Forgiveness

By Caleb G.

A couple years ago, my family and I were taking our annual winter vacation trip to New York. One day my dad, my siblings, and I went to Grand Central Station to see a laser show, which, in the end turned out to be pretty bad. Anyway, after the show my dad and sister went off to get some lemonade for her down the hall, leaving my brother and me by ourselves.

My brother and I are standing all alone in Grand Central Station when my brother starts repeating the words, "will you give me some trivia, will you give me some trivia, will you give me some trivia? I’m bored. I’m bored. Ask me trivia questions."

For those of you who have younger brothers, maybe you can sympathize; for those of you who don't, imagine a fly that keeps on buzzing right next to your ear and then away, and then back in your ear again. Are you beginning to see my dilemma? All right, so, I’ve been enduring my brother’s pestering for about 5 minutes now, and so far I've remained calm, politely asking him to stop. But no, following the true spirit of flies and little brothers he continues asking me "will you give me some trivia, will you give me some trivia?" Finally I reach my boiling point and erupt into a fit of yelling, letting out some of my frustration. At this point everyone is staring at me and my brother (policemen included). And the yelling isn’t working very well to let out the frustration and anger, because I am still boiling.

For those of you who have older siblings, maybe you've experienced the neck grab. You don’t strangle, you just push on the back of the neck until it hurts. So at this point, I decide to expel my anger using this tried and true method. So I’m squeezing the back of my brother’s neck and he's flailing; and then I let go once my anger finally dissipates. Of course the first thing my brother can think of doing is to PRETEND that I was strangling him. For best effect, he goes completely limp and, of course, melodramatically falls to the floor. Unfortunately for both of us, on his journey to the floor he bumps his jaw into a railing, which chips his tooth.

Now I want you guys to picture me, the older brother standing over the little brother with his mouth gushing blood, under the gaze of several policemen. Immediately I kneel down and start asking if he's OK, but I can’t quite say I’m sorry. Just then, what do you know but the nearest policeman walks over to me and starts asking, "Hmm...What happened here, what's going on, where are your parents?” So I start nervously explaining what happened – becoming more and more indignant and less and less apologetic. After all, he’s the one who “fake” fell. When I was done the police officer gave me one of those looks and starts ranting about how bad of a brother I am, not taking responsibility for anything: "How dare you! I bet you're a horrible brother, I bet you beat him every night, I bet you treat him like trash." (I’m not kidding. He really said that.) Slowly a small armada of policemen gathers around us, and joins in the chorus of negative opinions about my overall character. As they continue their lecture, I am kneeling over my brother, tears now streaming from my eyes, being told what a horrible person I am by six or seven policemen, wearing soldier-like uniforms. At this point my dad has completed his purchase of the lemonade and rounded the corner to find his 5-year-old son, face covered in blood, and his 8 year old son, kneeling over him, surrounded by six or seven policemen. You can imagine what he was thinking at that moment, and if you can't I'll tell you what he was thinking, he was thinking, “Oh My God! Caleb, what have you done?” And all I can think to answer was “but it’s NOT MY FAULT.”

And now we come to the moral of this story: As I kneel there, trying desperately to avoid responsibility for any part of this mess, we all hear a voice from the ground. It is Gabriel: “Actually, it really isn’t his fault. It’s MINE.” When he apologized, I suddenly realized that I had a big part in this too and that I needed to ask forgiveness of him as well. I couldn’t see that before because I was too angry and frustrated.

And at that moment, I learned a really important lesson about forgiveness: I came out of the ordeal realizing that when you feel like something has been inflicted on you, or you have been falsely accused, try to think about your role in the story and what you did wrong, not just what the other person did wrong. And go beyond that to take responsibility for what’s happened, and apologize for your shortcomings. If my little brother could do that at the age of five, it’s possible for anyone.