Tuesday, November 10, 2015

FORGIVENESS: Dropping the Ultimate F-Bomb!

Dropping the Ultimate F-Bomb!

I will confess openly that
I drop choice F-Bombs
on a daily basis — faith,
family, Foghat — the list
goes on. But the mightiest,
most effective "bomb" in
my arsenal is, forgiveness.

Sunrise, 6:00-ish, and there I was  like every other Sunday. The surf was rolling out, the early birds were rolling in, and I was positioned near the end of the bar at my neighborhood beachside Starbucks location. With a "holiday-themed" full coffee cup in one hand, I devoured a tasty pastry from the other, while perusing the red ink found within my pink Bible. But on this particular summer-like November Florida morning I also was devouring (along with the aforementioned pastry) a few pages from The Practical Handbook for Christian Living, the must-have life-guide by Dr. Larry Ollison. And as is often the case, the ever-wise Dr. Ollison just happened to hit upon the very subject that for various personal reasons had been weighing heavily on my heart recently. In fact, right at the top of page 176, in BIG bold print, he too dropped the ultimate F-Bomb  FORGIVENESS.

My daily weapons of choice.
We see it every day, and it troubles me to the nth degree. At the workplace, on the street corner, in the media — sometimes even in our own homes and churches (OUCH!)  we see volatile relationships between people who should be loving each other most. And oft times, these splintered relationships between friends and family, husbands and wives, believers and non-believers aren't even the result of the offense itself, but the result of the hard-hearted unwillingness to man-up and offer forgiveness for said offenses. That's right, kids, there's NO vindication in unforgiveness, In fact, unforgiveness is a cancer that eats away at the soul of the offendie, NOT the offender.

"Holding on to unforgiveness is
like drinking poison and expecting
the other person to die."
-Dr. Larry Ollison

At this moment, you might find yourself hopping mad — hopping up and hollering, "Hey, you don't know what 'so-and-so' did to me. You just don't understand!" Really? Well, actually, I understand plenty.

Without dredging up too much junk from the past, let me say that several years ago I lost everything — my family, my pristine home (with an authentic white picket fence), my financial security, my most-cherished KISS memorabilia I mean EVERYTHING! Because of my hard-heart, I just wouldn't let go of what she did. But truth be told, had I simply offered forgiveness and focused on moving forward instead of moving out, I wouldn't have still been ordering from the "Value Menu" at age 40+, I wouldn't have missed any of my son's milestone celebrations, and I certainly would NOT have ever been in the position of partnering with a subsequent girlfriend, flushing our "accident" down the toilet at the ol' clinic! FYI, today, our child (probably a beautiful blond beach girl with braces) would be the same age as most of the teens with whom I now enjoy wonderful personal relationships via my church youth ministry.

Conversely, I was DJ-ing in a Florida nightclub recently when an obviously "impaired" customer managed to pour his entire beer into my DJ booth — just inches from my valuable and expensive electronics — my mixing board, amp and laptop. Regrettably, even as a Christian, my knee-jerk response was offering the guy an entirely different F-Bomb. But as I quickly began sopping-up the unsavory swill with the nearest available bar rags, I was reminded of the perfect examples of unconditional forgiveness offered to us by Jesus. Immediately, I motioned the guy back over to my booth, where I assured him that, "all was forgiven," as I also offered him a big hug. I don't think he saw that one coming. I mentioned the incident to the guy's buddy at closing time, later that night. "Uh-oh," he replied with a sense of genuine concern. "Yeah, 'Bob' hasn't been the same lately since his wife blew her brains out on their driveway last summer." Suffice it to say, I'm truly grateful to God for now being someone who offers forgiveness.

Excerpt from Larry Ollison's
The Practical Handbook
for Christian Living

(Harrison House Publishing)
You might be asking, "Just, how many times am I supposed to forgive somebody who's continually a complete douche?" Well, Apostle Peter asked Jesus that very same question (kinda). Jesus' response was short, sweet, simple and — amazing.

Then Peter came to him (Jesus) and asked,
"Lord, how often should I forgive someone
who sins against me? Seven times?"

"No, not seven times," Jesus replied, 
"but seventy times seven!"
Matthew 18:21-22
(New Living Translation)

You can accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, or you can reject him — I ain't gonna condemn anyone for choosing the latter — we all have free will, although you might want to take a peek-see at John 3:18. However, whether you choose to accept or reject Him, Jesus did once walk the earth and his testimony was perfect. He spoke truth. He spoke unwavering faith. And he ALWAYS walked in love, kindness, compassion and — FORGIVENESS. Heck, even as he was being crucified, Jesus himself dropped the ultimate F-Bomb — "Father, FORGIVE them, for they don't know what they're doing." (Luke 23:34 / New Living Translation) BTW, I would suggest strongly that anyone who runs around like a hate-filled lunatic, killing people, protesting funerals, bombing buildings and spewing venom is NOT representing the real Jesus. 

In sum, let it go, dude. Free yourself of the bondage. Forgive. Forgive big. Forgive always.

-Christopher Long
(November 2015)

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  1. Well written. Perfectly stated. Good to see the vulnerability that is much needed, yet often lacking in testimonial style writing.

  2. Thanks, Scott -- it's always great to hear from you. Your words of encouragement have always meant a lot to me.

    1. You are welcome and for what it is worth, I have seen the growth. It is evident in these open hearted blog entries. Transparency is not for the timid.

  3. Well written, Chris. I'm not a believer, but my paternal grandmother was a very devout Christian. She grew-up on a farm in the deep South with 13 siblings, they were the kind of poor that people today can't even imagine. The form of Christianity that she practiced was much like what you describe in this post. She actually lived every day of her life as Christ-like as possible, long before WWJD was a thing. She taught her kids and grandkids to do the same, even though not one of us is religious. She taught us through example and she often quoted The Bible to explain her choices and actions. Concepts like forgiveness, charity, humility, love, acceptance, kindness, compassion, and honesty weren't just religious ideals for her, they were what defined her faith. My dad framed those same concepts in terms of Honor (he was a Marine), and I frame them in terms of Ethics. We're not that far apart, some of us, believers and non-believers. That kind of commonality of human experience is what makes this post so relatable, I think (it's probably also why you're good with kids.) I just wanted to tell you that I think this approach hits the right balance of directness and commonality, and thank you for reminding me of my grandmother (that doesn't come across the way I intend it, but I think you know what I mean!) Good read!

    1. Wow, Marci -- thanks for the encouragement, and thanks for sharing YOUR story. Your grandmother sounds like she was a great woman. And as for your dad, I'm so grateful for his service -- HONOR, indeed!