Lenten Devotional, April 8: By Andrea Hoxie

I will greet this day with love in my heart. So begins the scroll marked two from Og Mandino's best selling work The Greatest Salesman in the World. It is my favorite scroll of the 10 because it reminds me of what is important. I was originally introduced to this little book 20 years ago when I first dipped my toe in the world of insurance.

I went to a sales meeting where a man, who had built a business of about 40 agents, began his meetings with the reading of one of the scrolls.

My relationship with that man and his business was short-lived, when he was found to have employed deceptive sales tactics in the marketing of Medicare plans. I could not connect the dots from I will greet this day with love in my heart to cheating Medicare beneficiaries. I severed the relationship. My then best friend chose to stay with the agency rather than break away with me. This was someone whom I coached and prepped for the agent's exam, someone who had nursed me in illness, picked up my child from school, and entrusted me with private information like credit card numbers and bank accounts and the secret stuff that few even dare to utter. That was the first of many slights and even some serious betrayals as we began to drift apart. I remember the day during a conversation when I simply said if you need me, call. From that day forward I let go of a bond that had lasted 17+ years. A couple of years later I answered that call. When I heard the voice, I simply said "what's up . . . yep, I can do that."

Twenty years later there have been uncountable opportunities to walk away, to let go, to protect myself with distance – from whatever. It is not always easy. I learned that sometimes I had to love from a distance in order to be free. That is how I define forgiveness: it is freedom. And that freedom is impossible without love. And that love does not keep score, nor does it go tit for tat. And that love comes from God, knowing that He loved me so that He gave His Son, Who asked Him to forgive us in our wrongdoing, even while He suffered. Knowing that He saved a wretch like me, changes how I should respond.

Whether a social slight, disregard for a suggestion, or a betrayal of massive proportion, I have learned that the longer I hold on to hurt and anger, the longer I suffer. Christ has done the suffering, taking on the sin of the world, including not only the wrong inflicted on me, but the wrong I inflicted on others, intentional or not, by commission or omission, perceived or imagined, on both sides of that equation.

Nothing worthwhile can be achieved without love. And without love, there is no forgiveness.


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