom and me at our favorite, local restaurant when I spotted her, sitting alone at another table. I was motivated by simple Christian hospitality; but I began to regret it almost immediately.
You see, my cousin is one of the biggest gossips in my community. Hers is one of the faces which comes into my mind whenever the Holy Spirit reminds me to continuously forgive those who gossiped about me with the horrific slander which eventually sent me to prison for a crime which neither I nor anyone else actually committed. That was years ago. I'd like not only to forgive but also to forget it. But truth be told I'm still wrestling with it in my soul. It just keeps coming up again, over and over. ("an agent of satan to buffet me...")
After grumbling about how on-the-job training of some new waitresses had adversely impacted her usual level of personal attention on this visit, she began to tell my mom and me about the latest rumors going around in her circle of gossips. I did not care to hear this gossip. That apparently revealed itself in my demeanor because she complained that I wasn't paying close enough attention to her and what she was saying. Well, DUH!!! (As I'm wondering why God did not give me the grace needed to gently confront her right then and there, He just spoke to me that she could not and would not have received such; and would have made a loud enough scene to offend me beyond my own ability to receive it gracefully.) Yep! Still wrestling with it.
And yet I remember this woman did her best to welcome me back into our community when I came home from that prison stay. She found a discrete moment to remind me back then that Christ has forgiven us all of our sins, including the crimes (she assumed) I had committed. I truly believe she had no idea at all that her assumption of my guilt concerning the crimes I was slandered with stung me all the more deeply because she is a relative and should have known better. I steeled myself then and said in my heart, as my Savior had said regarding me, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" But being coarse, carnal, and far from perfected in my faith, I added "So please forgive the ignorant bitches, especially those who are my brothers and sisters in Christ!"
Ain't the sanctification process a grand trip!?