Forgiveness has no Expiration Date

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Image: St. Mary’s, Longview, TX

Yesterday, I posted my planned Ash Wednesday reflection, but I left out one important part of my church-going experience: an apology for a slight long-past and already forgiven in my heart. I wrote about this encounter in August, 2010 on the old version of Fatherhood Etc. I reproduce the post in full here:

God Bless You
August 16, 2010 09:56:27 AM
Posted By David Ozab

I went to Mass yesterday at the Carmel of Maria Regina—a Carmelite convent about ten minutes from home. This was my second visit there in three weeks, and though I don’t see it as a permanent church home for my family it is a quiet, prayerful place that I enjoy visiting.

After Mass, I was walking through the parking lot to my van. As I walked to the driver’s side door, I heard a voice behind me.

“I’m surprised to see you here with those on your bumper.”

He was referring to the three well-worn Obama campaign bumper stickers that have adorned our van for the last two years. This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard a rude comment about them, but it was the first time I heard one in a church parking lot after Mass.

How Christian of you, I thought, but I refused to counter his comment with one just as rude. Instead, I got in the car and started backing out.

The parking lot is quite narrow so it took a few tries to pull out of the spot and straighten up without hitting someone. As I was about to drive off, I glanced over my shoulder. He stood there staring at my bumper stickers, like he could peel them off if he glared at them hard enough.

“What?” I asked, knowing the answer.

“What?” He sounded surprised that I was challenging him.

I paused for a moment, wondering what I’d say next. When I opened my mouth again, I think the Holy Spirit was guiding me.

“God bless you.”

His scowl transformed into a smile. “God bless you too.”

It’s been over eighteen months, I haven’t thought about it much since then but he had, and as we left church yesterday morning he pulled me aside:

“I don’t know if you remember, but I made a comment a while back about your Obama bumper sticker. Well, I just wanted to apologize.”

We shook hands and chatted for a few minutes. We have very strong, and often differing opinions about many subjects, but on two things we wholeheartedly agree:

  1. Those things we hold in common—our shared faith and our shared humanity—are far greater than any of our disagreements.
  2. Forgiveness has no expiration date.

All in all, it was an excellent start to a Lenten journey.

One thought on “Forgiveness has no Expiration Date

  1. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The text in your content seem to be running off the screen in Firefox.
    I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know.
    The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon.


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