I was searching--again--my mental database on forgiveness this morning. When my dander rises because of a certain person in my life, I check out what I call my Credits/Debits sheet, and find that there are so many more items on the credit side of my life's ledger, and I need to ask God's forgiveness for MY not-so-nice contribution to the current problem.
These two illustrations get me back on track:
There was once a quarrel between the wind and the sun. Each claimed to be the strongest, and one morning they agreed to put their powers to the proof. A traveler had just set out well wrapped up in a warm overcoat, and the wind challenged the sun to see which of them could make him take off his coat. So it swept down from the N.E., and howled past the poor traveler; but the harder it blew, the closer he buttoned his coat, and at last the wind gave up in despair. Then the sun began to peep out, and as the wind fell, and the sunshine became, more powerful, the traveler loosed first one button and then another, until his coat was quite unfastened. And the sun kept on shining until the traveler took his coat right off. Then the wind acknowledged that the sun was mightier. It is just so in our lives. If one meets you who wears a shabby coat of ill temper, your frowning won't make him lay it aside. But, if you meet him with a smile, he will soon throw it away in disgust (Anonymous). What great advice!
More wonderful advice: The best defense against the weapons of anger is not harshness, but gentleness. A little boy was one day playing where there was an echo. "Hallo!" he shouted. "Hallo!" said Echo. "Who are you?" he asked. "Who are you?" was the reply. And he fancied that some other boy was mocking him, and became very angry. "Why don't you come out?" he cried. "Come out!" answered Echo. Quite exasperated, he shouted, "I'll fight you!" and the voice replied,: "Fight you!" Then the little fellow ran home and told his mother that there was a boy in the forest who mocked him and made fun of him and threatened to fight him. And his wise mother, who knew all about the echo, smiled, and said, "Run out again and shout, 'I love you,' and see what answer comes." So the child ran out and shouted "I love you," and Echo replied, "I love you." Is it not a beautiful lesson? If you make faces before the mirror, you see all the ugly looks reflected on its bright surface. And so the people around us often reflect our own temper and speech. "A soft answer turneth away wrath" (Anonymous.)
So I must shout "I love you" in the midst of the surge of anger and hurt. That is what Jesus would do. (Please read my devotion "Dear Jesus - 70 x 7 Again?")