Sunday, September 24, 2017

God + Facebook = Forgiveness

 

by Mary Ellen Shedron

 

If I believed in coincidence, it could easily explain the timing of my editing a story about forgiveness submitted to www.JournEzine.com and then within a couple hours, receiving a Facebook message from a long-ago classmate who left me with a bitter remembrance. 

The timing definitely was NOT coincidence … it certainly WAS a God-thing.

One of this year’s frequent contributors to JournEzine, Donna Rogers, recently offered her story “We Must Be Willing to Forgive” for publishing.

Her story began with “Forgive and forget” has been a saying that has been passed along from generation to generation.  It tends to be said casually as we go about our daily lives.

But Jesus put a premium on forgiveness.  He laid His life down for it.  On the cross as He was crucified, He asked God to forgive those who persecuted Him.  In Luke 23:34, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

A preacher recently put it into perspective: Jesus had a “bad day,” yet He had compassion on the people who put Him on the cross.

“We must be willing to forgive,” the preacher said.

Little did I know just how God intended Donna’s story to guide me to forgiving a schoolgirl who deeply hurt me with her offensive comments.   I’d never forgiven nor forgotten the girl’s words, though I did lock them away in dark corner of my mind.

Forgiveness_wordle

The last time I saw the girl was roughly 45 years ago when I was at her home with several other friends for a Friday night sleepover.  Seeing me eat a brownie, the girl blasted me about being fat, why didn’t I “stop eating like a pig”  and “you’ll never be anything but fat.”  The sleepover’s remaining hours seemed like an eternity.

Fast forward to March 2013.  Thanks a lot Facebook, for being the social media that brings long-lost friends together.

I was cruising Facebook and saw a message come in.  It was from WHO?  Flashback to that Friday night sleepover.  Why on earth would SHE message me?  Did she have more insults she wanted to share?  Do I really want to read this message?  My body tensed and my thoughts certainly weren’t based in Christian love.

She’d seen my name on a Facebook post to another mutual school friend.  She decided to message me to see if I was the same Mary Ellen she knew from school.

I gave brief answers to her questions and didn’t ask her anything, hoping the communication could end quickly and I could forget this unpleasant Facebook experience.

In what I thought be her last message, she revealed bits of her life today.  Unemployed for three years, battling depression and living with her parents.  And, her adult daughter was also living with her.

I couldn’t think of anything to say in response, except the obvious.  I told her I would pray for her.  She appreciated my gesture and asked if we could stay in touch.

I reasoned I was off the hook  for forgiving the girl.  She didn’t ask me for forgiveness.  In my mind it was, didn’t ask-don’t do.

But, given the fact I committed to praying for our God to heal her of depression, guide her to a good job and provide a better living arrangement for her and her adult daughter … how could I harbor hurt from her long-ago words?  As long as I was unforgiving, my prayers for her would go unanswered.  In all likelihood, those long-ago comments were off her recall radar.

As I was editing Donna’s story,  my eyes forced me to see the obvious about the girl: “It was so hard to keep up the mean-spirited attitude she had.  It was hard because I accepted Jesus’ forgiveness of my sins, so I had the Holy Spirit inside of me.”

God graciously forgave my resentment toward the girl … now a woman for whom I promised to pray.  And because I sought forgiveness, God now hears and will answer my prayers for her. 

It’s all definitely a God-thing.

Mary Ellen Shedron  Mary Ellen Shedron  A 23-year career journalist in print/broadcast/web, Mary Ellen pursues God’s heart and her passion for encouragement writing.  Catch her latest inspirational outreach via  https://www.facebook.com/FishesAndLoavesLiving  At 50-something, Mary Ellen is single and wonderfully blessed with family and friends who help her battle multiple sclerosis.

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