Not too very long ago, I was given the opportunity to make a choice, whether or not to extend grace toward another human being. On the surface that seems like a simple, no-brainer choice.
In this case the history of the relationship made it much more difficult.
This was a person who had betrayed my trust and destroyed my self-confidence years ago. It was not the typical “difficult person” scenario. Instead it was a long history of harsh, destructive words, unspeakable actions, and scheming psychological wreckage. I had to rebuild self-worth from the basement up.
And now, he held the strings of my development…my moving on…in his hands.
That’s what made this opportunity a gift all by itself.
How big that gift could become depended solely on me.
Put this story on pause for a minute and think about it. Doesn’t that sound backwards? Doesn’t it appear to be contradictory logic? Doesn’t it even seem to be unfair?
Well, maybe not… at least not from what I believe to be God’s particular perspective on this subject.
I spent many subsequent years thinking about grace, God’s purpose in trials and tragedies, and the healing act of true redemption. I had been working on this through God’s word and so I knew this was a pivotal moment in that healing.
Be careful what you pray for.
Ready or not, God will give us opportunities to grow in faith.
He grows us bit by bit…from baby steps to giant ones that require a leap in faith in order to leap in spiritual maturity. I have found that sometimes He fast forwards that process in the MOST uncomfortable ways.
I marvel at the many times I have resisted by saying…”Really? Now?” “I’m not ready.” “It’s too much!” “Again?” “No, not again?”
Sometimes I picture Him looking at me and thinking…”You need to speed up your game, Linda.” And then as He lobs a really BIG ONE right at me, I imagine Him smiling as He shouts, “THINK FAST!”
Showing grace to someone else is an opportunity we choose for ourselves.
And sometimes it’s not easy.
When we open ourselves up to being the one who offers grace, we also increase our chances to be renewed and strengthened exponentially by His love.
I’m not talking about the times where a flip of the coin randomly puts us on the side of GIVING instead of RECEIVING. Those are the truly easy times of grace giving. They are the baby steps in grace growth.
I’m talking about the times when we confront the extreme and awful pain that someone has caused us in the past and in spite of feeling that pain all over again when we cross paths with that person, we rise from those pitiful ashes and do something good for our persecutor.
When we offer that gift we gain the opportunity to experience the feeling of being victorious rather than being the victim.
That is a powerful, redemptive feeling and it is nothing short of a miracle.
That is the feeling of victory over a certain kind of death.
This is the counter-intuitive action where we must die in order to grow.
We must die to the powers of stored anger, regret, revenge, jealousy, discontent, greed, injustice.
We must give those up. And that is hard.
We may have been holding on to those feelings as if they were our life line in the rough sea of life’s injustices.
We may even have defined ourselves by those losses and those frailties.
We could slay dragons with our tongues!
We may have done that very thing in the past.
We could lay low the king of the mountain with just one well-timed word, just one well-played defense.
But any satisfaction we may derive from evening the score will be short-lived.
What good would that do us in the long run? After all, aren’t we in it for the long game?
And this is one of the most important “long games” we will ever play in life.
Every time we give up our own need for revenge or evening the score, we gain the opportunity to rise above the fray.
We rise when we calmly confront lies.
We rise when we let the potential destruction wash over us and not touch our tender places.
We rise to it all when we resist the very tempting path of vengeful words or actions.
This is the development that will enrich our souls. This is it in terms of moving on!
On that day, a while back, I made the choice to look with new eyes on my antagonist, see him as a fellow human being, on his own life’s journey. For a moment, I could see in his eyes a flicker of regret, sorrow, and a question.
I saw that moment as an opportunity to do what I would have by nature done for any other human being.
I took a deep breath and opened the door of grace.
The details are not important…only the outcome.
What I did next came from a place of strength and peace, and the surety of the redeeming goodness of grace.
2 thoughts on “A Backwards Blessing”
Beautiful truths, Linda! I’m currently in a somewhat similar type of struggle. Forgiveness and grace can be so hard! It becomes more of a journey with progress followed by faltering. Your words here will become a part of my daily meditation. Bless you, friend,Mary Beth
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I hear you. I seem to be “working”on this frequently. I think it is a daily need for me.