Forgiveness…healing for the soul

One of the hardest things to do in life is ask another person for their forgiveness.  “I’m sorry” many times rolls off our tongues with ease.  But to ask for forgiveness is more than just saying you’re sorry.  It means acknowledging that you truly did something wrong to hurt another person and then you must humbly ask that person “will you forgive me for what I did or said?”

I became friends with Steve Stueck in December of 1978.  Like me, he was a “rookie” reporter at KOLN-TV in Lincoln.  “Sticker” and I had many of the same interests and we quickly became best friends.  We golfed together, played softball, basketball, poker…just two buddies the same age with many of the same passions who enjoyed hanging out.  We pushed each other to become better in our profession, broadcast journalism.  Nothing was off limits in our many discussions involving family, religion, politics, sports, careers, relationships, and of course the Huskers.  There were plenty of disagreements, arguments, and the inevitable “I told you so’s”…but those only strengthened our relationship.

One of the best vacations of my life, Sticker and his father invited Dad and me to join them for their annual Canada fishing trip.  Dad and I had always talked about taking such a trip, but it was Steve who made it happen…and it was a trip Dad and I reminisced about many times in the last couple years of his life.

Fishing TripCanada fishing trip. Jeff in green, Dad in straw hat and glasses.
Steve & Willie Stueck on the far right.

But after more than 18 years of friendship Sticker and I had a falling out in 1997.  I thought he was 80 percent at fault and when he didn’t respond to my gestures to repair the friendship, the split was complete and it stayed that way until two months ago.

After my diagnosis, I told Ken Siemek that on my return trip to Nebraska I would love to get our old foursome back together for a round of golf.  Kenny, Rob McCartney, Sticker, and myself.  I said to Ken, “I want to ask for Sticker’s forgiveness and let him know that I’ve never stopped loving him.”

A few days later, I got a very special one-page letter in the mail from Sticker.  It was obvious that both of us had a desire to repair what had been broken. Unbeknownst to me, Steve’s father had passed away from pancreatic cancer just over a year earlier.

In several long e-mail exchanges, we talked about the cause of our fractured friendship.  The core of the problem was something I had said and something I had left unsaid.  It was apparent that I had been the one at fault.  We both asked for each other’s forgiveness and in a subsequent two-hour phone call, our relationship had been repaired.

We played that round of golf on June 23rd in Lincoln.  I lost a dollar to Sticker on the course but gained so much more.  I know we’ll remain in regular contact with one another and it feels good knowing something which was broken has been fixed.  Forgiveness…it is indeed a powerful healing tool for the soul.

There are some positive aspects of having the big c…which will be a topic for a future blog.  Your perspective changes.  Relationships become more important. Righting your wrongs becomes more of a priority.  Money, status, ego…a host of things…start to take a back seat in life.

I have met way too many people who are filled with regret or guilt over not repairing a relationship after the person they had a falling out with has died.  It usually involves someone in their own family, many times a parent.

Most of the time, the hardest things to do in life are the most beneficial.  Asking for forgiveness is one of those things.  Try it sometime.  It will be good for your soul.

photoThis is what forgiveness looks like

Medical/Personal Update:

After my good news on Monday, our family got a big dose of bad news the next day.  My 85-year old mother, Vicki Schmahl, suffered a severe stroke and had to undergo emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from her brain.  Mom has made it through the critical 48-hour stage, but her left side is paralyzed and she will likely suffer from the effects of this stroke for the rest of her life.

Mom has been blessed with good health and a good life.  She is a woman of faith and her faithfulness to God, her family, and friends have never wavered.  When I called to tell her my good news on Monday night, she ended the conversation by saying, “I love you, Jeff, and Praise the Lord.”

My positive attitude is a direct reflection of her same outlook on life.  I Praise the Lord for being blessed with such a great mom.

Next Stop: Where have all the Leaders gone?