I grew up in a small town, actually several small towns and farms because my family moved a lot. Between the ages of about ten and fifteen we lived in a very small town with one grocery store a beer store, one public school and one catholic school.
Everyone knew everyone and my parents were not wrong in assuming that a town this small would be a safe place for our family. Well, as it turned out it wasn’t, our arrival seemed to encourage a group of teenagers to get together and pick on us. For no other reason than the fact that we were different from them in that we are Mennonite.
At first it was just a little name calling on the playground, which then turned into the occasional scuffle, which eventually evolved into a full fledged hate of who we were.
I got into fist fights with a few of the guys which we so cleverly called “The Gang” our house would get eggs thrown at it and not just on Halloween, any day they got their hands on a dozen or two, our house would get turned into a breakfast buffet. If they didn’t have eggs? no problem, raid someone’s garden or a nearby tomatoe field and throw them at the house, if the house wasn’t an easy enough target, just find one of the kids that live there and throw vegetables or eggs at them.
For the most part we endured it, mom got pretty good at hosing down the house on Saturday mornings and my siblings and I learned how to let things go. Then one night as my dad was getting ready to go do his nightshift he got attacked by three of the older thugs in the gang, they hit him from behind with a skateboard and a beer bottle which knocked him down. My dad was no weakling, he could have taken these three, at least I believe he could, but he showed great restraint when he didn’t hurt them. They were delivering blow after blow with their feet to his body on the ground and it didn’t end until my dad grabbed one of them by the shoulder with his hands (us kids called vise grips because he could really squeeze tight) and until a neighbor heard the commotion that the three of them took off.
So after that there was a restraining order against the main aggressor of the group and the others kind of toned it down. Eventually we moved away and everything is fine but I wanted to tell you that story because it took me a long time to forgive the gang for everything they did to us.
For many years I wished that they got what was coming to them, I wanted them to feel the same way we felt when they bullied us. I secretly wished I could go back to that town vigilante style and take them out, of course those things never happened and I have no idea what or how they are doing today.
So it came down to the fact that I could carry this hate I had for them with me for the rest of my life or, I could forgive them and move on.
So that’s what I did, I forgave them. Not face to face or anything but I said a prayer and let Jesus take it from there. I realized then that those who hurt us are people who have also been hurt. My pastor has a saying “hurt people, hurt people” and it’s very true. We all have people in our lives who have been hurt by someone else and then carry that hurt to us and use it to hurt us, and we can either let that hurt in and hurt someone else or we can forgive and hope that the healing process will begin.
I took pleasure in the fact that since much of the gang weren’t Christians they would be going to hell, I wanted them to go. After Jesus saved me I realized how much hate I was carrying for them, when I forgave them I learned that the only thing keeping me out of hell was Jesus and I wanted the gang to know Jesus as well.
At first I wanted them to have to pay for their sins while I didn’t want to pay for my own. Jesus took care of their sins and mine, the only difference was that I knew it, they didn’t.
We Christians do that a lot don’t we? We know we have Jesus and when we meet someone who hates us we take pleasure in the fact that we are saved and they aren’t. What do we do then with other Christians who we don’t get along with? I mean their sins have paid for and so have ours, does that mean we have to share heaven with them when we get there?
What about the person that accepted Jesus after they hurt us? If we continue to carry that bitterness for them we will eventually run into them in heaven and then what? We haven’t forgiven them but here they are, right where we thought we’d never have to deal with them again.
I hear Christians say, and I have as well, karma is gonna get them, and we hope for it. We hope they get what they deserve.
Truth is, without Jesus we all get what we deserve, but with Jesus we get what we don’t deserve and that’s a place at His table where the love never ends, the peace is everlasting and happiness is the only emotion. No pain, no hurt, no suffering and it’s not because we earned it or deserved it but because we accepted the One who got what He didn’t deserve and that’s the death on the cross.
So I think we should stop expecting people to pay for their sins when we haven’t paid for our own, Jesus took care of it and the only difference between a Christian and anyone else is that Jesus used someone to help us find Him, and now it’s our turn to let Jesus help us find someone else who needs Him.
My point? I didn’t pay for my sins, Jesus did and now I don’t have to worry about getting what I deserve because I’m getting what I don’t deserve, Jesus.
So I’m not gonna expect others to pay for their sins either, all they have to do is accept Jesus and He will take care of it.
Thank you so much for reading, please share this so others can learn that Jesus has got them covered as well.