The is a line in the book Radical Hospitality by Lonni Collins Pratt that I read this spring that continues to stir in me.
“This isn’t you!”
She tells the story of two young priests, Father Dan who was angry at Father Mike for inviting his (Dan’s) friends to his party. In Dan’s anger, he writes a letter to Mike telling him to get his own friends. He shoves the letter under Mike’s door and feels better for letting it all out…until later. He can’t sleep that night and can’t believe he has given way to jealousy and pride. He can’t believe he had said such awful things to his faithful friend. He is disgusted with himself. Early the next morning, after he had fallen asleep exhausted, Mike slips the envelope back under Dan’s door. He does an amazing thing. He returns the letter and written on the envelope is “Dan, this isn’t you.”
This simple of story of forgiveness has shed new perspective on forgiveness. I may be hurt, angry, frustrated, disappointed at another for how that person has treated me. I could respond in a variety of ways to set that person straight or I can follow Father Mike’s example and see beyond their actions to who that person is deep within. Sometimes that is hard, but it is what Jesus did and it is how God is with me! When I realize I am not responding in a loving way, I can listen for God to say “This isn’t you! Be you, the one I created you to be!” I can also offer the same grace to others.