I posted part of this story on twitter yesterday:
NOTE: The hashtag is courtesy of my friend Carlos Whittaker and his new book “Moment Maker” – check it out!
So, It was the strangest way to start my day to say the least. But it was a moment maker for sure.
First, you need the back story…
As I pulled up to Anytime Fitness, there was a guy outside, desparately trying to get someone’s attention to let him in.
He had gone for a run, leaving all his clothes for work in the gym and his key fob was broke.
He had been trying to get the attention of a man inside that could clearly see him, but pretended otherwise. Keep in mind, it’s a SMALL gym with no where to hide. He was 100% being ignored.
So when I let him in, he bolted to the showers to clean up and head to work, as he was now late.
But in passing the gentlemen that had been ignoring him, he said,
“Hey thanks for ignoring me! I’m late for work now, you could have at least come to the window so I could explain, I’m obviously not trying to rob you.” (his words verbatim)
I remember the tension I felt when it began, but thinking how angry I would have been
if someone ignored me and I was late. Anyone would be!
That’s when the real fight began.
The older gentlemen (72) wasn’t hearing it and as the intensity grew, so did the name calling.
They were all up in each other’s faces.
Sometime during the escalating threats and shoving is when I stepped in.
Let’s be honest. His anger at being locked out and not helped back in was justified.
It was 9am, in a very public area and in broad day light. Not a scary situation at all.
But the gym is the worst place to have a non-testosterone induced civil interaction.
So once I had them separated, the one guy hit the showers and that’s when the older gentelemen decided to unload on me, all his reasons for not letting him in. So loud he was. So loud.
I tried to explain if he could reverse the roles he would understand why the guy is angry.
But he wasn’t hearing it. He just got angry I wasn’t picking his side. Ugh.
After his 3rd time coming across the gym to vent, I finally gave him the best advice I could think of…
“Look sir, you need to let it go, forgive him what he said, say your sorry, you were afraid & you hope you didn’t mess his day up.”
He replied, “I’m 72 yrs old!!! I’m NOT saying I’m sorry and forgiving him, he called me a blankety-blank-blank this is his fault!!!”
I replied as respectfully as possible,
“You are older and wiser so maybe take that approach, say your sorry and y’all will both have a better day or you can have a bitter day and ruin yourself”
He still would NOT let it go.
SIDE NOTE: picture me out of breath and doing awkward cross-fit excercises during this conversation.
Finally… The conversation drew to an end when he replied,
“Forgive him, HA! Where’d you get that crazy idea from?!”
To which I said,
“Sir, you are talking to a guy who reads the Bible and gets advice from Jesus on this kinda stuff… so… ”
He smiled angrily, muddled some words under his breath and walked off.
I couldn’t believe I said that. But it’s true.
Forgiving someone in that moment is counter-everything that seems natural or what you probably see on a daily basis.
People are quick to anger.
But if Jesus is who I look to and want to be like… he doesn’t give a lot of options 🙂
So I thought it was all done until I went to get my keys to leave.
I specifically remember where I left them.
But yes… you guessed it.
I recall seeing him pacing around where my keys were as his wife sat in the running car waiting.
He came in and out a couple times… I thought maybe he wanted to say something but he didn’t.
15 min later, I go to get my keys and they are GONE!!!
I looked everywhere, but I knew exactly where they were.
I called the owner and continued looking around not wanting to believe the worst…
But 15 min later, said gentlemen of 72, pulls back up to the gym and brings me my keys back.
Hahahaha… I laugh typing this cause it feels like a citcom episode or something.
He said he felt bad, and didn’t mean to.
Hard to believe, as his car was outside RUNNING when he came back in and did all the pacing around.
But nevertheless, I told him no big deal and I’m just glad he realized he had them.
We shook hands and I told him to make the best of the day he had been given.
I said don’t waist it on this kinda stuff.
I could tell he had calmed down and seemed remorseful, but he just nodded, said he was sorry and left.
I don’t know what the rest of his day was like.
I do know his anger won, but what did it win him?
Right or Wrong… he chose to fight, defend, get angry and bitter…
What would have happened though, if before the guy left the gym, he went to him and said,
“Hey I’m sorry about that. I was afraid being in here. I should have let you in. I hope I didn’t make you too late for work.”
The fight would have been diffused and shut down.
He would have shortly after experienced the FREEDOM that comes with FORGIVENESS.
Both men had incredible power in that moment.
It’s the power we all have access to but forget about in the heat of a moment.
Responding in love. Offering forgiveness or asking to be forgiven.
Love and Forgiveness can accomplish so much more then hate, and in the end we find it was our own selves we were setting free.
“Yeah Casey, but that’s crazy, you don’t know what they did and what they deserve!”
You are right, I don’t. And I don’t put this into action near as often as I should.
I only know the power of what forgiveness can do.
And it is always an option. Hard to say and I pray I’m not tested in typing that 😉
But I learned a lot watching that fight go down.
His response has been my own too many times, and just like him, I lock myself in chains of anger and bitterness.
My prayer is that I won’t just forgive, but forgive quickly.
Seems appropriate, seeing how I stand loved and forgiven right where I am.