Friday, February 23, 2007

forgiving and forbearing... and not forgetting

I've lost count of the words that have come out of my mouth -- and my typing fingers too -- that I now deeply regret saying and writing. My most recent post is one of them.

While it seemed to me a few nights ago that I had victoriously realized some important spiritual truth, I was deeply mistaken in what I wrote. But don't get me wrong -- it was important -- God does command us to forgive and forbear the sins of others. But it wasn't I who was in the right place to forgive or forbear. It was my parents. And God. And that wasn't right.

By describing them in such a caricatured humor-inducing way, I was, unwittingly, putting my parents in a bad light. Yes, my father does "imperiously command me" to do stuff I don't want to do occasionally. But that is not all he is. He isn't Hitler. During those cold rainy nights when the power was out due to some typhoon, he was there to enclose me in his warm arms, when I would squeak in my tiny voice, "Pa, natakot tabi ako, kupu tabi." Kupu is "hug" and tabi is "please" in Oasnon.

Ma and Pa, I'm sorry. I've taken for granted everything what you've done for me -- the buckets of sweat and tears you've shed to raise me into who I am right now. I am an ungrateful hypocrite -- blind to my own shortcomings, yet oversensitive to those of who care for me. Now I realize how kind and loving you were in to me spite of all the unspoken rebellious thoughts I've held against you. I love you so much. Please forgive me, and please let this be one of those cow pies that will be thrown into our compost pile.

And God, most of all, I'm sorry. I have not honored my parents as You have commanded me. And if I would bear a grudge against my own parents for mere trifles, how much more against You, my Father and Creator? And bear a grudge I did, especially when you uprooted me from UP against my will. Please forgive me.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Psalm 51:1-3

February 19, 2007
8:20 pm

An hour ago I was wearing an enormous snout-like frown on my face. I was exhausted, nauseated, sleepy and really annoyed.

I was doing the dishes. My head was buried in a sizeable pile of greasy cups and dishes, each of which I was vigorously scrubbing, one by one. And while I was being smothered by a mountain of soap-grease lather, my mother and father were watching a Filipino movie on the computer. They were snorting out loud, tickled pink by Babalu and Dolphy's acerbic witticisms.

Intrigued by what I was hearing, I rinsed my hands and went to the living room for a tiny peek. And then, even before my gaze reached the LCD screen, in an almost instantaneous change of demeanor, my father imperiously commanded me, as though I were his slave, "Tapusin mo nga muna yang ginagawa mo." Heck, I was just taking a break for a few seconds! How could they be so... Ewan.

That really topped my day. I'd spent the last three nights in mindless stupor as I ransacked my mental word-bank for all the ideas I could get for my essay. And tonight I still have to study a whole chapter for the physical assessment checkoffs tomorrow. Oh, I just wanted to pull whatever remained of my hair off my head -- I'm sporting a crew cut right now -- and scream at my parents and the world and scream some more.

Then I checked my mailbox. I had a new message. It was the most recent sermon from Desiring God, and by an ironic twist of providence, it was entitled, "Forgiving and Forbearing." Those mere two words pierced my wicked heart like a juicy olive on a toothpick. Here I was, seething and frowning and grumbling like hell at my parents, who nursed me and fed my tiny brown mouth eighteen years ago, because of something as small as that. And yet, the God of the Universe, who had every right to squash me under His heels like an ant because of my rebellion against my parents and Him, was supplying me with oxygen and ATP. What incomprehensible mercy!

So I read. The following paragraphs, which are Dr. Piper's last words, really struck me. Although his sermon was mainly about the significance of marriage in our relationship with God, his message could apply to almost any other human relationship. Forgive and forbear, just as the Lord Jesus did.
Picture your marriage [or friendship, son/brother-ship for that matter] as a grassy field... You see beautiful flowers and trees and rolling hills. But before long, you begin to step in cow pies. Some seasons of your marriage they may seem to be everywhere. Late at night they are especially prevalent. These are the sins and flaws and idiosyncrasies and weaknesses and annoying habits in you and your spouse. You try to forgive them and endure them with grace.

But they have a way of dominating the relationship. It may not even be true, but it feels like that’s all there is—cow pies. I think the combination of forbearance and forgiveness leads to the creation of a compost pile. And here you begin to shovel the cow pies. You both look at each other and simply admit that there are a lot of cow pies. But you say to each other: You know, there is more to this relationship than cow pies. And we are losing sight of that because we keep focusing on these cow pies. Let’s throw them all in the compost pile. When we have to, we will go there and smell it and feel bad and deal with it the best we can. And then, we are going to walk away from that pile and set our eyes on the rest of field. We will pick some favorite paths and hills that we know are not strewn with cow pies. And we will be thankful for the part of field that is sweet.

Our hands may be dirty. And our backs make ache from all the shoveling. But one thing we know: We will not pitch our tent by the compost pile. We will only go there when we must. This is the gift of grace that we will give each other again and again and again—because we are chosen and holy and loved.


Lance said...

ang ganda, Jef. Certified John Piper fan ka talaga.

merilion said...

this is something we all need to be reminded of. thank you for blessing others by sharing what God has taught you. =)