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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Postcards (08/29/05)

TITLE: Two Sides of Forgiveness
By Anita Neuman


It started with postcards.

Four of them came in the first week. Five more the week after that. All of them said pretty much the same thing. Religious rhetoric about forgiveness and loving your enemy. All of it was bull, but at least it was mail.

They kept coming. One almost every day. Sometimes two on the same day. I kept them all. Taped them to the wall after Iíd read them once. Same bull, different state flower. They added some colour to the cell.

After a couple of months, the postcards stopped. Instead, I started getting real letters. Now it was family news mixed in with the forgiveness garbage. Like I cared. I didnít know his family. I didnít need his news. I pitched the letters. No point in taping them to the wall.

He asked me to write back. I didnít bother. Didnít have anything to say, other than, ďScrew off.Ē He kept writing anyway.

Then the gifts started. Stupid little things he thought I needed. Gum. A new toothbrush. A Bible. Wool socks. I kept the socks and traded the rest for smokes.

He asked to come and visit. Why? So he can offer his pious forgiveness to my face? So he can pray for me? Not a chance.

Iíd tell him to go to hell, but itís already too crowded here.

It started with postcards.

Iíd only intended to write one. I thought that by offering forgiveness, I would be fulfilling my Christian duty and somehow I would get a sense of the closure Iíd been so desperate for. Watching the trial and sentencing, and seeing him get sent away for the rest of his life hadnít brought closure.

That first postcard said that I was willing to forgive. It was a lie, but I was hoping it would get me off the hook. I knew he wouldnít write back with a gracious acceptance of my offer, so I wouldnít have to go through with the actual forgiveness. I put it in the mail, and prayed that that would be the end of it.

The Holy Spirit was not so easily pacified, though. I didnít sleep at all that night as I wrestled with what God was asking me to do. I had plenty of excuses, but the Spirit had an answer for each and every one. Iíd never before been so torn between loving obedience and justifiable hatred. And I hated that man even more for putting me in such a position.

I determined to write another postcard, but it took me over an hour to write those three words: ďI forgive you.Ē It still felt like a lie, but there was a part of me that desperately wanted it to be true. I mailed it right away, before I could change my mind. I must have looked like a lunatic, standing at the mail box, crying inconsolably.

I needed to write another one as soon as I got home. I didnít feel any more forgiving, but I could not let that monster stand in the way of my obedience to the Father. I had to say it again: ďI forgive you.Ē

I wrote a postcard every day for several weeks. Every time I found my wife weeping on our sonís bed, every time I saw our daughter staring vacantly out the window, every time I felt myself quaking with hatred and soul-deep loss, I wrote a postcard. I told him over and over again that I forgave him, that I was no better than him, that God was helping me to love him.

One day I realized that I meant it. My daily choice to forgive had changed from reluctant obedience to habitual therapy, and then to honest release of my hatred. There was a light at the end of the tunnel.

My explanation wouldnít fit on a postcard, so I began writing letters. I told him how God had been working in my life, bringing healing to me and my family. I told him that I was praying for him every day. I sent him little things, hoping that he would feel touched by Godís love.

Iím still waiting for permission to visit him. Part of me hopes it never comes, but part of me is eager to test my new-found closure by exercising Godís love face-to-face. I know that Iím not up to the task by myself, but the One who calls me to forgive will equip me to obey.

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This article has been read 1085 times
Member Comments
Member Date
dub W09/05/05
I really like the way you put this together, no holds barred. A plain and painful truth. Well done.
Duane Gallop09/05/05
This was one of the most interesting short stories I've ever read!
janet rubin09/05/05
Excellent! A good story of how difficult forgiveness comes- obedience to God, an act of will, until God changes one's heart.
Linda Miller09/06/05
Wow, this is fantastic! Forgiving others is something we all have to work at. You helped us see God helps us in that area when we truly want to forgive. Thank you!
Anna Meadows09/06/05
mmmmm, I liked this one. You did a nice job with it. Very good writing. Thanks for sharing!
Robin McGowan09/08/05
Great entry! I wanted to read more...Well written.
Jan Ackerson 09/08/05
Love it, love it, love it. No pat ending for the reader, just thought-provoking confessions from both your narrators. Perfect.
Debra Brand09/08/05
Very well written. Something we don't read about too often.
Karen Ward09/08/05
Thought provoking, and real, especially on this side of the victims father. I especially liked the paragraph where he talked about his wife and daughter. Just enough information to take us to that horrible place without overwhelming us. God Bless, Karen
Jan Warrick09/08/05
Gut wrenching emotion. You clearly show us this character's struggle. Very powerful piece. Good job. Thank you.
Lauren Bombardier09/08/05
Excellent piece!
Amy Michelle Wiley 09/08/05
Wow! Awesome story. Well done.
Tammy Johnson09/09/05
I loved the two stories in one! You did a great job to fit these two stories into 750 words! I enjoyed it very much and the lesson is very important!
Julianne Jones09/09/05
Wow! This was so good. I liked the way both men's journeys are still incomplete. No pat answers here. Well done.