The first stop was at the door of a client who signed a hefty one-year contract that he didn’t have the financial resources to fulfill.
“F” him! Yep, I forgave him. In fact, every time he crosses my mind, I shout the “F” word again. I’ll keep practicing that line until I can recite it with loving sincerity.
The next speed bump was the prospective client who dramatically demonstrated what disrespect looks like when it’s taken to the extreme. He had offered an even more lucrative contract. Got lost on his desk, I guess. He refuses to talk about it. “F” him in generous helpings with unlimited refills. Ooh! That was so satisfying!
Wait a minute. What happened? Am I on the right road? Didn’t I pass this intersection before? The corner of Shallow Pockets and Shady.
OH! And look who’s standing there. It’s Client #1. He knew that I wasn’t the slightest bit entertained by his first performance. But he also knew that I suddenly needed a client to fill the gaping hole in my schedule, a client with both integrity and money in the bank. So he disguised himself as one.
“Tsk, tsk, your sharp teeth are showing, Sir. “
Do you know that karma-creatin’ clown actually tried to trick me into doing a massive project on 100% contingency? “F” HIM!!! And, please God, make it stick this time so I’ll never attract anyone like him into my life again! It’s time to move on.
Screech! What now? Just as I thought I was ready to shift into the passing gear, I slammed right into a four-letter F word: none other than the illustrious James Frey, big-as-if-you-please, casting an ominous shadow of suspicion on every author who ever wrote a memoir. I needed this cloud over my first book?
“F” James—and my former colleague Oprah, who dared to say that truth doesn’t matter. She changed her mind. Not sure he’s gotten there yet. But I’m gonna keep forgiving him, anyway. “F” you, James–and Random House.
Who knew the road to the Final Frontier would be this tough? Forgiving everyone, including myself, for random acts of unkindness is not for punks. How long will it take to get to my destination at this rate? This is not exactly how I want to spend the rest of my life—on a path to somewhere that always seems just a few miles ahead.
What should I do? I wondered.
Do what you always do: Create a different reality with your mind.
Duh. What was I thinking?
In the blink of an eye, I created the world’s largest coliseum. State-of-the-art, of course. A first class venue, if you ever saw one. The concession stands sold the best food in the world–and at reasonable prices. It had plush seats, cup holders holding beautiful crystal champagne glasses, and under each chair was a mysterious looking sheet of shiny metal.
With another thought, I recalled every encounter in my eternal life that still held some residual anger, guilt, judgment, condemnation, or resentment because I had never said or thought the “f” word. Instantly, the stadium was filled with those who were pivotal to each scene. I mean this place was packed. In fact, there were so many folks in the parking lot that I had to build another stadium!
The air was buzzing with anticipation—curiosity mostly, but I could sense a bit of hostility, too. Some weren’t exactly thrilled to see my behind again. Others were embarrassed and ashamed to look at me.
I smiled, took a deep breath, and lowered the gigantic four-sided screen that hung over the playing field. As the lights dimmed and music slowly faded in, I explained that we were about to witness the most amazing reality show ever. That got their attention.
In the deeply edited version of my life, many of those in the stands were on-screen, co-starring in scenes that had no entertainment value. Absolutely none. But these were valuable scenes, nonetheless.
What all of us dramatically discovered by watching the big screen is that Life is always fair: whatever you do comes back to you. Every thought, every action, and every word ricochet, leaving dark impressions on our eternal souls.
It was spellbinding, eye-opening stuff, those bigger-than-life scenes in front of us. We noticed that an act performed during one encounter encored in another seemingly unrelated scene. When those scenes were played back-to-back, however, we could instantly connect the dots that we had failed to connect previously.
We were mesmerized. It was so clear why the Rule is Golden: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Because…it will. Eye for an eye. We’d heard it, but we didn’t understand it. Now, it was so clear why Jesus had advised us not to judge or condemn, unless we wanted to be judged or condemned. It was clearer still why we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Our actions are interrelated, and so are we.
I like quoting my friend, Rev. Dr. Vici Derrick of Seattle’s Joy Chapel, who says, “I am not my brother’s keeper. I am my brother.” Roll the credits.
Stunned silence greeted the movie’s end. No one moved.
Perfect! I didn’t want them to. (That’s the great thing about directing your own dream.)
I asked my guests to lift the glasses in their cup holders. Instantly, they were filled with pink champagne.
With my glass held high, I made a 360-degree turn, bowed humbly to each section of the stadium, and did what I should have done ages ago: I said the “f” word. I forgave them and I forgave myself for anything I might have done to hurt them in any way. I followed it with the “l’ word. I told each of them that I loved them the way Jesus taught us to love, the way God loves His prodigal children: unconditionally.
We saluted each other and sipped the delicious champagne.
“One more thing, Loved Ones,” I said. “Please pick up the iridescent sheet that is under your seat and hold it high.
I didn’t even know what was going to happen, frankly. So I was as surprised as they were when the forgiveness I had gently cast their way reflected off of those panels right back at me. It seemed to bounce off of every panel, multiply and intensify. There was joy in the house!
The Light of Forgiveness dispelled the darkness of anger and resentment that had blocked our personal paths, lifted it out of that stadium, and we watched it disappear into nothingness.
The cheers were deafening. We were free, thank God Almighty! We were finally released from our self-imposed prisons.
When I opened my eyes, I could still feel the overwhelming joy, the chills from the experience. I had witnessed a miracle. I could physically feel that I had removed roadblocks in my own path that had hampered my progress, created unhappy relationships, and attracted people who are not impeccable with their word.
Something had changed. I had changed. Days later, I’d discover how much.
I had trusted others to be honorable. I made plans based on their misrepresentations. As a result, I was in a real jam. Stuck, almost to the point of paralysis. Every time it appeared that the ambulance was pulling up to my door, it would suddenly disappear. Poof! Gone. As if I had never seen it.
Poor perception on my part—and yep, poor memory. I’d forgotten that we can’t solve problems on the same level that we created them. I’d also forgotten that my rescuer, like my problem, is never outside of me.
More important, I’d forgotten how powerful the “f” word is and how it reflects back on you and heals you where you most need it. Yesterday, that stadium full of forgiveness made an encore performance in my life in the most unexpected and miraculous way.
From now on, if I find myself in a jam, the first thing I’m going to do is “F” it! In fact, I’ll probably make a grand production of it, and write the most powerful, life-altering script I’ve ever penned.
One soliloquoy: “I forgive…”