School Carnival. Climax, Minnesota. 1973.
It was an annual event where a king and queen were crowned, teachers got soaked in the dunk-‘em booth, cheap game prizes were won in the gym, and the cake walk was celebrated in the cafeteria.
I wore a purple hot pants outfit.
With a purple headband. And purple tights.
The outfit was…purple.
Whatever was I thinking.
Back then, I felt like royalty. Royalty wearing purple.
The look made me feel beautiful…even a little trim.
Now, it’s one of those memories that makes me smile and roll my eyes…
And wonder if other students questioned my choice of fashion at that time.
(Seriously. I’m sure someone did.)
There are some memories that just cause us to shake our heads and remember those times as typical growing up stories.
Not a big deal. Stories welaugh about and embellish at school reunions.
Then there are memories of words or actions that don’t feel as fun.
“We don’t talk about that.”
Memories of hurts or betrayal or disappointments that can’t be undone.
Memories of times that were tough and are not the events we like to talk about.
Events that happened in those growing up years … or even 6 months ago.
Know what I mean?
It’s in those memories—those stories—that life got messy.
And nothing can ever change those stories.
So.What do we do with those memories?
Even after 5, 10, 25, or 50 years? Or 6 months?
How do we keep them from binding our hearts and ruling our emotions today?
We choose to forgive.
Oh, such a tough thing to do sometimes.
Because we aren’t talking about purple hot pants memories anymore.
Here’s a bit about what I’ve learned when memories from long ago (or yesterday) take me away from my happy place and move me to a place of anger and resentment …
God forgives me.
Oh, the beauty of this. So undeserving…and such love. To be loved by a God who looks beyond my failures and my hurtful actions…Such a gift.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:11-12)
God requires me to forgive others.
I wish He didn’t require this. It seems too big. Too unfair. It seems that justice is lost and “the other person gets away with it” if I release the pain and forgive. And yet, forgiveness is about MY heart. And God is clear. He wants us to live in relationship first with Himself, and then with each other.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)
God will give me the strength to forgive.
Oh, God, give me this strength. Bring my heart to a place where I can say “Yes” to you and your love-filled command. I cannot do this on my own.
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
Forgiveness isn’t forgetting.
Forgiveness is letting go of past pain that ties us down and then releasing ourselves to live freely, with great excitement about today and tomorrow.
Forgiveness is not allowing someone else’s past actions to determine how we live today.
Forgiveness is showing Grace. Mercy. Love. Even when the other person (or yourself) does not seem to deserve it.
Forgiveness is Obedience.
If forgiving yourself or that person who pops into your head seems too big right now…
Then just consider the idea.
Ask God for courage.
In forgiveness, that part of our story doesn’t change.
But the ending will.
And that really matters.