The paper crinkled as Sandy unwrapped the package she’d had her friend send. She smiled at the beautiful coral streaks shooting from the heart of the creamy clam-shaped seashell. She unfurled brown paper from the tiny vial of sand granules. With a skip in her step, she headed off to work.
Sandy saw her boss walking toward the break room. She tip-toed into his office and carefully laid out the shell, the small bottle of sand, and a card. The words inscribed said, “Please accept this small token as my commitment never to make the same mistake again. We both know I’m not perfect, but I vow to do my best. May these symbols remind you of my sincere sorrow for the money, time, and energy I cost you.”
An hour later, immersed in her work, Sandy didn’t hear the footsteps approaching her desk. “You didn’t need to give me anything.”
Startled, she looked up, “I wanted you to have reminders of my regret.”
“We’ve been over this. All is forgiven. As a matter of fact, I’m forgiving the financial debt too.”
Sandy blanched, “Sir, I didn’t give you the shell and sand so you would…”
“Shhh. If I thought you had, I wouldn’t do this. Just accept my appreciation for your integrity.”
Sandy’s thoughts wrestled against each other. Her boss didn’t know she almost disregarded his directive. He had no idea she planned to pretend she’d forgotten to follow through. And now he wanted to reward her. She felt like a heel, knowing she didn’t deserve his grace.
He patted her on the shoulder and turned to leave.
“Wait. Stop.” Sandy wasn’t sure why she opened her mouth.
He faced her with an unspoken question.
A clammy film skirted Sandy’s lip. Should she debate his mercy, or accept mercy. It all came down to one question. Could Sandy forgive herself?
She ran the fingers on her right hand through her hair, “Thank you. I appreciate your offer, and gratefully accept. I won’t forget it.”
“It’s my pleasure, and thank you for your honesty.”
One of the most difficult challenges many of us face is forgiveness. But often, the hardest person to forgive is me. We know the dark secrets that hide behind our smiling faces and proper behaviors.
Even when we make the right choice in the end, we must slay monstrous temptations before we get there. And that battle convinces us we must be horrible. If we’re focused on the poor choice we almost made, we can’t accept and demonstrate grace with others for good outcomes.
The A in Teshuvah represents our need to accept forgiveness. But we can’t accept from others what we won’t give ourselves. If God says He forgives us, then who are we to say we know better, and shouldn’t be shown mercy?
Freedom from condemnation is a gift — don’t be afraid to open it.
A new day dawns when you practice honesty and acceptance with others and yourself. Tomorrow, we’ll take our final look at Teshuvah, and how it can help us make a big difference in the world around us.
Do you struggle with forgiving yourself? When someone offers you mercy, do you accept with grace?
Hebrews 8:12 (NIV)
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.
Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Expert, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, speaker, and writer. She lives in Missouri.
Contact her via www.freshstartfreshfaith.org or firstname.lastname@example.org