If You Want To Be Free, Forgive

📅 March 1, 2020

Annabelle was awake long before the alarm went off. She couldn’t remember the last time she had slept through an entire night without jolting awake with annoying thoughts. Every night when she lay down, she hoped for the best, but when she finally drifted off, nightmares plagued her.  Every morning she awoke feeling exhausted, frustrated and unable to face the day with any measure of hope or strength.

She reached over and turned on the lamp.  There was Zelda’s picture, leering at her from her nightstand. 

She stumbled to the kitchen and reached for the coffee pot.  As she scooped the coffee into the filter, she asked herself as she did every morning, “How did I end up like this?”

She peered down at the stack of articles she’d printed off the internet the night before.  Whether the headline was “Zelda Quigley Welcomes Mayor” or “Quigley Sets New Record” or “Zelda Quigley to Speak to Congressional Committee,” they all screamed the same message to Annabelle.

“Zelda Stole My Job.”   

It wasn’t fair.  Annabelle had worked hard to get to where she was.  She had arrived at work early, stayed late and even worked on Saturdays. But when Zelda arrived, everything changed. Fancy degree from an Ivy League school or not, Zelda was no more qualified to be manager than Annabelle. But Zelda had two traits Annabelle did not: she was “connected” to someone at corporate headquarters and she didn’t mind stabbing people in the back.

As the coffee dripped into the pot, Annabelle dropped some bread into the toaster. She moved aside the pile of dishes Zelda had dirtied up the night before. Why did she put ketchup or butter on everything? Annabelle wondered, and why did she always leave a mess? Couldn’t she at least wash her own dishes? Does she have to take over my kitchen, too?

Annabelle placed the dishes in the sink and turned on the hot water. She didn’t want to wake Zelda just yet. Maybe she could have a few moments of peace at breakfast before—but she was wrong, as usual.    

Zelda, in her pink-flowered bathrobe and fuzzy slippers, came swishing down the hall. 

“Hello, Annabelle.  I would ask if you slept well, but I know you didn’t. I came in your room last night and watched you toss and turn for the longest time.”

“You came in my room?” Annabelle asked.

“Sure. What are you complaining about? You invited me to come live with you. My room is right next to yours. In fact, you know, I’ve been meaning to ask you: could I move into your room?  It’s much nicer than the guest room.”

“Move into my room?” Annabelle shouted. “Isn’t it enough that you took my job and became my boss?  Do you have to have everything that belongs to me?”

Well. . . .yes.”

Zelda took the cup of coffee from Annabelle’s hand, retrieved the toast and sat down to eat. Soon she would get in the passenger seat of Annabelle’s car and they would drive to work together.

Annabelle washed up the mess from the night before and placed another slice of bread in the toaster.  It was going to be another long day.

Is there a Zelda in your life? It may not be the person who bypassed you in the workplace. It might be the mate who traded you in for newer model. It might be the boss who micromanages you. It might be the parent who shoved you aside in favor of something or someone else. It might even be an institution.

Whatever or whoever it is: if you refuse to forgive, you’ve built a shrine in your heart to that person. You are devoting every waking moment (and many sleeping ones) to thoughts of that person or situation. He or She or The System might as well be a monarch on a throne to whom you bow each day and say, “Today, as every day, since you wronged me, I will give you first place in my life. You will occupy all my thoughts and influence my every move. Remain in the place I’ve built for you. Sleep in my bed. Eat my food.  Take the best of what I have to offer.”

It makes no sense and is not a good option.

Solution: This very day, decide to forgive. It won’t happen overnight.  It will take work and lots of it. And remember this, *forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.*


1) Pray this prayer: “Dear Lord, today I would like to begin the work of forgiving _____. It is totally beyond my power to do so. I am not willing, but I am willing to be made willing.”  Then pray for that person that God would have His will in his/her life. This is always a safe way to pray.

2)  Live peaceably. When you see the person, speak kindly. Inquire about his family. Smile.

3)  Be kind. Example: Next time you’re headed to the break room, ask The Person if you could bring anything back for him. 

4)  Look beyond the face. You have no idea what made The Person like she is. If you knew, you would understand more fully why she’s like she is. Excuse the behavior? No. But it might explain it.  

5)  Write the words of Ephesians 4:32 on a 4×6 card and display it where you can see it every day. Obey this verse alone and your life will change. Guaranteed.

Want to be free?  Then, whether he deserves it or not, whether she asks or not, Forgive.


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Holly Bebernitz

Native Texan Holly Bebernitz moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1967. After thirty years of teaching speech, English, and history on the secondary and college levels, she retired from classroom teaching to become a full-time grandmother. The change in schedule allowed the time needed to complete the novel she had begun writing in 1998. When Trevorode the Defender was published in March 2013, the author realized the story of the Magnolia Arms was not yet complete.


Semi-Finalist - 2021 Royal Palm Literary Award Competition - Florida Writer's Association