One busy Friday afternoon, a former employee stopped in to visit. She had previously abandoned our firm during a busy week, leaving the burden of her responsibilities to me and the rest of the employees. There were hard feelings. The time invested in training her had gone to waste. I felt annoyed and betrayed as she stood in my doorway.
Crew members were watching to see how I would react and deal with her. If I devoted time her way, other employees would have to cover my responsibilities. I prayed silently that she would leave but she did not. So I led her back to my office and asked what she wanted.
She said that as a believer she knew she had done the wrong thing by quitting and that she had come to apologize. My heart softened! She then asked if I would pray with her – the real reason for her visit. Her fifteen-year-old daughter was pregnant and the baby’s father was treating her harshly. In addition, this woman’s own husband was not supporting her, causing more hard feelings. She was overwhelmed by anger and unforgiveness towards everyone involved.
I asked her to share about the young man in a relationship with her daughter. She explained that he had been on his own since age ten. Though his heart was kind, he was also quick to anger. I suggested that perhaps God wanted her to train, guide and nurture him so that he could learn how to be a husband, a father and a man.
She replied, “How can I do that if I cannot stand him?” I explained that Christ would give her courage. “You want me to forgive him? I won’t do it,” she insisted.
I shared with her some wisdom my father had passed on to me when I told him I had been born again in Christ. My father had said, “Being humble is a great virtue, but to be truly repentant is to be humiliated for Christ’s sake.” Holding her hands, I encouraged her to recognize that holding onto anger and unforgiveness was a sin. I reminded her that, as a believer, she had an obligation to put her faith into action. After praying together, she was on her way.
Early the following Monday, she returned to my business with her husband, their daughter, and the young man. After a short greeting, she excitedly told me what had happened after we had prayed together that day. She had gone home and suddenly remembered a time I had offended a woman and had gotten down on my knees to ask forgiveness. That memory, she said, had given her the courage she needed.
She then turned to her daughter, asking for her forgiveness. Though surprised, the girl embraced her mother as they both sobbed. The mother immediately felt a new surge of affection for her daughter and the unborn baby. She turned and, seeing her husband in tears, sought his forgiveness also. Finally, she approached the young man. Kneeling before him, she asked him to forgive her as well. The youth fell to his knees in front of her, tears streaming down his cheeks, and begged her to forgive him.
I praise God for allowing me to play a part in this family’s powerful story of forgiveness.
Joe Blanco is a member of the Mesa Men’s Chapter in Arizona. He and his wife, Angelique, reside in Chandler, Arizona, where Joe is the owner of Catalina Cleaners. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.