When your marriage ends some people in your life will take sides. Judgement will happen. And, at a time when you are already in extreme crisis, some of the people you thought would be most constant and true for you, sometimes without even waiting to sit with you and hear your pain, will turn their backs on you. When my marriage ended I experienced this from an older Christian person I once had tremendous respect for and who I saw socially over many years. I attended a small gathering in an intimate venue and this person would NOT acknowledge my presence, that whole day, with a smile or a nod or even a glance. Wow!
Before I go any further I also have to share that there were and are many people in my life who did not judge me and who were extremely supportive since that said time. I thank you all for your grace.
But it brings me back to the whole issue of grace. And how tiring grace can be. How are we to treat the people in our lives who hurt us? I know my first reaction to being hurt is pain, and it takes a long time for that pain to become ‘righteous’ indignation and anger. But when I am angry… Oh man! I construct a brain-full of bitingly clever and condemning things I would say to the person who caused my hurt (if I only had the opportunity) and I can dwell in that place of unforgiveness and angry self righteousness for days. Yep. Days. You would think this was the tiring part, not the grace. But the problem is, once the anger has run its course, the next stage for me is always the asking of the same question, “So what can be done to make me okay again?” And the answer is always – grace.
Now don’t go thinking I am some kind of saint or something because, in a weird kind of way, it is in the extending of grace and forgiveness that I become free. The issue or conflict stops being my problem and, at the point of my forgiveness, all responsibility for the matter is hand-balled to my opponent. On the surface it makes grace and forgiveness sound even kind of selfish.
But, equally, please don’t go thinking I am entirely selfish. Because grace and forgiveness are a constant thing. Just because I decide to forgive one day, doesn’t mean the hurtful act, or words, or lack of action, will not hurt me again tomorrow or sometime in the future, creating the need to forgive the same hurt again. And again.
I thought I would mix it up recently. I am so tired of grace. I found myself in a situation with a person, where the thought of extending grace (where favour was really not deserved) felt like a total waste of time and energy. So I thought I would just cut from the person completely. I knew I had to share it with a mutual friend so I told the mutual friend of my decision. He listened. Then he said, “You know what? That doesn’t sound like the woman whose heart I know. The woman I know would extend grace. You need to extend grace.”
And I know he is right. And I know this response will always be right. I know grace is where real healing can begin, even if complete restoration never happens. Even if trust and respect have been compromised forever. But I am so tired… Of grace.