Forgiving again…

The last time I wrote here—a little over a week ago, I said these words: Paul Buckman? I may have to wrestle with this over and over again, but today, I forgive you.

I wonder how many who read this the first time around caught the word today.

I.

We like to think forgiveness means forgetting. And often it should. A slight or slur forgiven four years earlier ought to soon become something of little consequence and certainly not an event or circumstance to be trotted back out again and again.

In the great biblical chapter of love (1 Corinthians 13, NIV), Paul says love… keeps no record of wrongs.
And in that sense, forgiveness, love, and forgetfulness all become intertwined.

Forgiving Paul Buckman can never mean forgetting.
There is no way short of a full frontal lobotomy to ever forget the events of October 10, 2011.
Not on this side of eternity.
And maybe not ever.

From my perspective, heaven’s promise to wipe away all tears does not mean all past heartaches will be forgotten. However, I believe it does mean the sting, pain, and hurt will all be taken away.

So, as I said before, forgiving Paul Buckman can never mean forgetting.
The consequences, fall out, and ripple effects are ever before us.
There are empty places at the table.
There are tears for the missing.
There are hurts at key moments and significant events with the absence of those who have gone on before.

Indeed, every time a little seven year old boy says, I miss my mom, there is no way to forget.

Forgiveness does not always mean forgetting.
Somethings just cannot be done.

So what then?
How do you forgive that which utterly destroys?
How do you forgive an obscenity that most cannot even imagine?
How do you forgive a nightmare scenario that becomes reality?
How do you forgive a life altering event that cannot possibly be forgotten?

How?

And maybe that is your question too.
Maybe you have never and will never experience anything like our family tragedy.
Maybe.

But maybe just maybe you still know the pain of unfairness.
Maybe you have known what it felt like to be treated unkindly and condescendingly.
Maybe you have experienced insult and slander.
Maybe you have experienced harsh attitudes and harsher actions from someone who was supposed to love you.

Maybe.

What then?
How do you forgive when you cannot forget.

Letting something go is a cliched concept that is easier said than done.

Instead, the key for me is today.

Paul Buckman? I may have to wrestle with this over and over again, but today, I forgive you.
Today, I choose forgiveness instead of bitterness.
Today, I choose peace and tranquility.
Today, I choose life instead of the despair of anger and rage.
Today, I choose to live.

I cannot ever forget the horror that invaded our lives.
But I can choose to live a life of love.

Once more, the Apostle Paul says, love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I choose love with the hope and perseverance it brings.

Today, I choose to forgive.
I choose to live.
I choose love.

How about you? What will you choose?

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Living on Salsa Time

Diets.
I hate being on a diet.

I would like to wish for those days long ago when my metabolism was high and I could eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.

Except the gene pool left that metabolism thing out. I have never been that person, at least that I can remember.

At this point in life, I gain at least five pounds every time I go on Facebook and see the pictures of whatever my friend Ricky Grau has posted for a meal.

It’s once again cardio time. Lots of running, walking, biking—whatever the weather will permit. Along with plenty of table push backs and healthier eating.

I don’t want to do it, but do it I must.

Unfortunately, this round of dieting and trying to get control of my eating must include a complete withdrawal from my favorite drug of choice: Chips & Salsa.

Chips & Salsa.
Oh, the glory and beauty of golden yellow chips and rich red salsa. Preferably the hotter the better.

Nothing makes a bad day or a stressful time better than a big bag of tortilla chips and some good salsa.

As much as I like it, I am not a salsa snob. I have had all kinds, all brands from ultra cheap to the best you can find. One of my favorites comes from Texas. Peach Salsa.

Yeah. I roll like that.

Oh my.
Just writing about it makes me wonder if life might be better lived fat and happy with chips in one hand and a bowl of salsa in the other.

At this point I bet you could easily guess my favorite kind of restaurant. Yep. Any that serve Mexican style food. You know the kind, don’t you? They always deliver chips and salsa.

I have spent years living on Salsa Time. And if I can lose some weight, I can get back to living on Salsa Time again. At least until I gain all the weight back and start all over once more.

It’s a vicious cycle.
Somebody help me.
I wonder if there is a support group for Salsa Addicts.

I hope you hear me having a little fun with something I seriously need to work on. I really must let go of my unhealthy approach to eating.

That’s not the only thing I am having to learn how to let go of…

It would be no gamble for me to say I am not alone.
You, dear reader, have things in your life that control you inordinately just as I do.

Here’s where this post on Salsa Time is taking us…

It has been a real temptation for me to let anger and bitterness control who I am and who I will be.

This is going to sound heartless and cruel, but I hope you will follow through with my thoughts and reasonings and hear me out.

I am glad Paul Buckman took his own life. I am sorry for his family, but I am glad he is gone on to his just reward, whatever that might be. I am thankful we were spared a trial and all the circus that comes with it.

There was a time in which I hated him and hated his family even worse. That anybody might have loved him and had an inkling of what he was capable of was a massive affront. I wanted every relative and distant connection he might have had to be gone from this earth.

But in the taking of his own life, he did me a service, as harsh as it might be. I hate what he did, but I cannot hate him for he is no longer here.

