Mercy and Hellfire on Facebook

Friended a few people I haven’t seen in years. Suspect there is some unfinished business between us.

Seeing their faces pop up on screen, I miss them. Their smiles, laughter, presence. How close we once were. How much a part of each other’s lives. Now years and silence are all we share. Sigh.

When I fretted over a recent class reunion, a friend told me we’ve all grown up. She said you have to hope people have gotten past the drama of high school. Let’s not even talk about college.

Hope. Did you catch that? Do we really get past those transgressions?

I remember there was one person in particular I hurt terribly. I would like to dig a hole, crawl inside and die for how badly I behaved. If anyone ever had a reason never to speak to me again, this person did.

What a surprise when at said reunion this person approached me with a welcoming handshake and a warm hug. He’s grown up. He’s gracious. And I am mercifully forgiven.

We’ve all been wronged at some point. I was the target of fickleness and cruelty too. I still am at times, even with the adults populating my life today.

I’m reminded to put down my saber, let go and forgive. Christian cliché? Forgive and forget. Let go and let God.

I’m not interested in that kind of forgiveness.

I’m talking about the hard won, humanly impossible forgiveness. The kind that runs deeper than the wound.

The kind I may have to revisit on my knees a few times over a few years. The kind that brings freedom once it’s complete.

There may be relationships that cannot and will not be reconciled, despite forgiveness on my part or theirs.

People on Facebook or in real life or in the past I must leave be. Nix reaching out, lest I pull back a nub.

Still those moments of remembering leave me wanting. Those faces on my screen draw me in.

In some cases, I bravely reach out and accept my just desserts. The judgment fire of burned bridges as a consequence of my sin or someone else’s.

And in other cases? As the messages of acceptance trickle in one by one, I am flooded by the gift of mercy. And it is very good.

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. Isaiah 44:22 NIV

This post was first published on February 20, 2011, here.

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