Another wonderful post from my wife, Shannon . . .
While cleaning out some boxes this past weekend, I ran across one of my most treasured pictures of my children. A former friend had made a picture of my young son kissing my infant daughter on the cheek, the picture was set in sephia tones, and the picture was given to me as a part of a greater Mother’s Day present to her loved ones. When we walked in the door after church, the framed pictures were displayed on a table, and I while I do not remember the other shots, I am sure those pictures were as treasured as mine.
What a great memory, I thought, and I would love to talk to her about it, but alas I can’t because we are no longer friends. Beyond the awkward chance meetings at Wal-mart, we are now strangers. How often has this happened in my life? Too often to count. Unfortunately this is a toxic byproduct of the painful process of breaking fellowship when one leaves a church. Because, when you “leave a fellowship” you leave the relationships as well. It is just too hard because you either lose track of each other’s lives because you don’t see them every week, or there are hurt feelings that build a wall between friends.
But is there a better way? Two key scriptures come to mind:
And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and teach is brother, saying ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Who has more to forgive? God or us? Do we sin? Yes! Do we cause wounds in each other both intentionally and unintentionally? Yes! But should we live our lives keeping score of what happened to us? According to scripture? No! We should follow the example of the Lord and cast these hurts away.
Sure, one says, I forgive but I don’t forget. But the lack of forgetfulness leaves a wall between us. I am not saying you rebuild relationship, sometimes you can’t, but wouldn’t it be nice to actually speak to someone and have a conversation without feeling that gulf between you and them?
So I am going to try to be more forgetful. More forgetful of the pain and concentrate more on the joy of having had them in my life, whatever the length of time the season lasted.