I really loved my grandmother. She taught me how to sew, kept a quiet and well-ordered house, cooked terrific baked chicken, and was a wonderful hostess at her many dinner parties.
Grandmommy didn’t talk very much about herself. Being raised on a farm in an era of “just suck it up and keep going,” she rarely complained and managed to keep a pleasant exterior even when rheumatoid arthritis began to contort her joints.
There was one story, however, that Grandmommy liked to repeat. She’d been hurt and betrayed by a college girl friend. The story of the friend’s betrayal was told year after year, usually when Grandmommy was getting ready to host her women’s group at her house. The friend was part of the same group and was sure to be in attendance. I’m sure, as Grandmommy readied the house for the party, she thought about all the women, particularly the friend who had hurt her….50 or 60 years ago.
When I got older, it occurred to me that Grandmommy obviously had never discussed this hurt with her friend. Perhaps she thought it was more polite not to mention the hurt, put on a sweet expression, and keep her wound buried deep.
As time passed, I also noticed other “hurts” that my grandmother reminisced about. Tiny things that we grandchildren had said or done when we weren’t old enough to know better. Although, as adults, we apologized, she’d bring the matter up again months later.
My grandmother, although a fine woman, had a hard time forgiving. And as I grew to adulthood it made me sad, because this fault diminished her in my eyes. It made her look small in character.
Sometimes these characteristics are inherited. Sometimes, they’re learned.
I think I inherited my grandmother’s flaw and have struggled through the years to forgive people who’ve wronged me.
One day I listened to a sermon on TV. The topic was about forgiveness. The preacher said, when you can’t forgive, you become “small” and being small in character limits you. Your “smallness” makes you unpleasant to be around, limits your opportunities for God to use you.
Have you ever noticed that people who have an ax to grind are seldom people that you want to be close to?
How can a person like that get close enough to other people to be a blessing? And if that person can’t forgive, isn’t it possible that you will offend him some day and become another object of his ire?
Small people are:
- tuned and turned inward
- immature in their faith
- not very useful in God’s Kingdom
- not pleasant to be around
- they wound because they themselves are wounded
I’ll bet we all know people who fit these descriptions. It horrifies me that I could be one of them. “Oh, Lord, please open my eyes to see my smallness, to forgive, to love again, to look outward and focus on You and how I can be a conduit of Your grace toward others.”
I want to be “big.” A big person doesn’t take things personally. A big person has the courage to confront the one who has wronged him. A big person forgives and gets on with business. A big person doesn’t want to be hampered in his or her work in the Kingdom by nagging wounds.
A big person is often commended by others—because he or she is so unusual!—and invited to take part in greater areas of responsibility within the church or in other avenues.
A big person is not miserly, but generous in doling out praise for others, kind and encouraging words, prayers for the same people who have hurt her, actions that prove God is working through her.
It’s funny. We tend to think of BIG people as dangerous. But in reality, it’s the “small” people who wield the biggest instruments of hurt.
Do you want to be small or big?
another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Col. 3:13 NIV Bible)