Wednesday, April 2, 2008

One Sorry Tomato

I read a great book, Me, Myself and Bob, by Phil Vischer, the brilliant mind behind VeggieTales. When I first took note of the talking vegetables in the 90's, I was proud that something so original had come out of the Christian community, and it was so groundbreaking that a few years later, a secular knock-off of our sanctified veggies came out, and failed. Usually, it is the other way around, but not this time. And that was exactly what Phil set out to do, something original and wholesome for kids. Not only could you buy VeggieTales videos in Bible bookstores, but eventually in Target and Wal-Mart as well. I never wondered how the national chain distribution of the videos came about. To me, it was just product that appeared on the shelf as far as I was concerned. Little did the common man know that behind the scenes, and surrounding the release of their first major motion picture, "Jonah," Bob and Larry were about to get pureed. Phil sets you up in the preface of the book. Something's coming and Phil takes you on that ride. Lest I reveal too much more, I'll get to my point. I was on, reading a review by another reader. This person said at the end of the book, Phil apologizes, "but not quite enough." Hmmm. I read the chapter where he apologizes and from my perspective, Phil didn't blame the collapse of Big idea productions on anyone but himself. He felt completely responsible. He writes, "For the record, I'm sorry... I'm really, really sorry." So I beg the question: How many times does someone have to say they're sorry before they are perceived as really being sorry? And how many times does someone have to say they're sorry before being forgiven? We tend to treat forgiveness as merchandise that has to be paid for before it is given, in singles: "One I'm sorry, two I'm sorry's, three I'm sorry's..." Until the proper amount has been forked over. Only then will the possessor of forgiveness give it to the buyer. And is someone required to ask for forgiveness as a pre-requisite for being pardoned? "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy seven times,' " (Matthew 18: 21-22). In this passage, there's not even a mention of someone apologizing for the wrong they've done. There is only mention of forgiveness being given. How many "I'm sorry's" did that reviewer need from Phil? And did that reviewer even work for him and were they directly affected by the demise of Big idea? I'm discovering the freedom there is in not demanding people to apologize before I offer forgiveness. There's even more freedom in not mustering up the feeling of being wronged and expecting the offender to then act in a certain way when we can't control their behavior, as much as we want to, or anybody else's  for the rest of our lives. How many times have I demanded an apology before I forgave someone, the whole while entrapping myself in bitterness because of my formula for forgiving someone. I'm not buying into the "Love Story" philosophy, that love means never having to say you're sorry, because I know I'm going to have to say those words multiple times in my lifetime, but I'll be healthier if I can learn to forgive before someone asks to be forgiven, better yet, if I work on not being unnecessarily offended in the first place.  

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