Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Dear Temple,
I hope this note finds you well and happy. In stewing over hurting someones feelings yesterday, I've come to the realization that two events seem to coincide in my life. I don't believe in omen's or anything like that, it just occurred to me while brooding and I would like to share.
I would like to talk to you about seeking forgiveness and roadkill.
I'm not speaking about asking forgiveness of an animal after running it them. I really don't see myself asking Mr. Kibbles' mangled animal body for forgiveness. I talking about two separate events. More specifically, I'm talking about seeking forgiveness and not receiving it. These types of events tend to stick out in your mind.
A couple days ago I ran over a cat. We have a couple strays around here. We live in an area that has an older population, several of which leave out bowls of food and water for the cats. When we moved into our home back in 2006 we found two old bowls of moldy cat food under the porch. For awhile a grey cat would stop by and mew at the front door. That explained how our dog got fleas.
Anyway I hit one of those little buggers when I turned out of our alley. I didn't mean too. It ran out in front of my car. I couldn't stop in time and there was nowhere to swerve. Dead cat. It wasn't the grey one. It was the one I affectionately referred to as 'that orange one.' Since then I have hurt someones feelings, inadvertently, and have yet to be forgiven.
There was another time back in high school where I was camping with my friend Brian. We were driving at night out to our campsite in the Wisconsin nowhere. We were on a small two lane highway and all of a sudden out of the darkness came a flash of several eyes reflecting white from my headlights. Then came a series of several bumps.
The next day Brian and I saw the wreckage. It seemed that a large group of Raccoons were crossing the highway at the same time we were passing through. It was pretty gross. That same day we went to a state park that I was very fond of since my Uncle used to take me there camping as a kid. Since we weren't spending the night, I didn't think I needed to check-in at the state park office. I was wrong. We drove in, parked the car and spent some time hiking the park trails. When we went back to the car, there was a park employee there writing a ticket. I explained myself, apologized and asked for forgiveness. She told me it was okay. She took my license to copy and a small daily park fee. She tore up the ticket and told us to enjoy our day. We went back to exploring the park.
When we returned there was a state trooper parked next to our car. It turned out that she didn't really forgive us at all. She just went back to her office and called the police. He wrote me a ticket that was double what she had written. He didn't believe my explanation and laughed at my apology. Before he left he pointed at the Christian symbol I had on the back of my car.
"I don't see how you can have this on your car," he said. "You can't claim you're a Christian when you act like you do."
Maybe my next novel should be called "Roadkill and the Unforgiven." Maybe not.
Once I hit a bird on the highway. It just kind of flew into my grill and bounced upwards and over my car. Physics being what they are, the bird seemed to suspend in the air for a moment before I lost sight of it. The day before that I told a girl that I would be with her forever. That forever lasted about 21 hours. An old girlfriend that had broken up with me a few months ago came back and wanted to get back together. You would know her as your Aunt Crystal.
The other girl. She has yet to forgive me and I don't think she ever will. The next time my car runs over a creature great or small, I will have to really watch my behavior.
Forgiveness, Temple, is an opportunity to practice God in small. Don't get me wrong - All the responsibility isn't on the forgiver. The one seeking forgiveness needs to be repentant. Meaning there is a marked attempt at a change in behavior. If someone seeks forgiveness, but doesn't change. They really aren't looking for forgiveness - they are looking for blanket acceptance. Even if that means at your expense.
Anyway, I'm sure you can think of a few times where people didn't forgive you when you asked for it. There's really not much you can do about that. It hurts - it's also a good lesson for when you have the opportunity to forgive. When someone doesn't forgive you, it feels like your sin sticks to you. There is a part of you that is unable to move on since the other person is unwilling to provide closure. They are telling you that your relationship isn't worth repairing. They are holding a something, even a mistake, against you and will not drop it. Ever. You tend to remember those times more than the times you received mercy. Funny how that works.
I feel very thankful that God isn't like that. God doesn't hold anything against you. If you seek forgiveness you'll find it every time. No matter what. He even paid for your sins himself. Makes you feel pretty worthwhile, at least it does for me.
I would also like to add that forgiveness is an action - not a feeling. You can forgive even though you are still working through pain. Forgiving a person doesn't mean they are automatically your best friend. Forgiving a person doesn't make the ramifications of what they did go away. I've said, "I forgive you" through clenched teeth a couple times and it still counted. I'm sure I'll feel better after a couple days in good company and enjoyment of the holiday.
I will see you tomorrow.
I love you much and miss you always,
                     Uncle Justin

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