Community Post: To ForgiveBlog / Produced by The High Calling
"Some lessons of living in community come from family," writes author Laura Lynn Brown in a community post from our Reconciliation at Work theme. "Some come from congregations...and some come from the workplace."
Some lessons of living in community come from family. Some come from congregations. And some come from the workplace.
A coworker and I have worked within whispering distance for nearly a decade now, and from time to time, we get crossways. One of us does something that feels to the other like a breach of some kind, and we get mad, and then hurt, and the silent treatment seems the best course of inaction.
It’s complicated because the borders between work collegiality and friendship are not well-marked. When there’s a conflict, one of us tends to default to work protocol, the other to expect decency (with a dash of grace) borne of friendship.
I am the subordinate in our office hierarchy, and I am also usually the one who ends up choosing angry silence, rather than humble, respectful, deferential, or self-protective silence. I feel betrayed—predictably, it seems, since this has happened several times. But it was one of those times that eventually made me grateful for both her prickliness (which, I confess, I can manifest as well) and her proximity, because of an ensuing lesson in forgiveness.
We worshipped at the same church for a while, a church that observed the Lord’s Supper once a month, with a custom of going forward to the altar to receive it. One Communion Sunday fell during a period when I wasn’t speaking to her. I don’t recall the occasion precisely, but it was a day with attendance much higher than usual. To accommodate the masses, there were several Communion stations around the sanctuary.
At the one nearest to me, she was handing out the bread of heaven.
For a moment, I did a geographic calculation and tried to rationalize that another station was actually closer. Moving in that direction, I could evade coming face to face with a convicting truth. But lying in church is an act that renders me unfit to take Communion.
So is holding a grudge against a sister.
Still sitting, then and there, in chastened silence, I forgave. On foot, out of the pew and toward the bread, in urgent and penitent silence, I asked to be forgiven. When we met, in merciful silence, I asked the same with my eyes.
Luckily, liturgy provided a script. “The body of Christ, broken for you,” she said.
And after many days of wielding silence over something I don’t even remember, I broke it with one word: