Two of the most powerful words ever created.

This past Sunday, after attending church and grabbing something to eat, our family decided to do a little shopping at the nearby mall.  Unfortunately, like every impromptu shopping trip, we seem to  always end up at Walmart for something.

We grabbed a couple of items at Walmart and then started back  to our car.  When we walked out of the front doors into the parking lot area, we heard a man in a truck yelling passionately at the vehicle in front of him.  The man in front of him was on his phone and apparently had made a bad decision.  The guy in the truck screamed out, “What are you thinking?!”

I instinctively knew from the tone of his voice that he was ready to go to blows right then over whatever just happened. You never know what is going on in someone’s life to make them blow up.  I asked Renee to get the kids in the car right away.

One guy parked in front of us.

One guy parked behind us.

We shuffled to get the kids in so they would not have to witness a nasty fight.

The man who was getting yelled at got out of his car.  He turned his cell phone off.

Then he walked toward the truck where the other man was just getting out.

My stomach started to flutter because I knew where this was going.

I watched the man walk over to the guy in the truck.  We had just clicked the kids into their car seats and closed the door when I heard these words:

I’m so sorry, really….I made a mistake back there.  I really am sorry.”

His hand was extended.

His hand was embraced.

He even got a touch on the shoulder and the two men walked into Walmart together.

After two minutes of rushing our kids to the car and watching this drama unfold, I finally took a breath.

(You don’t have to be “in the fight” to be in FIGHT or FLIGHT mode!)

I did not expect that ending.

But, the whole scene that day reminded me of two very wise truths in the Bible:

“A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is arrogant and careless. A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of evil devices is hated. The naive inherit foolishness, but the sensible are crowned with knowledge.  Proverbs 14:16-18

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” –Proverbs 15:1

So true.

It also reminded me that there are a lot of great opportunities that lie before us to make this world a better place.

I’ve had plenty of opportunities myself to practice constraint and failed more times than I would like to admit.

But I am getting better.

What about you today? Do you need to ask someone’s forgiveness?  Maybe a family member, a friend, or a co-worker? Has your church neglected the poor, the orphan, the community?

Don’t wait.  Go ahead a “pay-it-forward” today.  Release yourself and someone else from the poisonous grip of unforgiveness.

You’ll be glad you did.

Steve Gillis
Founder | Exec. Director