I love forgiveness. Today I checked my online banking status and thought my credit card statement was a bit high. I looked through my last month's purchases and aside from a splurge on books for my upcoming reading course, there was nothing significant that would account for the large amount owing. Well, after a bit of research, I discovered that last month I paid $600 towards Dean's credit card instead of my own (they are right beside each other on the bill payment list). Oops! After I discovered the mistake, I immediately paid my bill, 6 days late, and hoped the interest charges wouldn't be too bad.
Dean suggested that I call the credit card people to explain and make sure it didn't affect my credit rating. Really? That just seemed silly. I made the mistake, I will pay for it. Why do they need to hear my whiny excuses about how I failed to distinguish between two really long numbers on a list? Blonde, distracted moment, pure and simple.
Well, I decided I could call and at least ask how it would affect my next bill, so I did. The woman I reached was very pleasant and listened to my sad story of how I paid one bill when I meant to pay another. That's what she's trained to do, after all. Then she asked what my regular pattern of payment was. I told her I always paid in full. She checked it out and confirmed that I had an excellent payment record. Then she asked, "Would you like me to see if I can do something for you regarding this matter?" What? I didn't even have to plead? She just offered? I said, "Thank you, yes, that would be great." She came back a minute later to explain that I was to ignore any interest charges on my next bill because she was reversing them and they would be credited to my account. Also, my credit rating would not be affected because it was less than 30 days late. It was all back to normal, just like that.
I make mistakes. I am human. I expect to pay for these mistakes. That is justice. That is right. But then this mysterious gift called forgiveness comes along and messes with the whole system of 'tit for tat' that keeps things in equilibrium. I love receiving forgiveness, but it is not always easy. Sometimes I still feel like I should pay for what I have done, because if I don't pay, someone else has to. At times I feel like I got away with something, and I don't like that. I desperately want to feel like I made it right and can walk away with a clear conscience. Sometimes I feel like I need to prove myself or be punished to make sure I learn my lesson before forgiveness will be granted, but then forgiveness would not be a gift, would it? I am getting better at receiving forgiveness. I still don't like asking for it, but I am learning that humility and honesty are part of that equation as well. Forgiveness is good for me. In a strange way, it actually makes me more aware of my shortcomings and my angry, selfish heart while at the same time wiping the mistakes away.
I need forgiveness every day. I am sure that I need it more than I realise or admit. I know I am all too tied to the debit and payment system, relying on my own merits and actions to make things right and keep things in balance. Jesus said: A person who is forgiven little shows only a little love (Luke 7:47). I want to love much, so that means I need to get better at seeing my need for forgiveness and embracing mercy. Why not start asking for it here and now? Why not learn to receive it graciously and humbly as often as it is offered? Open my eyes, Jesus, to see how much larger forgiveness can be in my life. Let it be a doorway to loving richly.
This is a painting by my friend, Natasha. I posted it on my blog earlier this week, then realised that was wrong, so I deleted it and asked for her permission to use it. Here it is now, with permission, with mercy, through forgiveness.