Anyone that knows me knows this… I LOVE peanut butter pie! I believe a good piece of peanut butter pie can solve many an issue or grievance. I even believe a good piece of peanut butter pie can warm a frigid heart a few degrees. It is hard to be sad with a piece of peanut butter pie on hand.
I like to think then that I am pretty easy to please, especially when it comes to birthdays or special occasions. I have long said that a nice card with a few personal words and a piece of peanut butter pie is all I ever need. Yep, that is all. That sounds pretty easy, right? My husband might not agree…
Throughout our twentyone years, Grant has forgotten my birthday a couple times and our anniversary a time or two as well. It is safe to say that on those particular occasions, there was no peanut butter pie or card coming my way. But would you believe that I still was lacking peanut butter pie on almost all of the other known special days too?! There was one fateful birthday when he bought me a banana cream pie. I have never eaten a single entire piece of banana cream pie in my life. I am not a fan. Then there was the year he made me an inedible white birthday cake. Our sons managed to get through a piece but the rest made it to our garbage disposal quickly. I did appreciate the effort. Did I happen to mention that peanut butter PIE was my favorite of all favorite? A cake is ok; pie has always been better.
I wish I could say that I have always been gracious and merciful during such spousal oversights, but I have not. Walking in forgiveness is a sign of true Christian growth and maturity, one in which I have fallen short many times. Did you know that truly forgiving someone means not bringing up the offense again and again…and again…in an effort to be sure that the offending person suffers what you feel is only fair? It is hard to say how many times through the years the ole’ lack of peanut butter pie and special occasion oversights have been laid back on Grant’s plate via me. Those little reminder jabs seem to slip out every now and again. I suppose it is easy to keep jabbing when one feels certain that they would certainly never act in the same “offending’ way themselves. Self-righteousness is not a pretty thing. Extending forgiveness whether it is deserved or not is a beautiful act inspired by the Lord, but taking it back to sling a bit more mud from time to time tarnishes and destroys such beauty. It grieves the Lord. Aren’t you grateful the Lord does not treat us in such a way? His forgiveness is complete and final.
Then the “impossible” happened…
October 12, 2017. The alarm clock rang at 6:30am but Grant was still in bed. He is usually out and gone to work by then. I was totally shocked when he said he was staying home that day. He NEVER takes a random day off of work. I even got a bit annoyed for a moment that he did not tell me beforehand so that I could pick up a work shift to help out then. I was about to express my irritated sleep-deprived opinion when I looked over at our dresser to see a dozen gorgeous red and pink roses. What in the world??!! I turned back to my husband. “Happy Anniversary.” His words pierced my heart like a dagger. Yes, I had done the impossible; I had forgotten our anniversary! I had never forgotten a single special occasion in our entire marriage. The first slip-up came on the very day of our twenty-one-year mark. I felt horrible beyond words. I could not muster a single word. I love words. I am never lacking for words. In that moment, I had nothing.
Grant knew immediately that I had forgotten. He let out a chuckle and moved on. Yep, you read that right. He moved on. I apologized profusely over and over. He told me that he forgave me. He proceeded to bring me a gift bag which had a brand new white lab coat for my upcoming nurse practitioner clinicals for graduate school. There was a beautiful card in the bag as well with some sweet personal words written by him. The tears just kept rolling down my face. His gifts were incredibly thoughtful. I had nothing… nothing to say except how sorry I was over and over, and nothing to give him. No card, no gift, no nothing.
Grant’s quick and no-strings-attached forgiveness impacted me deeply. My first natural inclination was to prepare myself for some accusations and words of guilt coming my way, which would have been well-deserved. We do that to make sure the person who hurt us understands the depths of our pain. And yet, such words only bring strife and defensiveness. The irony was that when those words did not come, I was forced to lay down my defenses altogether. Grant’s kindness and mercy melted any hardness that was trying to wrap around my heart. The kinder he was, the sorrier I was. I began to consider how I had acted in years past in the very same situation reversed and I was deeply sorry for my lack of mercy. A wave of true repentance came over me which never would have happened if I had felt attacked or guilted for my mistake. The freedom I received from Grant’s forgiveness allowed for both of us to truly celebrate that day, no matter how it started. When you extend forgiveness to one who hurts you, God is able to break their heart in a good way. It is a way that changes them forever and brings them closer to the Lord.
Grant extended mercy, which is far better than judgment. He extended forgiveness, which is far better than offense. He extended grace, which is never deserved but is precious and invaluable, and far better than accusations. Grant reacted in a way pleasing to the Lord and it brought wholeness and healing to both of us.
Now I am aware that there are some very hurtful offenses that are far worse than forgetting an anniversary or birthday, but God’s ways are always right. His word mandates that we forgive one another, no matter the situation. The Lord gave his very life so that we could be forgiven of our sins. We must, in turn, be willing to forgive others, even when they are not sorry. We only hurt ourselves and those around us when we refuse to obey the Lord in this.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
The choice is yours but I can say with absolute certainty that forgiveness free and clear is the right one.
I do still love peanut butter but there is a new favorite on my list…Humble Pie, with a side of crow. I highly recommend it!!