I have a little friend whom I love very much. I have known him since he was a newborn baby, fresh out of the womb. I am going to refer to this friend as Dante. Dante is eleven going on twenty-one. He is at that awkward pre-teen stage in his life where he thinks he knows what is best (with his eleven years of life experience).
Dante told one too many lies and his father doled out some corporal punishment via a few swats on his bottom with a belt. Dante played it off like he was fine but secretly called the police on his father later on. When the police came he gave an Oscar-worthy performance and showed off his bruises (he was light-skinned). Dante thought that he would teach his father a lesson but what he did not know was that his not-so-well-off single father would now have a criminal record, which would make it even more difficult for him to keep the job he recently started, get future jobs and provide for the both of them. Dante did not think of his father possibly being hurt in jail (they hate child abusers) or the money lost from his days off from work. What Dante was the least conscious of was the fact that he could be placed in the foster care system and would not be able to live with his dad anymore.
Dante’s father is a friend of mine and I was really upset with Dante. I could not even look at him because I was so disgusted. He thought it was a game and did not have a clue as to the damage he caused. I did not know what to say, so I just avoided him and was cold to him when we were together. Of course, I knew I was wrong but I was hurt, disappointed and angry and thought it was best to stay away rather than say something I would regret later. All I could do was pray. I prayed that the whole shebang would be resolved but I also prayed that God would soften my heart towards Dante.
The Bible says “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). If God can forgive me for all the stuff I have done (willingly and with full knowledge of the consequences), surely I could forgive little Dante who made a rash and naïve mistake. The next time I saw Dante I was actually a little nervous. Would he forgive me? How do I broach up the topic? I hovered around making small talk until I could bring myself to say, “Um, the other day I was kind of mad with you and I was not very nice to you. I am sorry for treating you like that” (am I awkward or what). Then I felt both stupid and relieved because he said, “Oh, ok. I did not even know you were mad though. I thought you were just in a hurry”. And just like that, it was over. Dante is really blessed. He was a hair’s breath from being placed in foster care and is now living with one of his aunts. Best of all he has regular contact with his father. It is not the result everyone wanted but God has turned it in everyone’s favor and kept the family together.