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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Tis the Season...To Forgive

by Tom Pappas

I woke up the morning of 12-12-12 to the sound of a smoke detector. Maybe the numerologists and Mayans were on to something.  Upon further review, the sound turned out to be a nose-whistle leak in my CPAP mask. Disaster averted.

Are you able to laugh at yourself?  It’s fun for me when I get to tell the story and it doesn’t upset the irrational standards I set for myself.  I think this nose-whistle event is a hoot; it doesn’t bother me.

There are about 5 stories from my past that I never laugh at and when I relive them in my brain I physically cringe.

One is from college days and I relay it because this week while driving, something jogged my memory and I went back there. Body cringe and audible groan included.

I am a good sign maker and a member of the local business community – insurance man - asked me to paint the sign on the glass door of his office. I nailed the graphics perfectly. From a distance his door was a thing of beauty. Up close it was obvious I didn’t know what I was doing. The wrong paint on a glass surface made each letter a 3-D nightmare of dabs and ridges. Each time I picture it I wonder how many times my friend rolled his eyes.

A few years later I was working for a non-profit Christian organization and got to share the ministry with a lunch meeting of Kiwanis. It took slides of camp. Lots of them.  My still vivid image of that room of very polite Kiwanis shifting in their seats at 1:30 indicated they were not nearly as excited about camp as I was. It didn’t pan out as a fundraising opener. Cringe and groan.

I spent every Wednesday evening for 14 years with a wonderful team of believers doing prison ministry. One salient comment many men would say was, “I know God forgives me of my crime, but I can’t forgive myself.”

What is it about my (our) nature that enables us to make standards more strict than the God of forgiveness? I will likely end my life without ever being incarcerated, but I am nonetheless emotionally imprisoned by these haunting faux pas (Is there a plural? Search indicates there is none.). I have always believed Christ’s visit to our planet has something to say about that. 

Join me this season remembering to forgive: others and especially our self.

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