So, we had a pretty epic snowstorm here in Wyoming about 4 months ago. (I know, I know, you’re shocked! *Insert sarcasm here.) Even with a lifetime of snow driving experience, I still managed to back into the mailbox of the lovely people who live across the street from us.
To be honest, I was in such a hurry I didn’t even get out of my vehicle. I just heard the crunch, knew I made an expensive mistake, and drove away to work. (No judging – they were already gone for the morning!) Before returning home over my lunch hour, I typed the following note:
In the early frenzy of icy streets, flying snow, white drifts, a crying baby, a singing toddler, and a “get to work on time” deadline, I backed into your mailbox this morning. It is leaning in a bad way. Please have it repaired and send me the bill. I’m so sorry!
The Embarrassed Lady Across the Street (Chelse)
When I went to hang the note on their door, I realized they were home and knocked instead. I visited with my neighbor, explaining my mistake. To my surprise, she hadn’t even noticed their drunk mailbox.
Then, her kind eyes softened and she sweetly said, “It’s fine. I’m sure it won’t take much to fix. Please don’t worry.”
I was prepared to explain the craziness of my morning with the kids, offer the assistance of my husband, or make arrangements to get the handyman of their choice hired. Her response stopped me in mid thought and left me with nothing else to say. I didn’t have to beg. I didn’t have to apologize profusely. I didn’t have to offer a solution. She had already made her mind up to forgive me and that’s what she did.
So, as the months passed I waited for her to change her mind. I even checked back in to see if she had since decided that they would appreciate my assistance in straightening the intoxicated mailbox, but her original response remained.
I share this story to give a gentle reminder of forgiveness. I needed that nudge to cut myself some slack; and the sobering reassurance that forgiving others is worth it. As one mom to another, my neighbor could have spewed a slew of pretty accurate questions or ideals such as, “Why weren’t you out the door earlier with your kids? You know it takes longer to drive in the snow!” or, “You should be careful when driving in bad weather!” She even could have jumped on my offer to correct my mistake. She didn’t do any of these things. She didn’t take the opportunity to pounce, take power, or deepen my wounds.
You see, the frenzied self talk in my brain on that morning was pretty harsh. I criticized my own parenting, organization skills, driving abilities and intelligence. All for what? An unintentional mishap that caused little (and fixable) damage? I believe that she knew in her heart what I was putting myself through. She was sharing in my working mommy battle and knew that I was overwhelmed with “one more thing.” Her loving forgiveness is something that impacted my psyche and meant more to me than she may ever really know. In choosing forgiveness she gave me permission to forgive myself.
Forgiveness is worth it, and it can change someone’s world. This life is full of true tragedy and tribulation, so I’m doing my best to move on from the small stuff as well as let go of all the things I cannot control…and forgive.
*Mailbox meme from here.
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