Someone I know well, whom I will call Meryl, has more than once said mean, hurtful things to me. She's the type of person who, when stressed and under pressure, buckles and starts lashing out because it feels like everything is falling down around her.
Recently, Meryl assumed I had done something to hurt her when it was in fact an oversight. Well, regardless of what it was, she told me this, and I was angry. It was an honest mistake. I wasn't trying to do any harm or disrespect.
So, I got mad. I vented to my husband via text. I start thinking of all the things I wanted to say but hadn't out of restraint. I thought of all the ways I was right and all of the ways she was wrong.
The next day, she apologized, saying that she was wrong, that she knew I had just made an honest mistake, and it was poor character for her to say those things.
Boy, did I feel guilty. I told her something along the lines of, "It's okay. I understand." Then, Meryl told me how compassionate I was for being so understanding.
In reality, I hadn't been compassionate. I hadn't been understanding. Even though I hadn't said one wrong word to her, it didn't matter. Even though I had apologized for my mistake when she first brought it up, I still don't deserve a gold star. Because my heart wasn't in the right place.
If anything, she was the one who deserved a gold star. To humble one's self to apologize as specifically as she did is not an easy task.
Then it hit me. Grace starts now. It starts before the person has wronged you, before your offender has apologized. Grace began before Jesus died on the cross, before Adam bit into the forbidden fruit. It starts in me, even if I saw all the right words.
And if grace has been happening for so long, it needs to start now. With me. I don't have an excuse to withhold it. God didn't withhold grace from me. I have no legitimate reason to not be graceful with someone else.
So, God, help me to live out the words you have given me: "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12).
Soli Deo Gloria.
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