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  • Writer's pictureSusan Lawson


Updated: Jan 14, 2023


One of the first, most memorable times of forgiveness that was extended to me happened when John returned from a deployment in 2004.

We were a one-income family with five kids living at home. While he was away on this particular deployment, I was working hard to update our home as best I could on a very limited budget. The last item on my list of things to do was purchase a new entertainment stand for the ridiculously heavy television we owned at the time. It was the final touch for my work. It was an expensive item and we normally would have discussed it before deciding to purchase it, but I took the chance and bought it without any discussion because I really wanted to surprise him when he returned.

It was one of those pressed wood Sauder pieces. It had to be assembled and it was stupid heavy. My son-in-law helped put it together, working until well past midnight to get it done for me. Once it was complete, we lifted the dinosaur television only discover that it would not fit. My heart was shattered. I had spent so much money on this piece; I had measured everything correctly, or so I thought, how could this have happened? The only thing I could do was disassemble it and return it to the store for a refund. I would have to start over. We took it apart, boxed it up, and loaded it in the van so I could return it the next day.

Sauder furniture is non-returnable. I had failed to see that fine print on the receipt, and no one had bothered to tell me that when I purchased it. I was stuck with an entertainment center that wouldn’t work and out the money that I’d spent on it. How was I going to explain this to my sweet husband who worked so hard and sacrificed so much so I could be at home raising our kids the way we’d always wanted? I had squandered money that didn’t come easily, and I couldn’t do anything to redeem the loss.

That was a night in my life I remember tossing and turning, worrying and crying about how he’d react to a dumb decision on my part. He would be justified in being angry and disappointed. I needed to tell him sooner rather than later because there would be no rest for my conscience until I did.

So the next phone call I got from him I told him everything. I apologized and told him how awful I felt. I anticipated some anger, or at the very least some frustration. But that’s not what I received. I know that this seems very simple and insignificant, but the forgiveness and kindness that he extended to me was a balm to my broken heart.

He said, “Don’t worry about it, everyone makes mistakes. It’s not a big deal, we’ll see what we can do with it.”

Relief, that’s what I felt. The burden that I placed on myself fell off my shoulders and it was replaced with a tenderness that I’ll never forget. I was human, I’d make a mistake, and it was okay.

This is an example of what I mean when I say ordinary life, extraordinary love. John's forgiveness came in the midst of a very ordinary life event, but was received as extraordinary act of love as far as my heart was concerned.

Mother Teresa is given credit for the saying, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

My life, and probably yours, is very ordinary. I will probably never do great things by the world's standards, but what I do, can be done with great love. Everything we do in the course of our ordinary lives can be an outward expression of extraordinary love. Whether it's in service to others, encounters with strangers throughout our days, on the road, or simply caring for our families and our homes, we can love in ways that feel extraordinary to those on the receiving end of it.

I would love for you to join me in conversation about what that looks like in our daily lives.

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