When I was a young boy my best friend, Paul, lived next door. Paul and I got into a lot of mischief including painting our faces with green house paint. But every now and then we would fight, wrestle, or hurt each other’s feeling. It was the nature of a young friendship. I must have said or done something wrong because one time Paul picked up a rake and hit me with it right between the nose and upper lip. Needless to say I needed quite a few stitches, and I was prohibited from playing with Paul for a while. As soon as my mother let me go outside and play with Paul again he did it again. I probably said something I should’t have.
Funny thing, as soon as I could, I crossed the fence to Paul once again. He was my friend, and I didn’t want a stitched up lip to get in the way of our friendship and the good times we had together. If i had listen to my mother who said, “You are not to ever go over to Paul’s ever again!” I would have missed out on years of wonderful friendship.
As you I got older the wounds dished out by friends and enemies alike aren’t as visible as twenty stitches, but they hurt more and deeper. It would be easy to carry hatred in my heart for some who have tried to harm me and my family over the years, but to what end. Carrying hatred is a heavy load — a lesson Paul and I learned early. Forgiveness can be the most freeing thing you ever do.
Forgive because you must.