I meant to write about this last week…the day after I wrote about Grace in Marriage. Life happened.
I am sad over the loss of another beautiful soul to a battle with cancer. An artist and encourager, gone at age 31. I wouldn’t say we were close, and it might be a stretch to say we were anything other than acquaintances, but we did have a shared history and I feel the hole where her voice has departed from us. I never did tell her how much she inspired me and how courageous I thought her to be. I meant to, and feel a pang of regret there. We always think there is time, but sometimes there is not. We have no way of knowing what tomorrow holds.
It seems important to follow up my last essay with a few more thoughts about grace in the context of conflict, which could easily be in marriage (holla, married folk) or any other relationship. What does grace look like when you’re at odds with someone you love? What does it look like when you feel hurt by the actions or words of another?
One photo a week of our family throughout the year. 37/52
The thing about grace is that no one deserves it but everyone needs it. If we wait to offer it until someone deserves it, we’re going to be waiting an awfully long time. I can think of a lot of wrongs that can never be made 100% right again after they’re done, and what of those? Is there no grace for those transgressions?
Looking at the life and ministry of Jesus, I see that grace is freely given to every last one of the people who acknowledged their need for it. Grace is a gift that should be freely given, if we identify at all with the example Jesus has set for us. Offering grace freely keeps us from being trapped in a prison of bitterness, because grace doled out looks something like hacking down the thorns of bitterness and tearing it up by the roots. If we can’t forgive, we can’t find freedom either.
Extending grace to someone who has hurt us might be as simple as quietly passing on the opportunity to say the first thing that comes to mind in a heated moment. It might look like treating the other person with respect that speaks to the value of their personhood, even if we do not otherwise esteem or look up to them. Giving grace might be a commitment to speaking with a civil tone and edifying words, or listening with an open heart instead of through a filter that vilifies the other party.
In all of this, I have to point out that giving grace to someone who has hurt us does not mean that broken trust is immediately restored, if it is ever restored. While grace is freely given, trust is earned. Every ounce of trust is painstakingly earned by consistency, commitment, honesty, vulnerability and good will. I’m sure a number of other things could be added to that list. Rebuilding broken trust is serious business. One must discern through prayer how to proceed in a healing process such as this.
Trust in relationship is a fluid and ever-changing thing. With every relationship, we build trust by our attentiveness, transparency, flexibility, and connection, or we break it with secrecy, disengagement, insensitivity, and pride. Trust can be fragile. It’s one of those things we have to build on purpose…and something that we can shatter in an instant. May you be a trust-builder, and a grace giver to those in your life.
I hope these thoughts helpful. Guard your heart and give grace freely. Both can be done at the same time.
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23 NASB
321. beautiful art, 322. the life and inspiration of a beautiful soul, 323. pancakes that make everything better, 324. heartaches that find peace, 325. playtime in the forest