Was visiting with a co-worker recently who is trying to walk alongside a mother who lost her high school son this year who took his own life. As she communicated some of the emotions and deep pain of a mother enduring going through the motions of watching other seniors graduate and leave the memory of her son behind -- some whose behaviors she perceived had contributed to this young man's deep wounds -- I was reminded of the opportunity I had several years ago to get to sit in a room and visit with Pamela Rosewell Moore who was Corrie ten Boom’s companion for the last 7 years of Corrie’s life.
I remember her sharing this story with us that day about a man who had been instrumental in abusing Corrie and her sister in one of the concentration camps. He had found her after many years to ask her forgiveness – I believe he may have even come to know the Lord following his crimes during war-torn Nazi Germany. The struggle, Pam said, was that Corrie knew she was commanded to forgive and thought that she had done so but even after all the time that had passed she was wrestling with the day-in-day-out feeling and attitude of forgiveness toward someone who had inflicted long-term wounds.
Corrie ten Boom told of not being able to forget a wrong that had been done to her. She had forgiven the person, but she kept rehashing the incident and so couldn't sleep. Finally Corrie cried out to God for help in putting the problem to rest. "His help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor," Corrie wrote, "to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks." "Up in the church tower," he said, nodding out the window, "is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there's a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope.
But if we've been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn't be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They're just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down." "And so it proved to be. There were a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up in my conversations, but the force -- which was my willingness in the matter -- had gone out of them. They came less and less often and at the last stopped altogether: we can trust God not only above our emotions, but also above our thoughts."
How I needed to be reminded of this in my own recent wrestling with forgiving someone who brought great pain in my life! I am deeply encouraged by a woman who has gone before me who, in her wounds, revealed the grace, love and forgiveness of the One who held her heart. Even more so, I am thankful the Best of Comforters (2 Cor. 1:3-7) who gives his rest and peace and can be trusted to help me be faithful to forgive in word and in heart!