There’s this guy that owes me thirty bucks. I “loaned” him some money a few years ago on the promise that he’d pay me back the next week. That never happened and now, years later, I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that it never will. It’s not that I even really care about the money (anymore); what bothers me is that every time I think of this guy, I instantly think of the $30 he owes me. I wish he’d pay me back so I wouldn’t have to think about the fact that he owes me money.
The difficulty with loving others is that we’re told that love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:5), a concept which I find almost impossible to live up to. I’ve forgiven the guy for breaking his word and not paying me back, but I can’t seem to wipe the slate clean and forget the grievance. Trying to keep no record of wrongs is like trying to un-ring a bell; it can’t be done.
I guess all of this seems pretty petty. But I have a good friend who recently had a family member that was murdered and the perpetrator has yet to be caught. We were talking the other night and my friend said, “You know, if they caught the guy and I was given the chance to say something to him, I don’t know what I’d say.” In this hypothetical situation, my friend said he would be torn between what he would want to say and what he knows he should say.
And maybe that’s the point. Maybe we’re supposed to feel this tension, the tension between the ideal of 1 Cor. 13:5 and the reality of our humanity. Maybe we’re supposed to feel this tension and it’s the tension that helps make us better people. I don’t know. All I know is that a love that keeps no record of wrongs must come from someplace outside myself, because I’m just not quite there yet on my own.
Maybe feeling the tension is the place where that starts.
I hope so.