I love to read novels, especially historical fiction. Beach time is one of my favorite times for reading. I recently returned from an Isle of Palms vacation and read Lisa Wingate’s book THE LANGUAGE OF SYCAMORES. Why did this novel make me want to comment here? I guess because the story character Sadie reminded me that every family on earth encounters dysfunction. In the story, Sadie’s name had been scratched out of the family Bible… Serious right?
Sadie’s sister Rose was the grandmother of the central character (Karen) in the novel. Rose had two sisters in life, but Sadie was the one sister scratched out of the family Bible. What could possibly have caused this kind of estrangement? We might find ourselves asking the same question in our own families. Now about Sadie – stop reading now if you don’t want to discover a partial spoiler in Wingate’s story. This is close to the ending, an excerpt from a letter that Grandma Rose wrote to Karen before she passed away, but which remained regrettably unread by Karen for a few years after Rose’s passing:
“There is one last thing I must ask you to do for me, my practical girl. Make amends with your sister. Do not harbor the little grudges of childhood. How I wish I could deliver this message to my own dear sisters: I am sorry. Just that. I was wrong. I held a grudge when I should have forgiven. I criticized when I should have loved. Most people need love much more than they need critics. Remember that, and you will live a good life. I Love You, Grandma Rose.”
I’m thinking there are even bigger grudges in adulthood because we are more sophisticated in our opinion-forming and blaming energies. And lots of us are the practical ones, with pretty good arguments. I can relate…
But, Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” This made me think of what it often takes to forgive – and that is very often giving up my right to be right. It is taking time to listen. Taking time to respect. Taking time to consider. Taking time to be grateful. Taking time to remember what is good and praiseworthy. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
My opinion-forming energies are always working in overdrive until something reminds me to wake up out of my slumber. Recently, that wake up call was a car accident that could have taken out one of my children or grandchildren or all of the family. If I remember how much I have been forgiven, then I have no other motive except to know the Lord God and act like a forgiven child and recipient of His grace. God’s Truth has a melting effect. I have the freedom to forgive freely as I have been forgiven. And I have the freedom to spread grace around. What a wonderful use of precious time.
There is work that is worthy: I must cast off my non-forgiving motives. Cast off my self-reformation. Cast off my success-building in interpersonal relationships. Cast off being right about all my well-nursed grievances. Truly, love trumps every issue that might steal my joy, slurp up my emotional energy, or threaten my sense of justice. Love reminds me of the tremendous loss and grief that I would have experienced had that car accident turned out differently than it did. And the tremendous loss and grief that would have been experienced by others in the family Bible, those scratched out and those not scratched out.
Thank you Sadie for reminding me of the forgiveness that it is a privilege for me to extend to others for God’s glory. Thank you my Dear Parents for drilling this quote into me and my brother when we were growing up – “let us love one another.” Dear God, please make me less practical, less critical, less graceless. Help me never to write anyone out of the family Bible.