Thursday, March 15, 2012


Completely unexpectedly, an old colleague called a few days ago. But wasn't just any call. Though it had been years since we talked, this call was different. You see: our relationship had undergone a few bumpy roads we had not fully recovered from, and my old friend phoned to recall one such particular day that stood out in both of our memories. It was a terrible, heart-wrenching, trust-shattering, confidence-breaking day for me. Yet as events of this day were recalled, I told him, "it is a day I recall clearly, but have not clung to." I'm not sure how true that is, but I've done my best to live into it.

But he didn't stop with that explanation, because the call was surely not to relive it. Rather, he called to offer a deep, heart-felt, God-sent, life-giving, burden-lifting apology.

Sometimes, the things we do, the actions we take, the words we speak: they seep deep inside us. We allow things so unlike ourselves to come out from us, overtaking us, changing us and our relationships, even defining us. Often, when we recall these moments, days, and memories over and over again in our minds, perhaps with regret, we do nothing about it.

Two days after this phone call took place, I received an email from someone in our MFSA network on the same topic of forgiveness. After sharing it with her church, she felt compelled to share her amazing story of forgiveness with others, and invited me to share it widely within our network and beyond.

On a week like this one with two compelling stories that touched me deeply, its hard not to take time for deep reflection on what forgiveness and grace really mean in our lives. In my life. I haven't been able to stop thinking about what that kind of forgiveness means in my life, and how I will carry with me the phone call I received a couple of days ago.

On the phone call, my friend decided to do something about this moment that has weighed so heavily on him over the past few years. This was a moment, after all, that significantly changed our relationship.

So my friend picked up the phone, dialed my number, shared this story, and offered the most genuine apology I could ever have asked for. It was so sincere that I couldn't stop smiling, even amidst the surprise or the recalling of a difficult time. My hand was literally drawn to my mouth in surprise, then over my heart as if in an effort to keep in the many emotions it brought up. But no matter the emotions, I couldn't stop smiling. I could hardly even wait for the gracious words on the other end of the line to conclude before I offered the most heartfelt forgiveness I have ever been blessed to offer.

I could not stop smiling at the peace I suddenly felt about the situation, about the heartache it had caused me.

I couldn't stop smiling because I knew a friendship had been healed and transformed over 4 seemingly simple words:"I am so sorry."

Most importantly: I couldn't stop smiling because I knew how much healing this short conversation offered.

I know how healing it was for me: the years of painful memories that honestly seem to have washed away with healing through forgiveness and gratitude of sincerity. Even as I write this, I am amazed to discover for myself that this kind of apology, paired well with acknowledgement of pain and undue suffering, can bring such wholeness and restoration.

Yet my biggest smile of all was for none of these reasons. It was for my friend on the other end of the line. I can only hope this forgiveness I have experienced and granted today was felt on the other end of that line. I smile wide for my friend, sharing in joy, hoping that they too can have a burden lifted and replaced with God's everlasting and abundant grace.

Thank you, friend, for making that difficult call after all of these years. Thank you, Bunnie, for sharing your story in your gracious email. To both of you: You may never know what it has meant to me or taught me to be a part of your stories in this way: I can only hope and pray it has had the same effect on you.