I sent a box of chocolates to a woman who had offended me greatly. Let me tell you a beautiful story of forgiveness:
The repairman looked up from my dishwasher. “Your last name is Henson. Did you use to live on Parkland Avenue?”
“Yes I did,” I replied.
“Aren’t you religious?”, He asked.
“Well no I’m not, but I do have a personal relationship with Jesus.”
“You may remember my wife, she owns a flower shop. A couple of years ago you sent her a letter.”
My mind went back to Valentines Day a few years back. Vance had ordered flowers for our little girls. He went into a flower shop a few days earlier and put in his order and asked if they could deliver them first thing in the morning on Valentines Day. He wanted the girls to enjoy the flowers all day and thought if he went in a few days earlier, he would stand a better chance at seeing that happen.
The special day arrived, and I watched for the delivery person. By lunchtime, still no flowers. By supper time, no flowers. The girls had been waiting all day and were starting to wonder if they were going to arrive.
We were invited over to Vance’s moms for dinner. We called the flower shop and let them know we wouldn’t be home, but were now at a different address. Finally, at around 8 pm the flowers showed up at the door, just before the girl’s bedtime.
I was disappointed that the flower shop had not delivered during the day or the evening but at bedtime. A few days later I wrote them a letter since I thought they had given poor service for the amount of money my husband had forked out. Plus, our girls had waited all day for the flowers.
A few weeks later I received a letter in the mail. To say it was a nice, polite letter would be a lie. There was nothing pleasant about the letter, no apology and no “I’m sorry.” The letter was angry and basically told me I was selfish and had ruined my husband’s generosity by complaining. What she didn’t know was my husband was disappointed too that the flowers had arrived so late.
When I read her letter, I was mad! I showed it to Vance then went on a rant about how rude the lady was. Vance read it, then said to me, “You hurt her feelings, she is very hurt.” That’s not the response I wanted from my husband. Now he was siding with the rude flower lady. I was going to write an even nastier letter back…
A few days later I was driving in my car when I could hear that whisper in my ear. “Cindy, respond in love and grace instead of anger. Heap coals on her head.”
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21 & 22
I was convicted. I wanted to strike out, get back at her and make her pay! God was asking me to do the opposite.
“Buy her a box of chocolates and a nice card, and send them to her.”
I mailed her the chocolates and the card apologizing for hurting her feelings and asking her to forgive me. I never heard back from her and actually forgot about it till the repairman brought it up. He had repaired our dishwasher in our previous home years back before I had sent the first letter and he remembered I was a Christian.
He told me she was very touched by the fact that I would apologize to her and send her chocolates. Then he said her side of the story. She had just bought the flower shop and knew Valentines Day was a big deal, and she wanted to get everything right and also please all her customers. At the end of Valentines Day, she was ecstatic that she and her staff had pulled it off, they had gotten all the order delivered… then my letter came. She was heartbroken. An unhappy customer was complaining. Her bubble of happiness had been burst by me.
How do you think I would have felt if her husband had asked me if I was religious and knew I had sent a nasty letter back to her? My heart was overwhelmed that God knew one day I would be standing in front of her husband claiming to be a Christian and my testimony of how I responded to someone who had not been gracious to me, would be laid out before him.
Is that the response you usually give to people who hurt you?
Hurt them back and make them pay till they apologize!!!
Yes, that is one of the options that are available to you, but I can tell you it will bring you no joy. Responding in anger when someones hurt us is our human instinct, we are all guilty. I for one have been famous in my lifetime for wanting to strike out when hurt. Years ago, I could ignore my husband for up to a week if I was mad at him. Yes, I was very immature and needed a course in “Grow Up 101.”
Eventually, I learned to forgive and not hold grudges. It had hit me one day that if I hurt Vance, he always forgave me immediately. He never held a grudge. So why wasn’t I treating him with the same respect and forgiveness he offered me. That was a real wake up call. I was getting nowhere with my tactics and manipulation. Nothing was being solved, just the harboring of bitterness.
Jesus was the ultimate example of forgiveness. After the soldiers whipped him, beat him, nailed him to a cross all the while mocking him, he looked to heaven and said these words:
“Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” Luke 23:34a
Whatever grudge you are holding on to, consider letting it go, and offering forgiveness and grace to the person who doesn’t deserve it. In doing so, you will be free. I have not regretted for one moment sending that box of chocolates, for, at that moment, God had asked me to respond with love instead of anger … love always wins.