I got my feelings hurt.
It was something small and unintentional by the offending party. However, past grievances mixed with a new one created a nasty battle in my heart. The offender went about their day unmoved and unaware while I festered…
Then I saw something at my church. From across the room, a man had his arms around his father in an embrace. I don’t know the whole story, but judging by the part of the story that I do know, the father does not deserve to be embraced by his son. And the scene moved me. The son ended the embrace with a man pat, and moved away. And immediately, I thought one word, “grace.”
If this man can have grace for a father who doesn’t deserve it, what is my problem? Why am I wasting my time in resentment and frustration toward someone who doesn’t even know they’ve hurt me?
Here’s the deal with grace…it’s not deserved. It’s often unmerited. It doesn’t make sense. And it requires some work…and by some work, I mean a lot of work. And by a lot of work, I mean prayer. A boat load of it.
This morning, I begged God,
Make me a grace-filled person. Fill me with compassion for those who hurt, who don’t know they are hurting. Give me peace to forbear the little things. Don’t allow bitterness, even below the surface to envelop my heart and fill it with weeds. Let me see people the way you do, not as creatures who should tip toe around me and my fragile feelings. Oh God, fill me with grace.
Here’s the thing…
When we choose the path contrary to grace, the first casualty is US. Bitterness eats away at our hearts like a cancer. And in a flash, we are different, haggard by pain we refused to let go of or deal with, and eventually passing that hurt along to those we love. It’s a nasty cycle, and one that is not easy to be free of.
So I asked myself, and I ask you…are you an extender or an expecter?
Are we extending love and grace to those who don’t quite treat us the way we want to be treated (as if there is one universal way to be treated)?
Do we expect the world to cater to our every demand, feeling, or whim?
Are we extending forgiveness to those who hurt us with an ever present knowledge that we are being forgiven ourselves, for untold grievances toward others?
Do we expect that we are the only ones who get hurt?
Are we extending understanding as we realize that everyone we know and meet is on their own journey, different from our’s, with unique strengths and weaknesses?
Do we expect everyone to be at the same place we are? In other words, do we expect perfection from others?
Feelings are a tough thing. On the one hand, feelings are legitimate. On the other hand, we can be destroyed by our feelings.
Yes, what we feel is real and cannot be undone, HOWEVER, it’s what I choose to do with my feelings that makes the difference.
Grace is realizing, that we don’t always see the whole picture…
But grace takes the time…to look at the person behind the offense, to see a friend, a spouse, a child, a parent, and see the whole story. Grace puts pieces back together in forgiveness…because.
It’s worth it.
It just is.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.