by Robbie Sanderson
Once upon a time, I was a server at a French-Italian bistro. It was the job of a lifetime, at first. I was trained (and paid, I might add) to be proficient in fine wines, I met a lot of fascinating people, and I made so much money. Like, so much money! I once had so much cash from tips that I could not even close my wallet. Unfortunately, all this came at a great cost. The head chef hated my guts, and the owner had anger issues. Both would blow up at different times over nothing. I once got screamed at for the food taking too long to cook, which was not even my job. While one can find people like this anywhere they go, the difference here is that the anger and hatred bestowed by these two did not stop there. It went much deeper. They made very explicit homosexual jokes about me and the kinds of things I did (which I did not do), they threatened to fire me just about every night (which created a lot of anxiety), and constantly told me that they thought I was slow and dumb. It was toxic there. Well, the straw that broke the camels back was when I got pulled into the freezer by the owner and screamed and cussed at for ten minutes for asking a question, talking to a customer, and being slow. I quit that night.
That experience only happened last summer, and I would be lying if I said I do not still feel bitterness towards the two who hurt me so bad. I feel bitterness because they got away with it and, because they never showed remorse or even thought to apologize for anything. Forgiving them has been tough, but to make the matter more difficult, there was no repentance on their end.
Yesterday, we discussed repentance and how it was a necessary step for forgiveness to follow. I also mentioned that our culture even recognizes this in our relationships. If one does not apologize, there is seemingly no reason to forgive, right? While repentance is vital in our relationship with Christ; in our relationships with other human beings, oftentimes we are not privy to it. This is the case of my restaurant experience. I have never gotten that apology, and honestly, I probably never will. Instead of demanding it, or sitting here waiting for it, I need to continue the work of forgiving regardless. Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you,” (NIV). This does not mean we only forgive those who apologize, but everyone, even our enemies. I have to remind myself of this every day. In fact, it is necessary for us all to remind ourselves of this in every human relationship. It is not easy, but it is fulfilling on the other end. Besides, our call is to “forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
With all of that being said, pray this day that the Lord can not only continue to instill in you a heart of repentance towards him, but likewise, that he continues to instill in you a heart of forgiveness towards others. Like I said, it is not easy, and I am no expert at it, but the benefits of it are more wonderful than can be imagined.