Secrets and Stolen Glances and Forgiving You

rsz_img_5449 They said I should forgive you;  their reasons were vast enough to fill the space of an ocean.

But no matter the reason, the advice always ended the same: so I could get over it, so I could move on with my life, as if somehow you were holding me back.

They did not understand. This was my life. There was no getting over it. There was only walking forward. Life is like that when you bury children.

It was suggested that I do it publicly. On the news. In front of strangers. With an audience. At Christmas time even. But I was wise enough to know the people watching would only ever see two things: me and you, a victim and a villain. I could not bear nor justify either view of us.

To be exalted and sacrificial, those are the honors and duties of the Father and the Son; villainy the work of the devil. That was not for either of us, and most can not understand it in just that way. But I believe, maybe, you can.

rsz_img_2507I knew different: You were just a guy, a husband, driving to work and I was just a mom and wife anxious to get home to housework. Both of us, I imagine, longing to spend this perfect summer day doing anything but the drudgery with which we were faced.

Then the unthinkable happened in northern Virginia. Traffic stopped. Halting our crammed in too short of time daily duties and robbing us our playtime and daydreams. Imagine that.

Me sitting there, irritated thinking it unfinished roadwork from the day before, trying to amuse a two year old with peek-a-boo in a rear-view mirror, baby dancing on my bladder, trying not to pee on myself, mentally urging traffic forward with one raised indignant eyebrow and a pounding heart in between peeks and boos, wondering what must be sacrificed on my to do list to make up for this five minute delay.

You rushing to your job,  being diligent to arrive on time, at the right place, checking the directions, the map, stealing a glance.

Both multitasking. Both unaware the next moment would forever mark our lives in unimaginable and unpredictable ways.

Me looking up for blue eyes in a mirror seeing your white truck instead. Have you, too, found it strange the things remembered in a tragic moment? The things eyes and brain record. Blink of an eye seconds branded in agonizingly slow motion speed.

IMG_0396I wonder what you remember. I pray memories don’t haunt your slumbering hours. Yet, I believe in truth and facing it head on and I know there are times when neither of us sleeps and I wonder if it is on the same night that the devil fiddles a tune for our ears to hear, to muddle our thoughts, gripping us with paralyzing fear, the uncertainty of what ifs.

I pray for you. Quite often still. Over almost a decade, I have lost count of the times, of the whys. I have prayed for your wife, your marriage, your future children, your day to be covered in peace with Jesus at your side, for you not to feel guilty.

And that forgiveness thing? It does not get broached. What am I to forgive exactly? Am I to forgive a stolen glance that bore no ill intent? We were two people going about our day and God allowed an intersection for His divine purposes.

rsz_1img_2500Let me tell you something. You did nothing that day I have not done a thousand and nine times before or since.  You would think now I would know better, understand the cost of a stolen glance. You would think I would be diligent about distractions. I live in a place where the road winds narrow in sharp curves and sudden steep hills. Steal a glance and find the downward slope of the mountain or the cold waters of the river. But my secret is this: I have swerved countless times across the yellow line, my tires have skidded at the edge of the road spilling gravel downward into the trees, settling to the bottom of a river bed, water rushing along its way. All because a deer grazes or a black bear ambles or the sunlight hits the trees painting them golden at just that perfect moment.  All because I get distracted and steal a glance.

rsz_img_2888The reality is to look you in the eyes and say those words, “I forgive you” feels arrogant. Some said you needed to hear those words, needed to hear me speak them.  And all  I can say is, if you do, that is what Jesus is for. He is the only one who can fill that space. Because you see, it is not about us. It is only and ever will be about Him. My words will not erase that space because it is a space to be filled, with His love, not my forgiveness.

This is the path God laid at our feet and the only choice we have is to follow Jesus down it. Or not. We do not get to choose what is on the path. We do not get to choose the miracles or the gifts or the hard things He asks of us. We only get to choose our steps.  The only steps I am willing to make are the ones that follow Him, the ones that bring Him glory, the ones that shine His love through these cracked and broken places that make up who I am.

Forgiving you says God is not sovereign. Forgiving you says I only accept it because I must. Forgiving you says I did not make a choice to follow Jesus when He beckoned, “come follow me.” And the beckoning happened long before our shared moment. I had a choice after this divine encounter where our paths crossed. I could have chosen anger and resentment and hatred. I could have chosen to walk the other way, turn my back to God, to His perfect abiding love.

IMG_3039After all, He gave me free will, and the ability to change my mind.

But in doing that, I would have made you at fault as if you had made a heinous choice to destroy. In doing that I would have dangled forgiveness an inch before your face for which you could have never paid enough penance, and I would have stolen away the truth of God and His sovereign grace over all that was, and is and is to be.

And that is the devil’s work of which I will take no part.

So instead, I will say this: I love you. As I love my younger brother. I love you with the love of Christ. I love you enough to pray for you and pray goodness into your life. I love you enough to tell you the only thing worthy of distraction is focusing on Jesus. And I pray He distracts you often with great wonder.

And I will ask your forgiveness, for not telling you these things long ago. You deserved to hear them, not because of who and what we are to each other, but because of who Jesus needs to be to us both.

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6 Responses to “Secrets and Stolen Glances and Forgiving You”

  1. Patricia Stachew says:

    How beautifully stated…blessed is the one who would receive this wisdom to know that Jesus is in every moment from eternity past…that the heart broken would be made whole in Him…

  2. Marye says:

    This is so beautiful Elizabeth… your pen is writing the words of your heart and your voice together.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I love Jesus and He is filling my heart with an overflowing love and words spilling are merely a result of His abundant and uncontainable love…..

  3. Ann says:

    John 15:12
    This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.
    Words from your heart to this young man, showing God’s unconditional love. I pray that this young man will see this and also see God’s love through it.

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