Monday, November 10, 2014

Forgiving Kramer

If you know me well, you know I am a Jerry Seinfeld fan.

It all began back in the 90s.  Cheryl and I got into the routine of watching Seinfeld every Thursday night.  We looked forward to it.  We taped it on our VCR.

Then every Friday, while Cheryl was out teaching or doing something else, I’d drive home for lunch (hit rewind) and then watch it all over again.  I didn’t want to miss a single joke.  I wanted to be able to throw out funny quotes in the office or at church.

I know … it was kind of weird.

In 1998, Cheryl and I watched the show’s finale while we were living in Hawaii.  It was sad to see it go.  It wasn’t like losing an old friend, or anything close to that, but more like seeing a funny acquaintance move to another town.  We had enjoyed so many laughs together.

And then the Seinfeld DVDs started coming out.  Season 1.  Season 2.

We (or should I say “I”) started buying them and watching each episode all over again.  Hilarious!

Then something happened that sucked the joy right out of all things Seinfeld.  I didn’t think the jokes were funny anymore.  I didn’t want to see another minute of Jerry and the gang.  I stopped buying the DVDs.  I launched my own personal boycott of the show.

Because …

As you probably remember, in 2006 Michael Richards (the actor who played “Kramer”) lost his cool after being heckled in a comedy club.  He let loose a string of racially charged statements.  Really offensive stuff.  It’s all there on YouTube … over a million views.  In the days and weeks afterward, Richards made some public apologies, but I didn’t want to hear it.  What he had done was just too wrong.  Unforgivable.

I know.  It’s weird.  How can I be so angry at a guy I don’t even know?

How could I be so angry?

And now, 8 long years later, I find myself getting back into Jerry Seinfeld again.  I can’t help myself.

He’s started a web series called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.  In the show, he meets comedians, takes them for a drive in a car, and they get coffee together.  Genius!

And it is funny.  To me, at least.  Cheryl laughs way less hard than I do.

And one of Jerry’s guests on the show … drum roll … Michael Richards.  And I had to think about it--I’m not kidding--did I really want to watch that episode?

And I did want to watch it.

And there he was, “Kramer,” still expressing remorse for what happened all those years ago during his stand-up routine.

And there was this tiny “click” inside my head.  If you’d been sitting next to me, you might have heard it.  I thought, “Okay, I forgive this guy.  I forgive him for what he said.”

It was time to let go … to give grace.


And it is time to begin forgiving …

The guy I know who had an affair.

The person who lied to me.  

And to extend some forgiveness to myself too.  I’ve got a good bit of Kramer in me.  I need some of that grace.

How about you?  Any Kramers in your life?


One more thought …

In my mind, forgiveness is a lot like grieving.  It takes time.

It doesn’t have to be immediate.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  We all process it differently.

Give it as much time as you need.


  1. Mike, that is so truthful. I learned several years ago that until I am willing to forgive that bitterness and pain will steal my joy. We must follow the example of our Lord and forgive those who sin against us It is so refreshing and enjoyable to see your photo and read your message.

    1. Bitterness steals our joy. That's it exactly, Wanda. Thanks for sharing this!