(continued from Part One, here)
“Newspaper” can be a verb. Several college friends traveled to Colorado, attended our wedding, and “newspapered” our hotel bathroom.
Later, I found out how they got in.
How did they know where we were staying?
We married in August. That summer I lived and worked on campus. While friends were in my dorm room, I left to go to the restroom. One of them took that opportunity to open my planner (which I trustingly left in plain view), turn to August 27, and see the words “San Juan Inn” I had written. (Why did I write it down? Did I think I’d forget?) In this way, he easily discovered which hotel we booked for our wedding night (which, of all the nights of my life, there would be only one).
How did they get into the room?
In small-town culture, trust tends to win over suspicion. A girlfriend approached the hotel front desk and said, “I’m Monica Sharman. I left my purse in my room. Can I have another key?” The receptionist questioned her a little, but she kept insisting, “I’m Monica Sharman!” She got a key. They got in. They worked quickly. The result: floor to ceiling, a bathroom crammmed with crumpled-up newspaper. Only two miles away, Charles and I posed for pictures and mingled with our guests.
When everyone found out I was angry instead of amused, I began to receive quick and sincere apologies. One apologized the next morning on the phone. I forgave her right away.
After the honeymoon and back at college, another walked to our off-campus apartment to apologize in tears. I forgave her on the spot.
Another spoke no apology because he didn’t need to; he had refused to participate.
Several didn’t bother to apologize, probably because they heard I had already declared a blanket forgiveness the day after my wedding. I forgave them, too.
One came to our apartment on other business. When he found out I was upset about the wedding-room break-in, he shrugged his shoulders a little. “Sorry, but it was just a joke.”
Just a joke?! Didn’t he realize that of all the nights in my entire life, only ONE would be my wedding night?
I said I forgave him, but it was a statement made through clenched teeth. I forced myself to say it, though, because isn’t instant forgiveness what all good Christians are supposed to do?
My anger did subside, but only to build up and boil underground again like a predictable geyser about to blow. Then the Old Faithful of my bitter unforgiveness would spew. Grrrrrr.
At every eruption I scolded myself: You said you’ve forvigen! Get over it!
It seems a silly thing to be angry over, but years of contrived, self-deceived “forgiveness” magnifies everything out of proportion and perspective.
My geyser spouted regularly—for five years. Finally, I asked dear Kathleen for help. She prayed for me, gave me counsel, and, finally, I truly forgave. God gave me grace to forgive. All anger and bitterness—gone from that point on.
Why did it take me so long to figure out that there is a difference between insincere spoken forgiveness, and true forgiveness? I can’t merely speak it. I must also mean it.
On our fifteenth anniversary, Charles and I spent a night at a lovely B&B in Ouray, one of my favorite places on earth. No one broke in, no one intruded.
But even if they did, I would have made sure I meant “I forgive you” before I said it.
Another thing I’ve realized: yes, of all the nights of my life, only one was my wedding night. But then, there are all the other nights, too.