I was no angel growing up. In fact, I was kind of a dork. My mouth was generally engaged before my brain, and I constantly blurted out things that, if thought through, were usually better left unsaid. It wasn’t because I was mean, it was because I lacked any sense of self-control or discipline. If I was a child today, I’d have been diagnosed as ADHD and destroyed for life by psychothropic drugs.
I left town after high school carrying a lot of shame for my foolish words, which I knew had hurt many friends and family members. They were charitable and forgiving people, and though I stayed far away, I kept in occasional contact with them and visited only on rare occasions.
Determined to start anew, I avoided all but casual friendships in my new life, knowing that as some point I’d let my guard down and make some offhanded remark that would offend yet another person. Almost 30 years later, I’ve achieved some level of self-control, and have recently returned to my hometown, my tongue better controlled, and my friendships preserved.
Two realizations have helped me in these past three decades:
- True friends overlook your faults and forgive your trespasses – and I should be a true friend
- The passing of time and small disciplines practiced daily will lead to maturity
Jesus returned to His hometown mature – commissioned by the Heavenly Father (Mark 1:9-11) to ministry, yet He was rejected because they knew Him as a child, knew His family, and as a result selfishly rejected His message.
Unlike my experience, the people were not charitable, not forgiving. They did not receive the message of peace Jesus was bringing – maybe a class system caused them to be jealous of His wisdom and healing power rather than receive Him as one of their own. But then again, I’m not a prophet (Mark 6:4).
Had they received and welcomed Jesus’ teaching – had they had faith – many more would have been healed, they would have received teaching from the ultimate source of wisdom, and they would have gained maturity.
There’s a third realization that has helped me over the past 30 years: that faith in God, His Word, and in His Son lead to maturity and softens the hearts even of those you’ve offended in the past to a supernatural forgetfulness that results in being embraced by those you’ve hurt.
To begin your path to maturity, start by the daily discipline of prayer and Bible study. Build your faith first, and maturity will follow. Then high walls will come down, reuniting you with family, friends – and they forget your offenses… and you forget theirs.