I almost had a car accident the morning and it would have been totally my fault. Worse than that is knowing I could have caused great injury to someone else or someone else’s property.
Why? Because while driving I had a momentary lapse in concentration. Sure did. After running errands, I was on my way home and simply put, not paying close attention. I wasn’t on the phone, wasn’t listening to the radio. In fact, if you’d have asked me a few seconds earlier, I would have said I was practicing very safe driving.
I only knew I nearly caused an accident when, after turning a corner, I heard a car horn blaring at me, and out of the corner of my eye was able to see a car driving past way too close for comfort.
I immediately felt terrible.
I felt terrible, but I also thanked God for protecting the other person as well as myself. I still desperately wanted to express sorrow to the other driver, but there was no way to make that happen.
I bet you’ve found yourself in a similar situation. Not necessarily while driving a car but perhaps without meaning to, you caused or almost caused harm to someone else through your words, an action, or even a look.
As a believer, most times I think I’m fairly kind-hearted. And since I genuinely care for others, it really is never my intent to cause hurt. Yet I do. Just this past weekend, I hurt the feelings of our youngest grandson. After spending some great time helping him with a game he devised for the adults, I blurted out a clue he didn’t want me to. And that blunder cancelled out all the fun we had had up to that point.
My heart was heavy with grief and I couldn’t apologize enough. I wanted to take back my mistake. And I wanted to erase his pain. But none of that was possible.
In life, we will undoubtedly cause pain to others.
Sometimes on purpose and many times without intent. Likewise, on occasion, we will find ourselves on the receiving end of pain.
While I couldn’t do much more than apologize to Callan, there are a few things we can do when we find ourselves on the giving or receiving end of pain. If we doled it out, we need to apologize, as quickly as possible. Even if we don’t find out until later, we need to do what we can to correct the situation as soon as we realize what we’ve. With sincerity and without blaming the reason on anyone or anything else, our heartfelt apology will go a long way to righting the wrong.
If, however, we find ourselves on the receiving end of a hurtful action, we also have a choice in our own re-actions. It’s so easy to take on the offense, play the victim card, and wallow in the pain. Whether or not the other person ever apologizes or even realizes what they’ve done, just forgive them. Yup. It’s that simple.
Everyone is guilty.
Everyone is guilty of uttering words they wish they could take back. We’ve all inflicted pain…yes, even on purpose. We may even have caused pain without realizing what we did or said was hurtful.
If we are quick to forgive, the pain can hopefully begin dissipating sooner. Often, a conversation won’t even need to take place. You simply forgive in your heart, and move on.
Other times, a conversation will be warranted. These conversations can help the other person understand how their actions caused pain. And they may clear the air about long-held beliefs and feelings. Sometimes we may discover the pain we felt is simply our response to a circumstance. That there is really nothing to forgive. And that the painful response may be a signal to ourselves that we may have an area in our lives that needs the healing touch of the Lord.
So, Callan, if Mommy is reading this to you, I hope you know how sad I felt for disappointing you and messing up your game last week. And I hope you can forgive me. I love you so much and feel terrible that something I did, caused you to feel so sad.
Father, the truth is…we both experience and cause pain to others. Sometimes on purpose; many times, without even realizing it. Help us to be attentive to Your voice when you bring these circumstances to our attention. May we be quick to and quick to forgive.
Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ. (Ephesians 4:32 NCV)