So apparently, tomorrow in the USA, people celebrate Thanksgiving. To be honest, in France, we don’t officially celebrate it.
Some do, thought: I’ve seen students on TV once who, attracted by this joyous tradition gathering friends and family together and, probably as well by the idea of having the oh-so-American pumpkin pie and a slice of turkey, attempted to celebrate this holiday.
Today, this post is not about celebrating myself or written in order to bring attention to Stéphanie, but to share something that has happened to me lately and that gave me such a valuable lesson.
I once lost a friend. A dear friend of mine whom I loved dearly. We all make mistakes in relationships, but never would I have hurt her intentionally. Ever. That friend turned her back on me and walked out of my life, and girls know how devastating it can be to lose a good friend or a best friend. The friend who shared your dreams. Who knows your secrets. Who has seen you, sometimes, in your most vulnerable state. The friend you did so much for, listened to for countless hours- and after all you did for him/her, chooses to remember that one little mistake you did. Forgets all the good you’ve done. And walks away.
When friends become complete strangers.
But you fight. You fight to save your friendship. You apologize. Once. Twice. And nothing. Your kind words won’t stir up any reciprocate kindness. Your text messages are either left unanswered or, when an answer is absolutely needed, are replied with a cold, diplomatic “ok”, “yes” or “no”. Your attempts to “win the person back” are rewarded by a proud, I don’t care about you attitude.
It happened to me. And I was on the edge of looking down on that person for leaving me. I was tempted to think of myself highly, and to think that I was better than her: I’ve seen her flaws yet overlooked them. I do one mistake and she seems to hate me. The blame game is so easy.
But something happened. I realized that I was not better than her when it came to the most important relationship in my life, i.e, my relationship with God. God never wronged me. God has always been good. And with all the goodness He displayed in my life, and continues to display, how often have I answered Him with a cold, diplomatic reply ? Or answered Him at all ? Instead of being humbled by all the mercies in my life, I often take all the credit instead of being amazed at the goodness of God in spite of my shortcomings. My ungratefulness. My sins.
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?“- Romans 2:4
What happened with my friend gave me a fresh, new perspective on forgiveness and the Cross. You see, Christ, unlike me, never wronged anybody. He is good. He is life. He is love ! In spite of this, though no fault could be found in Him, He was put to death. He was rejected, despised and killed. When I was younger, and I watched movies retracing the life of the Lord, I used to condemn proudly those who killed our Lord. They are bad people. We are good.
Yet what I failed to see is that by my life and affections, I was turning my back at Christ and hating Him as well. He was the Author of Life, and the Giver of good things, and I didn’t want Him to rule over me, though what I could not understand at this time is that He was and is Lord of everything even if I don’t wanted to.
It’s incredible what the Lord has done on the cross. He has done something that never someone in History was able or even willing to do. He died for His ennemies. The perfectly Just, the King, dying for such ungrateful little humans.
You see, it is after those considerations that I began to understand what that “love your ennemies” thing came down to. If Christ the Just forgave His ennemies, I, the unjust, the forgiven, has to forgive my ennemies. As C.S Lewis puts it,
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
So tomorrow, though there will probably be no turkey in my plate, and though I won’t bake a pumpkin pie, it will be Thanksgiving. And I hope that all the days of my life would be Thanksgivings. Never He wronged me. He has been and always been the incarnation of goodness, goodness itself. He died for me.
He lost everything and took my shame. And his reply is not a cold no, yes, maybe. He went to Heaven and said He would prepare a place for us. I never deserved such goodness. I pray, therefore, that I would be thankful for His gift, and that just as He forgave me, I would forgive others as well.