Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Let me back up a bit. It was just about 19 years ago when my husband, Jim, was suspended from his middle school teaching job in the midst of untrue accusations that he made inappropriate comments in his classroom. We were naive and thought because he had done nothing wrong the misunderstanding would be quickly remedied, but that didn't happen.
Though the accusing students were found not to be credible witnesses (and thus never even called to testify later at an arbitration hearing) the superintendent pursued the case. In the midst of months of hearings and delays in the case, however, the superintendent retired.
After an expensive year-long legal battle Jim won his case on all points and continued to teach for another ten years. God, as only He can, brought good out of a difficult time in our lives.
Still, over the years we've struggled with forgiving several of the players in this battle--especially the superintendent.
Fast forward to two weeks ago when I received an e-mail at school about a reception being held today as a send-off for the former superintendent and his wife who are moving out of town.
I forwarded the message to my husband with the subject line "an opportunity".
This would undoubtedly be a last chance to talk with this man.
As of this morning Jim wasn't sure about going. He said he didn't want his words to be hollow. So he did something very wise; he texted two of our pastors and asked them to pray.
I was praying, too.
After a long work day we both got ready and headed out--still unsure of how this would go.
My husband exchanged light conversation with a few of the other folks there until, finally, we were face to face with the former superintendent.
He was pleasant and friendly for a few moments of conversation, then Jim explained that he "wanted to make peace with him."
Over the years my husband has amazed me many times but never more than today as I listened to him say to this man, "I've hated you and I want to ask you to forgive me."
"I've already forgiven you," came the reply from the superintendent.
I realized, then, that being able to forgive may hinge on admitting my own need for forgiveness. No wonder Jesus taught us to pray, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
At it's heart, I believe forgiveness is divine and can only be extended or received by God's grace.
And, praise God, His grace was certainly flowing today.
Posted by Kathy Schriefer at 6:59 PM