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Dents in a Tahoe … The Final Draft.

Can you remember a time when someone hurt you, lacked sensitivity or acted mean to you?

Have you EVER needed to practice forgiveness?

Madam Contest Master, fellow Toastmasters and guests; forgiveness can change your world.

My world includes my wife, 5 children, a dog, cat and a little bird named Griffin.

When you have a family that large you become practiced in forgiveness.

For example, we once had a tree fall in our yard. I decided to make the clean-up a family project by taking all the kids outside. Being a man, I was focused, getting the job done and lost complete track of the children. I must have taken a break as I noticed it was quiet.

If you know children you know that quiet that the quiet is about to end. Whack. Whack.

The noise was coming from the garage; the garage where I last saw the love of my life; my beloved BRAND NEW Z71 off road Tahoe.

I rounded the corner to find my son Caden, then 2, in the garage, with a hammer and a Tahoe.

Agghh!!! My baby!

Don’t worry; I remembered our families rule for split milk: We always say “1st spill of the day”. Quick forgiveness from an adult to a child is important.

Having 5 children has taught me to say “1st car dent” of the day.

Maybe you and I are the same. At my home it’s normally me that needs forgiveness. I remember a time; my wife had been running behind MY intended schedule for getting the kids to school. Rather than waiting patiently (or perhaps stepping in to help) …

I decided to do what I do best: I spoke.

This time I speculated aloud about how many total minutes she could save if she would just use MY system for planning. My calculations did not impress her.

Do you think my wife forgives me too quickly? She’s been doing that since our wedding day.

Not being in Toastmasters at that time I wrote my lines on a card. … I Dale Suslick, do take you, Dale Suslick, to love, honor … ugggh … I wrote my name on the card.

People close to you can inspire you to practice forgiveness.

Fellow Toastmasters, you all agree that this world needs more forgiveness, right? Right?!

Yet what do some people do?

Some people, including me, say when they ask for forgiveness, I’ll give it.

That it doesn’t matter; time heals all wounds.

IF I forgive, they’ll just do it again.

When all that happens then I’ll forgive. How is that working out for you?

I’ve discovered people normally don’t come to me asking forgiveness. Time does it really heal?

And yes, when you forgive, people do it again. My wife is here today; you can ask her how often she forgives me.

Before I understood the power of forgiveness I would go to my mentor and complain to him about the people that would drive me to my wits end. His response one day was so what Dale. What have you done this week that required forgiveness?

How could I argue with that? My mentor reminded me that even I can hurt others, lack sensitivity and can be downright mean some days.

My mentor went on to tell me a 2000 year old story about a speck and this log. He told me I had a log in my eye. The log is all the issues in my life that I need forgiveness on. I couldn’t see. Yet, from across the room, usually while watching ESPN, I see an itsy bitsy, teeny, tiny speck of dust in another person’s eye. Just my approach would bring people pain as I try to “help” them with their speck instead of worrying about the log in my eye.

My mentor reminded me that I am forgiven of more than I normally will forgive others for.

You’ll find that forgiveness always has a cost. I remember this principle from a story that shook me to the core of my being.

In 1997, Charles Robert lost his daughter. Charles chose revenge instead of forgiveness as the world watched in horror when he opened fire inside an Amish school house; Taking his life and the life of 5 school girls.

I have 4 daughters. I don’t want to imagine the pain.
Wait. What happened next amazed the world. The Amish families attended the gunman’s funeral; giving support, money and forgiveness to the widow’s family; so she could move on in the wake of the tragic event.

***Wow. What a story of Grace.

I believe the Amish know a secret.

That forgiveness is like chicken soup for the soul. Good for whatever ails you.

Whether it’s the daily aggravation your family can bring you to extreme situations like the Amish.

Forgiveness makes you feel better all over. You forgive others to help you.

Before I go, if you ever need a reminder to practice forgiveness go out to the parking lot of any Toastmaster meeting you find me at. There you’ll find my beloved black Z71 off road Tahoe with a row of hammer dents along the drive side door.

Yes, I left those “Dents in a Tahoe” because I need a constant reminder to practice forgiveness.

Fellow Toastmasters, I want each and every one of you to remember those “Dent’s in a Tahoe” the next time you’re driven to your wits end.

Then practice forgiveness. Madam Contest Master.

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