I have had to learn to let it all go.
Anger and bitterness engendered by his despicable actions are nothing but a poison to my body, mind, soul, and life.

The toxin that results from holding on to my anger and bitterness robs me of the joy of family. My beautiful new wife.
My children.
My new stepchildren.

They need me to be me. Not some twisted version of hate, rage, and bitterness.

I have been in a long process of letting it go.
Forgiveness is the next step.
And I am learning how to do even that.

Paul Buckman was just a man. However it happened, his made-in-the-image-of-God humanity got skewed all out of whack. I am sure his parents never envisioned what he would become. I suspect he never planned or desired to have his life end the way it did.

I hate the pain he has caused us. I hate the pain we will hold until God calls us home.

But I can no longer hate him.

A long time ago, in another life in the first church I served as full time preaching minister, a young lady said something I have never forgotten:

Forgiveness is a gift you gave yourself.

That’s powerful.
And true.
And totally rehabilitating.

Paul Buckman? I may have to wrestle with this over and over again, but today, I forgive you.

I forgive you.

Are there are folks and situations I need to let go of?
You betcha!

But for now, my plate is full. It’s impossible to forget, but I am going to forgive.

How about you?
Any forgiveness you need to give?

In the meantime, does anybody know where I can find some calorie free chips? My contraband salsa is waiting.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

Have You Forgiven?

Paul Buckman.

There is a part of me that hates hearing that name, seeing that name, or remembering that name.

I don’t know if I have completely forgiven him. I don’t know if I ever will be able to do such a difficult thing.

His evil actions have lifelong implications not just for me, but for my children. And if we are completely candid, his actions will have a multigenerational effect.

So what do we do with that?

I remember saying early on in this grief journey that I hated his whole family tree. That’s a little bit harsh, but I do have some righteous indignation for whomever in his family (or friends for that matter) who might have known of previous offenses and kept quiet.

All that being said, I have had to let so much of that go. As long as I continue to harbor bitterness and rage, he is still causing pain and heartache. For the most part, I have had to make peace with some things in order to find peace in new directions.

Have I forgiven Paul Buckman? Clearly he was an evil, wicked, sin-sick man. But what he did is in God’s hands.

I intend somehow to find the place in my heart to let him go completely. I need to. Not for him, he’s beyond anything I can think, feel, or do. I need to for me and for my family.

And based on that, maybe you too will find the words of my friend, Royce Ogle, to be important in your life as well. Thank you, Royce, for allowing me to share them here…

Have you ever heard someone say, “I just can’t forgive her (him)”? Maybe you have said that yourself. I might have said it myself. It’s a purely human response when someone has cause you pain, disappointment, or broken a trust. All of us have been violated in some way by another and have known the pain that ensues. That is true!

What is untrue is that you “can’t forgive” another, no matter how, and to what extent, you have been wronged. People who hold firmly to that position probably do not understand what forgiveness is and how to do it.

Many people, even many Christians, believe they only need to forgive those who ask for forgiveness, or those who apologize for a wrong. That is false. Forgiveness rests solely with you. If you will forgive another is completely your call, no other person is involved.

I don’t know how you have been wronged but you feel that something has been taken from you, an offence has been committed against you, and you deserve something…

To forgive someone is to release the offender from his debt, whatever it may be. The idea is that a compassionate lender tells the borrower he does not have to repay the balance of the loan. He is released from the debt.

To forgive someone is to release the resentment and bitterness you have stored up inside you. You visit there often and feel an emotional rush every time. To forgive another is to gather that garbage and throw it out.

To forgive someone is to treat the offender as if you have forgiven them. It means to sincerely desire the best for them, not the worst.

Forgiveness is a choice! But, it is not an emotional choice, it is an intellectual choice. If you wait ’til you “feel like it” you will never forgive someone who has wronged you. The reason you have decided to wait for an apology is that you want to “feel” better. The problem is you can’t “feel better” until after your forgive, not before. You must make a decision. You must tell yourself “I am tired of being bitter and resentful and I’m going to do the right thing and forgive“. Is it that easy? No, it isn’t easy but that’s the way to do it.

You see, all of your hateful thoughts, all of those things that fuel your hatred and disgust, make you more and more bitter, will not leave you unless you decide they have to go! You make the declaration to yourself “This moment I am forgiving _______ from every wrong against me. I will no longer harbor and encourage bad thoughts about him/her. I have set him/her free from the debt owed and I will experience peace where bitterness and resentment have lived.”

If you can’t seem to do this, start praying for the offender. You can’t pray for someone long and resent them at the same time. If you will to forgive soon your emotions will catch up to your thinking and you will experience peace instead of turmoil.
You don’t necessarily have to even tell the other person. In many cases the other person has gone on with life and has no idea you have been bitter for years. Maybe the person is deceased that you have had ill feelings about so long. Or, it might be an ex-spouse better left alone. You see, this forgiveness thing is all about you, not the other person.

Just try forgiveness. It is like a cool drink of water on a hot day, or a deep breath of fresh morning air. It’s so good for you. Bitterness and resentment can’t live in the same space with forgiveness.

I didn’t tell you that you must forgive others, Jesus did.

Thanks for reading–I love and appreciate each of you!

Les Ferguson, Jr.