70 x 7.

i was always pretty good at math.

it’s probably helpful that my mom was a math teacher. when i was growing up, i would sit down with my math homework and it was like a puzzle. . .one i could solve. 

even in junior high, when letters started to be introduced and i could solve for x or y, i still was not defeated. 

but pre-calculus. that got me. 

i remember sitting in class during my sophomore year of college, staring at the whiteboard, completely mystified. i had reached my mental math capacity, it seemed. no matter how hard i tried, no more math was going in. 

some math is useful. some, despite what my teachers told me, i have yet to use in “real life.”

i don’t watch much tv [who has time?], but the other day i happened to catch a show titled “revenge.” 

anybody seen it?

as best i can summarize, it chronicles the path of revenge for a young woman whose father was murdered. she meticulously finds each person who was involved in the debacle in any way, shape, or form, and then proceeds, decades later, to make them pay. it’s quite a dark show. 

the scene that i happened to catch involved a conversation with one of her only friends and confidantes, someone who has been with her throughout her entire journey.

in this scene, the friend is looking back at the wreckage she has caused. in her search for justice, she has left quite the staggering arrangement of damage. many, many lives have been destroyed. the question posed to this young woman is: “when will it be enough?”

faced with the destruction that harboring such a serious grudge has caused, this young woman takes a moment to ponder. she has gone so long without forgiveness, how could she possibly let go now? in the end of the scene, she leaves behind the sobering counsel of her friend and continues on her path, despite the fact that she has not only ruined others lives, but her own as well.

how do math and a tv show fit together?

in the Bible, Jesus had some friends. one of them, a seemingly goody-two-shoes type, is talking with Jesus about forgiveness. he asks how many times a person should forgive somebody else. just for good measure, he tosses out the number 7, which i suppose is as good a number as any.

rather than be impressed by this guy’s benevolence, Jesus says, “well, actually, i was hoping for more like 70 times 7.”

[this comes from matthew chapter 18, verses 21 and 22].

that’s the kind of math that confounds my brain.

my mom texted me the other day about a situation that was really weighing her down. i asked her what she was going to do, and she said simply, “forgive.” 

then she made this statement: “i haven’t reached 490 yet.”

i didn’t get it.

then my math skills came flooding back. 

but i didn’t like it. 

similar to the character in the afore-mentioned tv show, i stubbornly refused. let go of resentment? simply choose to forgive, and move on? hardly. 

especially considering the fact that i will, more than likely, have to forgive all over again in just a few days. 

surely, Jesus must have been kidding.

but what is the alternative? can i really hold onto resentment and bitterness, seeking revenge, for two decades? or possibly even longer?

forgiveness is crazy. 

in my adult life, i have yet to encounter anything more challenging than forgiveness. perhaps that’s why it makes for a good tv show. because, really . . . how entertaining would it be to sit and watch a young woman let go of anger and forgive people who have wronged her, and then sit on her front porch and drink tea?

i doubt that would get many ratings.

because, it just doesn’t make sense. 

but that’s forgiveness. it doesn’t make sense. it’s not exactly a science, where one person’s wrongs equal another’s, and they cancel each other out. it’s more like an art, where one person chooses to pour brightly colored paint over black ink scribbles. 

and God, in a way that I will never understand, does that for me every single day. 

surely, more than 490. 

yesterday, today, tomorrow. 

that’s crazy.


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