Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Write the Forgiveness Cheque - Kathleen Gibson

I like my cat, Grace. A lot. But our previously untested relationship hit the wall a few months ago, starting the evening I brought home an overnight guest. A grey puffball of a kitten with round green eyes.

“Now, Smoky,” I told her. “Don’t get comfortable. Tomorrow you’re going to live on the next block.”

As I carried the newcomer into my office, His Grace hovered nearby, sniffing. Suddenly, his fur pointed ceiling-ward and he began growling like a dog. Then came hisses and darting paw strikes, razor sharp claws outstretched. His theatrics convinced me that in his mind, I had delivered the penultimate betrayal of our relationship.

Picking up the petrified Smoky, I pushed my own cat from the room and slammed the door. For an hour we sat in my green prayer chair, getting over it while Grace paced the hall, still growling. Finally the Preacher took pity on us all and banished him to the basement.

Smoky went to live with the Beans the next day, but Grace Cat nurtured a grudge against me for days, maybe even a week. He didn’t mind the Preacher, but me? Oh, no. He had seen me carry in the kitten. In his mind, I had violated the terms of our relationship, and he couldn’t get past it.

For my part, I barely recognized the previously friendly pet I thought I knew so well. His tiger stripes run deeper than his fur, I learned. Whenever I neared him, he slapped my feet, clawed my legs, attacked my hands. When I made the mistake of trying to cuddle him, he bit my cheek.

“I can’t live with a cat that hates me,” I told the Preacher. “Off to the farm with you,” I told Grace. More than once.

But I decided instead to get some advice from online cat-experts and to follow it. I spent extra time with my tiger. Enticed him to twice-daily play periods, using his favourite toys and treats. Talked to him frequently. Didn’t try to pet him or pick him up unless he approached me.

It took awhile, but eventually the old Grace Cat emerged from his angry, betrayed place – energetic, playful and affectionate – with only his usual touch of spice. He trusts me again, and I have forgiven him for the injuries. We’re at peace once more.

Every relationship carries the potential for nasty surprises. Most benefit from seeking and following wise counsel. But surviving a betrayal takes the most essential element of all – total forgiveness.

In a prayer seminar I attended, the leader, Dr. T.V. Thomas, made a statement that impacted me deeply. He said that he keeps in his heart a signed cheque made out for total forgiveness. No matter the injury, no matter the perpetrator. Why? Because Jesus himself said that until we forgive others, God can’t forgive us. (Matthew 18:35)

Who do you need to forgive? Got a name? Write the cheque.


Kathleen Gibson writes about the connection between everyday life and faith in her weekly newspaper column, Sunny Side Up, among other places. Find her on her website, or ask Mr. Google.
Write the Forgiveness Cheque was published earlier this year on Kathleen's website and in newspapers running Sunny Side Up.


David Kitz said...

Excellent insight, excellent application, excellent writing! Kathleen, I especially liked the sentence, "His tiger stripes run deeper than his fur, I learned." Well done!

fudge4ever said...

Loved this, Kathleen. I like the blank cheque idea!
Pam Mytroen

Peter Black said...

Heh! Heh! Thanks Kathleen. Your experience here indicates how like humans some creatures really are (or should the similarity be expressed the other way round?).

Well done indeed, and I also agree that the blank cheque is a really good approach. ~~+~~

Kathleen Gibson said...

Glad you enjoyed this, friends. Thanks for your kind words.
Yes...the blank cheque was the one thing that stuck from that prayer seminar. They always say that if you go home with "one thing" your day was worthwhile, right?

Glynis said...

I find it funny that your tiger's name is Grace. Thank goodness God's grace is far more than just a name or a cover for our sin - it is LOVE at its best. Love your every day connections. Off to write my cheque!

Kathleen Gibson said...

Hi Glynis. Thanks for your insightful comment. Yes,Grace's name is a bit strange for a male cat. Here's the history of that:

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