Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Ohhh…. (02/04/10)
TITLE: To Forgive or Not
By Allen Stark
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There was a time when my youngest brother was a toddler that he actually ate my homework. I didn't need to blame it on the family dog. Then there was another time my oldest sister became so angry at me that she took one of my school books and ripped every page in it. Ohhh, what did I do to deserve that? All I did was take a pill bug, you know, one of those roly-poly-type bugs, and roll it in some of our mom's carob chocolate and tell her it was a chocolate raisin. And then there was the time when all I got for Christmas was a toy dump truck and my older brother took it to play with and left it in the park for some kid to find. Ohhh, and then there were those bites I sustained when my baby sister didn't like me telling her not to do something.
So how did I retaliate? Instinctively, of course, as any enraged sibling would do, I shouted at them, and if my parents weren't around I'd hit or threaten to hit them. It would take us most of the day, or going off to bed at night, to cool down. And then, as any good parents would do, they had us say things like, “I'm sorry,” and “I forgive you.” Ohhh, and sometimes whenever I hesitated and didn't forgive them right away they would cry or scream, “Allen didn't forgive me!” Ohhh brother!
As we grew older we became more tolerant of each other and didn't get into as many squabbles. Our fighting and squabbles gave way to irritations, such as interrupting each other, being too noisy when we were attempting to listen to our favorite radio show (we didn't have a TV), or just saying things we knew would bug each other. On these occasions we seemed to cool down quicker and forgive each other more readily.
Finally, being the second oldest and the one who seemed to learn patience first, my anger and frustrations gave way to stares. Ohhh yes, some were more mean than others. I learned to do it in a way that made them feel guilty and they began leaving me alone more and more.
However, now that I am older and don't have ready access to my siblings, they can't see my stares when I get upset with them. When this happens it seems to bring back memories from the past and I wonder if I really meant to forgive them or not. Did I forgive because I felt a threat hanging over my head? Or did I forgive them because I meant to? Ohhh well, I haven’t figured that one out yet.
Today, when people do bad things that cause me to become angry, I approach from an informed perspective. Over the years I have been taught things like Alexander Pope said, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Ohhh, and don’t forget what the Bible says, “If you do not forgive men (including siblings), neither will your Father forgive your offenses” (Matt. 6:15).
The one verse that gives me some trouble is the one that says, “And to the one who strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other one also” (Luke 6:29). Sometimes I feel as though I have offered all four of my cheeks. But I'll continue to offer them and try harder not to think or say unkind things about people, and say a prayer for them instead, including my siblings.
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