Beloved, I’m a strange creature by nature. My body likes to be awake during daylight, but my brain is a stubborn night owl. The darkest hours are when my mind is most active, weaving stories from shadows. Sometimes I give in to the creativity because I frustrate myself otherwise.
Not this night. I had a long day ahead so I went to bed early. About thirty minutes after I’d closed my eyes, I heard four loud slams. Someone in the house had slammed doors upstairs and doors downstairs. Light sleeper that I am, I was immediately wide awake.
Falling asleep is difficult enough for me; staying asleep is nearly impossible without a sleep aid. And I had already taken those. Needless to say, I was unhappy to be woken by whomever was causing unnecessary noise.
For the rest of the night, I tossed and turned. At 9:30 a.m., wide awake and definitely not rested enough, I sighed and got up. Like tea leaves forgotten in a mug, I was steeped in irritation. Over a strong cup of coffee, I realized I had a choice. I could allow myself to stew in those negative thoughts and remain irritated all day. Or I could attempt to forgive without confrontation.
I had to choose one.
In my mind, I stepped back and thought about my housemates, about who they are, and my friendships with them. They’re not the kind of people who would be disrespectful or unkind on purpose. Neither would they intentionally keep me from getting a good night of sleep because they know how difficult it is and, as my friends, they genuinely care.
So I took a few breaths and asked myself an important question.
And then I decided to bake cookies. Yeah, I know it’s odd. But sometimes the best thing you can do is take a difficult situation and flip it on its head. Do something completely out of the ordinary. And I did say I’m a strange creature by nature.
As I stirred the batter, I felt my anger begin to dissipate. I hummed and sang and prayed that those strawberry chocolate-chip cake-batter cookies would be some of the best I’ve ever made. Because I believe that the people I love deserve nothing less than my best.
The question I had asked myself was this: Have they ever forgiven me when I’ve done them wrong? Answer: Yes. Many times. I am so deeply imperfect. There have been quite a few instances where I wish I had stepped up and been a better friend. Yet to this day, they forgive me when I need it.
What gives me the right, then, to withhold my forgiveness?
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25, NIV)
We often think of forgiveness as something earned—that others need to apologize first. But the hard truth is they don’t. There is no verse in the entirety of scripture that tells us to wait for an apology. We are charged to forgive, regardless of whether that person has apologized or feels remorse. I have no right to withhold my forgiveness. If I want to be forgiven, I must forgive others.
“Love…keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NIV)
Love forgives all sins. If I want to live by love, and I want to love well, I must forgive. Personally, when I leave this earth, I want others to remember me by the way I loved.
People in our lives will try our patience, provoke us, make us roll our eyes, confuse us, and generally make us sigh in frustration. Our reaction to them is what separates us from the world. In those moments, I suggest baking something for the person who has bothered you. It’s hard to stay mad when you’re up to your elbows in sugary dough!
And when the dishes are cleaned and the cookies have been eaten, you’ll feel better and be able to see the situation with more clarity. Not because of the sugar, but because you poured your forgiveness into a blessing for someone else. You will have obeyed the Lord we serve.
No cookie could be sweeter.