With Christmas pushing through the door, seemingly shoving Thanksgiving aside, a small bit of anxiousness grows as I look at the still unfinished Christmas stocking for my grandson, Henry. When I last posted the picture of the woe-begotten state of affairs of my pitiful knitting project, I had actually come to a point of being a tad bit hopeful. Finishing the white trim on Santa’s hat, I left my friend—who is walking with me through this painful learning experience—with a quickness of step, and a lightness of heart, ready to jump in, sure, that this time, nothing could stop me.
I know how to knit.
I know how to pearl.
And more importantly, I know how to tink.*
What more could anyone want?
“You’re ready to start the black,” was emblazoned in my head and heart as I left Joan’s house that day. Sitting down later that night with knitting in hand, I grabbed the black yarn, knitting, knitting, knitting, pearling, pearling, pearling, then knitting again three rows back and forth. Looking at the stocking, because I was proud as punch—and the stitches did look nice—I noticed for the first time that something was terribly amiss. How could you possibly see black eyes in the middle of the black yarn? Bursting into laughter that was so hard I couldn’t speak, my nose running and my face covered in tears, I sent Joan this text:
Joan, I have to tell you–I was knitting gangbusters, adding in the black, moving right along, until…I noticed my Santa was African American. I didn’t realize the ‘upside down “v” in the pattern was designated as pink yarn 😂😂😂 I’m laughing so hard I can hardly text you. I have tinked it all back.
No, I didn’t think to take a picture. It didn’t even cross my mind. It was just too hilarious. My son, John, Henry’s dad, thought I should have left it like it was. It would be a good story for years to come. But I didn’t, and thankfully, it was something I could undo.
We all blunder, making mistakes we wish didn’t happen. Some—like forgetting to do something promised—we have ungracefully teetered into, and others—such as stumbling into a partial truth without immediately clearing it up—decidedly not. Either way it’s what we do in the aftermath that matters.
Our reaction is often denial and justification rolled into one. Making excuses, our back peddling voices sound more like squeaking chalk on a chalkboard. Anyone listening—I know because I’ve heard myself doing that more often than I would like to admit—feels uncomfortable because deep-down something doesn’t ring true. It’s far better to dive in, and putting on the handcuffs of truth, clear the air.
Then, there are those other times, when what was done, cannot be undone. At least not by earthly means. Wounded by the actions of others, trust is broken. We find ourselves in a seemingly hopeless swirl, all with the realization that a simple fix won’t do. Talking won’t help. Neither will peace offerings. From any perspective, it looks pretty dark.
Forgiveness is key. But from both sides of the coin. From the one who needs to ask it, taking ownership of what you are guilty of, is paramount. And from the one who carries the hurt, giving forgiveness is equally important.
The truth is, forgiveness only comes from Heaven. It is something you can’t hold in your heart unless the Lord puts it there. From the smallest infraction to what is unfathomably huge, only God can give you that gift. Read what Corrie Ten Boom wrote in The Hiding Place, when one of the German S.S. guards from the prison camp sought her after a church service.
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,” he said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away.”
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful, thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself. ¹
We all are in need to give and receive forgiveness. And Jesus, full of grace and mercy wants to bless us with it, just as He did for Corrie Ten Boom. All we need to do is ask.
Praying for tender hearts for all of us,
¹ Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place. (New York, New York: Bantam Books, 1974), page 238.