With a cold expression on my face and my eyes fixed on the dishes, I washed them in silence. The message I wanted my husband to receive when he walked out of the bedroom was, “Leave me alone. Don’t come near me.”
The words he had hurled at me the evening before still stung. I could not focus on what I might have done to contribute to the fight, because my hurt consumed me. Although I wanted to obey God and forgive, I had let the sun go down on my anger. The best I could do was write one line in my journal before I went to sleep, “Lord, make me willing to forgive.”
Morning had come and I still felt unwilling; forgiveness now seemed an impossibility.
Steve avoided the kitchen and headed for the door, while Mindy, our three-year-old, shouted, “Daddy, let’s play.”
“I’ve got to go to work, Honey,” Steve said.
My kiss! My kiss!” Mindy bellowed and raced after him to give her good-bye kiss. Anytime Steve or I went anywhere she insisted on a kiss and a hug.
“A hug! A hug!” I could imagine her stretching her arms up and jumping up and down. Hurry, I thought as I waited expectantly for the door to close.
“What about Mommy?” Mindy asked. Why can’t children mind their own business? I wondered, hoping Steve would ignore her.
“You didn’t give her a kiss and a hug.” I didn’t remember Mindy ever noticing how we said good-bye to each other. Why today?
“I don’t think she wants one,” answered Steve.
Well, he was right about that. Now please leave. But Mindy could not let it rest. She raced into the kitchen with a shocked look on her face. “Mommy, do you want a kiss and a hug?”
Her eyes wide and filled with innocence looked up at me, seeing me not as a bundle of anger, but a dispenser of love. My heart was torn. I didn’t want to let go of my hurt, but neither did I want to cause her pain. How could I lie and say yes, when a kiss was the last thing I wanted?
In that moment between her question and my answer, it seemed God was asking, “Are you willing?” He was giving me the opportunity to take the first step toward restoring the peace in my relationship with Steve.
How unfair, though—I felt I was being forced into this. What a choice! If I disobeyed God and refused to be willing to forgive, I would hurt my daughter. God had backed me into a corner. Yet, wasn’t that what I had prayed for—“Lord, make me willing”?
“Yes,” I said to Mindy’s question and to God’s question, “Are you willing?”
Mindy ran out to get her dad, jubilant at proving him wrong. The joyful reconciler dragged him by the hand to the kitchen.
“Now give Mommy a kiss,” she instructed sweetly and gave a triumphant smile when he did so.
“Now a hug,” she urged. We hugged, and with that hug the wall of hurt within me began to melt.
Forgiveness no longer seemed an impossibility.
© 1988 Elaine Creasman
The article was first published in the August 1998 issue of Light and Life magazine