A picture of forgiveness

Last week we had a playdate with some favorite friends. The little girls were drawing with sidewalk chalk, and somehow my Ann got bonked on the head. She came running to me, crying; her friend had hurt her. She threw herself in my arms, telling me the story of what happened, tears streaming down her tiny face. I smiled to myself, amused at her lack of perspective—sobbing as though a chalk mark on her little forehead was the worst thing that could happen. As her mama, I could see that not only was the injury minor, but that her tiny friend had never intended to hurt her.

But I couldn’t say that to a barely 3-year old. Instead, I held her and comforted her, wiping her tears and stroking her sweet little cheek. Ann struggled to calm down; she needed more snuggles and hugs, which was just fine. How I delighted to love her and hold her and remind her through the cuddles that I am her safe place—she has nothing to fear while in my embrace.

Eventually, the tears subsided and she was able to forgive her friend with a smile and go on playing. Later, as I reflected on that scene, I thought about how perfect Ann’s response was—she didn’t yell at her friend or try to retaliate. She didn’t stew in passive aggressiveness. She didn’t talk about the offense to the other children. Instead, she ran straight into the safety and love of her mama’s arms where she would find comfort, safety, and affirmation.

I don’t know how long until she decides to respond to a hurt in other ways besides seeking her mama’s love, but I can’t help but wonder, What would happen if, every time I am offended or hurt by another person, my first response is to run to my heavenly Father and remain in his presence? What if I rested in his arms, being reminded of his love and forgiveness of my own sins, until the truth of his love washed over me and I was ready to forgive?

Wouldn’t it make all the difference? Instead of texting a friend in righteous indignation or replaying the offense in my mind over and over again, instead of hashing it out over and over to my husband over dinner or crying in hurt and rage until I physically exhaust myself, instead of passive aggressively brushing it off and emotionally shutting down, what if I simply ran straight to Jesus and stayed there? What effect would dwelling in the place of God’s grace have on my heart and on my ability to forgive others?

I realize that Ann getting bonked on the head is such a very small thing and that not only are there no long-term consequences but no short-term consequences; yet I still delight in her response to seek safety and love. I love that she had faith enough in my love for her that she knew my arms would be a healing place.

Do I have that faith? Do I trust that if I turn to God after someone has hurt me that he will provide healing? Do I believe him when he says he loves me?

In what ways do you struggle to turn to God when you have been hurt or offended? What facets of forgiving others do you wrestle with? How is God asking you to trust him today?