Monday, January 30, 2012

The Gift of Grace, part 2

On Friday, we discussed giving the gift of grace to strangers we "meet" in the media. Today, we focus on giving grace to those we know personally.

Another cancellation? It was almost laughable. One of my best friends and I have weekly lunch dates, every Friday. In December with school parties and the 2 weeks of Christmas break, we hadn't had a chance to see each other.

Then came January. She went out of town for a long weekend. I had to cancel when an appointment was unexpectedly rescheduled. Then she had a sick child. We had good spirits about the whole thing, laughing as the next cancellation came, more expected now than not.  Neither of us ever considered that the other had any motive other than to get together, but life happens.

This is a sharp contract to another friendship I had several years back. Again, in December, I knew my schedule would busy, so I emailed the friend to explain to her I wouldn't be able to get together much that month. Imagine my shock when I received a response saying, "If you want to end the friendship just say so, don't make excuses." Of course I emailed back apologizing! However, soon after came another email and another, every time assuming the worst about me or my intentions.

My "friend" had experienced a childhood filled with rejection. And so in adulthood, she expected it.  And she expected it so strongly that she went looking for it, and accusing of it at every turn. Not surprisingly she often found rejection because of her actions. Those actions, the coping mechanisms that protected her in a sad childhood, hindered her in her adult life.

I tried extending grace to her in spite of her actions and accusations, but she couldn't extend any grace my way, sure that every action had an ulterior motive. Finally I realized that perhaps the most graceful thing to do was to exit the relationship. (On Wednesday we'll talk more about what happens when relationships fail in spite of grace.)

But today, I'm glad that my dear friend who I missed seeing all of December, and most of January this year, believes the best about me. She gives me the gift of grace, as I do her. We may let each other down at times, because we are human. But because we extend grace, there is always forgiveness.

Are you extending grace in your relationships?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Chatty Kelly


Kari Scare said...

I sure try to extend grace in my relationships. When I get tired, busy, hungry, etc. I'm not so good at it. My husband and I try to keep each other in check though. I like this personal story as a way to discuss this issue... it comes at an appropriate time when I am trying to counsel a friend.

Kathryn Bruce Hughey said...

I have just recently started following your blog, and Grace seems to be the big thing God is dealing with me. Well, my LACK of grace for others. Since becoming a mom, I find I have much more grace for parents and kids. However, I fail miserably in so many other ways, but your posts on grace have really brought it to the forefront, and stays in the back of my mind daily when I am out and about. Yesterday was one of those days. I was at the grocery store, and the checker was bagging my groceries. I try very had to bag them myself, but this girl seemed to know what she was doing, so I did not rush to bag. Unfortunately, she did NOT know what she was doing and my groceries were bagged "wrong", and I was incredibly irritated. As time wore on, I began to realize that she was new, and she was incredibly flustered. I realized how little grace I had for her, and that she probably realized how annoyed I was. I began to get convicted, and horrified by my attitude, though I had not said anything. By the time she was done, I was all smiles again and was able to thank her and wish her a good day. It seems ridiculous to be so particular about how I want my groceries bagged, but there it is. One more moment when God is refining me, so that He can be glorified in my life. Thanks for the posts on grace, they have truly begun to change my way of interacting with those around me.

Kelly Combs said...

Thank you for sharing this Kathryn. I am so delighted that my blog post spoke to you. God is the great refiner and I know he was glorified by your change of heart.

Kelly Combs said...

You named it Kari. Tired, busy, hungry are all the warning signs in my life too. Good luck and God bless in counseling your friend.