Friday, July 22, 2016

When Forgiveness is Your Best Option

They showed up at my house . . . two high school students, heads hung low, contrite, with a check in their hands. Kids are stupid. The bible tells us to root out the foolishness of the child, and we try, but it's proverbial wisdom and there are no guarantees.

We awoke to a loud knocking at our front door at 3:00 a.m on a Saturday morning. The officer explained that some kids were going around neighborhoods vandalizing, and that we were the victims of one such attack. They had ripped our neighbor's mailbox off its post and threw it through our son's back windshield, shattering it to pieces. The officer said they were in pursuit.

A week later we finally heard that the "kids" had been arrested and wanted to come see us and make restitution in the hopes that we wouldn't press charges.

I can't tell you how violated I felt that someone would cross into our lives and cause such destruction, all because they were drunk and foolish. I felt like I was just holding my breath waiting to hear if this was indeed a random act or something more. I'm relieved that it was random, but I was angry at their foolishness.

We had two teenage boys the same age as these vandals. Could my kids be that stupid too? Could they look like nice, normal, "good" kids on the outside, and then do something mean, illegal, and bad the next moment?

I've learned that we are all just one step away from making a stupid decision that could ruin everything. No one is "good enough" never to fall. Myself included.

I really wanted to press charges. I wanted them to be punished. I wanted retribution. I wanted certainty that they were really sorry. Somehow I thought it would make me feel safer knowing they were punished. But what if this is the thing that turns them around, for better or for worse? It was a first time offense. After my husband talked me down off the ledge, I chose to forgive them.

It turns out that I wasn't even home when they came over to apologize and pay us for the windshield. As a high school teacher I just wanted to shake them and tell them to wake up to the rest of their lives. But I didn't get the chance. Maybe that was the way it should be.

It was just a windshield - a thing. No life was lost. No one got hurt. I know that isn't always true. Drunk drivers kill every day. Life is snatched. Forgiveness, although precious, isn't always easy to find.

Sometimes forgiveness is your best option, even if it's not your only one.

Go and do likewise. . .(Luke 10:37)