a blinky light and forgiveness

Today was one of those perfect fall days here in Chicago. It’s been rainy and cold for a few weeks now but today was one of those perfect fall days… leaves on the ground, clear blue skies, and a crisp 55 degrees. These days remind me why I love fall. So to honor the beautiful day I pulled out my bike. It was sad seeing it inside all these cold rainy weeks, and a perfect fall day called for some biking.

On Mondays I have a night class, theology, from 6:30-9:30 (fun, right?). Even though it was dark by 5:15 I have bike lights so I decided to get all the biking I could out of the day and biked to class. This week theology ended early and I went out to my bike after class only to find that my back blinky light (see the picture below) had been snapped off. My first reaction? Anger of course. I was mad! Sure it only cost $10 or $15, but it was my blinky light! I looked over my bike and was glad to see everything else was still there but I was still angry about that light. It was tightly screwed on so they just snapped the bracket in half to take it away.

I tried to tell myself it was only a light. I tried to remind myself that God has given me a job and that I can replace the light whenever I wanted. I tried to remind myself that it wasn’t worth getting angry about…. but guess what? I was still angry.

Forgiveness is such a messy thing. Tonight, like so many other small occurrences, reminded me that my forgiveness is often conditional. It is so much easier to forgive someone you love. It’s so much easier to forgive someone for their wrong acts done out of personal weakness. It’s so much easier to forgive someone when you have been there yourself. But tonight it took awhile for me to let it go because it was a purely stupid harmful act. Someone is now walking around with a blinky light that they cannot use for anything. The bracket was snapped in half so unless they intend to duct-tape it to their bike it is useless. It’s so hard to forgive someone when they hurt you out of pure spite or enjoyment.

A few weeks ago I read this article about the Amish school shootings. Their ability to forgive still astounds me. Here I am having trouble forgiving someone for stealing a $10 light and they are encouraging each other to forgive the man who shot their friend, their daughter, their granddaughter. It’s just a thing, it’s not a person, a loved one.

So tonight I’m praying… because I have a long way to go until I understand the type of forgiveness Jesus showed. The Amish seem to get it, but I’m still a long ways off…

Forgive, and your sins will be forgiven. -JC

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