The Christmas holidays are the times families come together and share meals, gifts and love towards one another. Every December, my sisters and I set aside a day to spend with one another and our families in Oklahoma. I always look forward to fellowshipping with my extended family and seeing how much my nieces and nephews have grown. This year our gathering was extra special because my oldest sister and Dad had experienced life threatening illness this year. It was a blessing that all of us could be together in one place. Celebrating Christmas with my sisters is never about the gifts we give one another, however my baby sister gave each one of us a memorable t-shirt quilt made from our mom and dad’s favorite t-shirts. What a wonderful family heirloom to cherish forever.
While driving to Oklahoma for our get together, my husband was enjoying the scenery and we were in deep conversation, so he forgot how fast he was going until he saw the red lights in the rear view mirror heading our way. He glanced at his dashboard and realized why the lights were flashing. His immediate response was “I just got me a big fat ticket for Christmas.” Thinking about the price tag of the violation, I told him to think positive, after all we had just been listening to a sermon by Joel Osteen, who was reminding us that whatever we think in our minds will come to past. I immediately followed his statement with “it is Christmas, so he is going to let us go.” It turns out that God showed us favor and the officer returned to the car and said, “Because it’s Christmas, I’m going to give you a verbal warning.” Praise God! In other words, he was going to forgive my hubby for driving beyond the speed limit and let bygones be bygones!
Bygone is a term that means “Allow the unpleasant things that have happened in the past to be forgotten.” According to The Phrase Finder site (englishblog.com), William Shakespeare first used the term in his play, The Winter’s Tale in the year 1611. Later in 1936, Scottish churchman Samuel Rutherford wrote the phrase in a letter to acknowledge his debt to God for past behaviors. "Pray that byegones betwixt me and my Lord may be byegones." The term is used often and refers to past events that were unpleasant such as quarrels or debts.
Over the course of my life I have experienced many quarrels and debts that have left me angry and frustrated. Now when I look back even though I remember what happened, the events don’t have the same effect on me as they did in the past. There are people I am no longer angry at, there are wounds that have healed and I can have conversations with them as though nothing has happened. Why remain in the past, continuing to be a victim and allowing whatever happened to make me miserable in the present?
Here are 5 ways to let bygones be bygones.
1. Quit thinking about how you were wronged –The more you dwell on something and complain the worse your story gets. Soon you will develop righteous indignation telling others about how someone has wronged you.2 Corinthians 2:10-11 (CEV) says: I will forgive anyone you forgive. Yes, for your sake and with Christ as my witness, I have forgiven whatever needed to be forgiven. I have done this to keep Satan from getting the better of us. We all know what goes on in his mind.”
2. Admit your responsibility and your wrongs – Many times we get so caught up in making the situation the other person’s fault that we forget that it take two to tango. Step back and look at the situation and realize where you have contributed to the problem. Proverbs 28:13 (CEV) – “If you don’t confess your sins, you will be a failure. But God will be merciful if you confess your sins and give them up.”
3. Move on – Just let it go. In other words move on. If you really stop and think about what the argument or quarrel was about it the first place, it’s probably not worth it. Isaiah 43:18-19 – “Forget what happened long ago! Don’t think about the past. I am creating something new. There it is! Don’t you see it? I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands.”
4. Make the deliberate choice to demonstrate love - Life is too short to hold grudges for years and years. When we show love towards one another, it is easier to forgive and move one. I Peter 4:8 (CEV) reminds us, “Most important of all, you must sincerely love each other, because love wipes away many sins. In any relationship whether it is a spouse, a sibling, a friend, a coworker or even church member, because we are all different we are going to experience conflict and disagreements. However if we show Godly love for one another we can continue to show love even though we may not always agree.
5. Remember God has forgiven you – My sins against God are many, and if He can forgive me for the wrongs I have done, surely I should consider forgiving others. Ephesians 4:31-32 (CEV) says: “Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.”
So I have said all of this to say, it’s Christmas... Show up at your Christmas gatherings with the gift of peace. Remember to let your bygones be bygones!
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach