During our many years in South Africa, pleasure to know many Zulu people, one person stand out above all others. His name - Simon Dube.
Simon taught me a lot about his culture, people, and language. My biggest lesson was on the topic of forgiveness. Simon often reminded me,
“In anger a soul dies, only in forgiveness does a soul survive.”
As a much older man, Simon often reminded me, "Don, You've got to let go of the 'anythings' in your life that weighs you down. It's the 'anythings' that causes people to overthink, hold grudges, erect mental barriers, withdraw from relationships, and waste time and energy. Anything Don, let it go."
During our many conversations over twenty years we identified many ANYTHINGS:
ANYTHINGS of Betrayal
A friend of mine once suffered a total financial loss at the hands of a business partner who embezzled the company's 401k pension funds. Even though his business associate was sentenced to prison, my friend still struggles with that betrayal to this day; ANYTHING.
A church learned that $800,000 evaporated from their building fund. During that time their pastor acquired twenty rental properties, and the Chairman of the Finance Committee built a vacation home in Florida; ANYTHING.
On his 20th anniversary during the Sunday morning worship service, an associate pastor stood up and demanded the resignation of a pastor friend of mine. Upon refusing to resign, the associate and 105 adults walked out of the church. Happy anniversary; ANYTHING.
Hearing of a wildly untrue accusations about your character, worth, intentions, or self; ANYTHING.
Promises made to join a team just to realize the promise was nothing more than mere words; ANYTHING.
A confidence you finally gathered the courage to share, only for a friend to tell another; ANYTHING.
ANYTHINGS of Exclusion
Once another friend wanted nothing more than to be part of a Senior Team at a huge Megachurch in the Midwest. To be sure, in my opinion, he far out talented any member of that team, including their Senior Pastor. Perhaps his abilities and talents threatened the members of that staff. The Napoleonic senior pastor tended to hire only staff of far lesser ability than himself; ANYTHING.
Other friends in their middle 50's moved to a small town in Northern Minnesota. They intended to retire there. They loved the town, wilderness, and recreation. However, no matter what they did, contributed, or offered, resulted in a single close relationship. A 3rd generation member of that community instructed, "You'll never be more than a welcomed guest here. You're not one of us." Selling their house at a financial loss, they moved back to the Twin Cities; ANYTHING.
ANYTHINGS of Collusion
Another friend built a very impressive medical complex in a 3rd world country. Passion for the people's health and well-being oozed out of him. Devastating news arrived upon learning that an associate secured a contract against his life. Forced to flee the country for his safety, he ceded his life's work into the hands of others. The very group he served colluded to rid his presence of the very thing he championed; ANYTHING.
A pastor friend of mine openingly wept. As tears literally streamed down his face he cried, "Don, I don't know why they don't like me. They've had meetings in their homes talking about me. What did I do?" That pastor just didn't show up to church one Sunday. Believing he wasn't good enough, he simply stopped going to church vowing never to go back; ANYTHING.
ANYTHINGS of Offense
This anything is the anything most anythings are made of. You know, that person who does or says a thing just to offend. Words, actions, attitudes, or things that make you angry. The exchange you take home with you. The words you rehearse repeatedly. The irk robbing you of sleep. The inconsideration so inconsiderable that to you, it seems almost unconscionable. Unkind words. Untrue statements. A condescending look. A belittling gesture. A passed over promotion. Abandoned friendships; ANYTHING.
A group of siblings experienced a falling out with each other. My friend issued apologies offering forgiveness for what seemed a very small incident. He couldn't understand why one of the siblings wrote derogatory letters about him, and sent them to his employer; ANYTHING.
Recently, a friend shared disappointment with her church. Suffering major losses in her life the past year, she felt the church failed to respond to any her needs, pain, and heartaches; ANYTHING.
Anythings always follows us:
An unkind Facebook comment; ANYTHING.
A friend's hurtful comment; ANYTHING.
That promotion you deserved, but offered to another; ANYTHING.
The family member you'll never talk to again; ANYTHING.
An injury haunting you years later; ANYTHING.
An undesirable income status; ANYTHING.
A team that doesn't want you on "our" team any longer; ANYTHING.
The cold shoulder; ANYTHING.
The condescending look; ANYTHING.
Other things causing many things to become ANYTHING.
When it comes to the "ANYTHING" in my life, I think Jesus offers the best solution. He said long ago:
"If you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you . . ."
Here is the biggest everything about all anythings.
In order to gain forgiveness of my anythings towards anybodies, I must forgive other's anythings against me. In this, my anythings against God and others become nothings hidden in forgiveness.
Just My Thoughts,
Don was born in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having served twenty-two years in South Africa as missionaries with his wife Kathy, and eight years pastoring in the United States, he shares unique perspectives about life, family, relationships, and ministry.