This is the third blog post about our quick trip to Hawai‘i from September 1 to 8. So many positive events happened, and I want to share another. It’s about turning a negative experience into a positive one.
In June 1967, our family moved from Maui back to Honolulu for an exciting experimental ministry with youth. The rector of the church where Annie and I met and married and I had led a large youth group asked me if I would consider returning because that group had dwindled from 350 teens to 40. I accepted his offer.
Within two years, we had over 2,500 teens, college-age youth, and young married couples involved in our twenty-two different ministries. But that’s for a different blog post.
We had a youth theater group that presented provocative plays. The rector nixed one of the plays, Viet Rock, so we put it on at another church on a Sunday evening in 1969. On Monday morning, the rector stormed into my office and pronounced, “You’re fired! You need to be out of your church house and return the church car within thirty days.”
Fortunately, the bishop hired me later that morning at 9 a.m., and I quickly became involved in my new ministries.
Let’s jump thirty-two years later, in 2001, when I received a letter from the man who fired me. In it, he asked for my forgiveness and confessed that he fired me because he was jealous and threatened by all my successes with the youth group. Quickly, I replied that I had forgiven him shortly after he fired me. (A long time ago, I learned that not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.)
This should be the end of the story, but later I learned that the rector had sent out a letter to the congregation (except to our close friends) telling them that I had resigned because I was tired of youth work. This was a total lie. I loved that work.
What to do? I was angry and wanted to unforgive him (is there such a thing?), but by now that man had died. I tried to move on but couldn’t quite let go of the lie he spread.
But now, with this chance to return to Hawai‘i, I saw an opportunity for closure. If I could preach at that church, perhaps I could bring this to a positive conclusion.
I emailed the new rector there, and she was most welcoming. On September 4, I preached a powerful positive message about my growth as a Follower and how important that church had been in my faith journey.
Just as I thought, this experience gave me the closure I needed to fully forgive that man for what he had done to me and my family. What a relief!
Do you have any open wounds that need closure? If yes, do what you can to find it.
Peace Love Joy Hope
Photo by Milo Bauman on Unsplash