To Forgive & Forget: On Grace

One of my oldest friends is named Grace.

She is possibly one of the most sincere, most joyful people I’ve been blessed to do life with. She lived with my family for a bit when both she and I were facing tough times with respective mental health issues. A few months after, she married the love of her life on the most beautiful day in January there ever was in Texas.

Grace knows how to give and receive grace. She knows how to love and be loved in this generous, radical way that can only come from Above. While she lived with us, I was closed off, empty, cold. I didn’t talk much, I rarely interacted. I slept through saying a farewell to her when she moved out.

But she gave me grace. She saw me in my darkest (most depressive) hour. She knew my hurt at a personal level. She acknowledged that I was created by God, for God, and made sure my suffering did not damage our friendship.

I love God’s grace — but I rarely ask to receive it.

In Matthew 7, Christ says, “Knock and the door will be open to you.” He implies that when we ask for righteous things inspired by God and intended to spread goodness, He responds to our requests with a delight to give.

I struggle with perfectionism — you might not think this is an actual issue, that it’s a good thing to be driven and to have goals, but it’s different for me. It’s more than ambition and excelling others’ expectations.

It’s a constant need to please man over God. It’s an intense craving to receive affirmation from those I most respect. It’s an addiction to approval, acceptance and awards — at work, at home and in everyday life. It’s a desire to be the Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, Serena Williams of everything I do — what I wear, say, eat and think.

It’s impossible for me to give grace when I cannot accept it as a gift.

Lately, I am broken to pieces — several friendships ripped me apart from the inside-out. People called me mean things, so I said them back. People didn’t accept me as I am, so I returned the favor. Ultimately, people did not want to be my friend, so I ran — I shut down, I fled, I holed myself up in my room for days at a time.

I wept. On my knees. In my room. In the dark. Alone.

I mourned people I once thought I knew, people I treasured, people who loved me. I felt physical aches — in my head, because of my confusion, in my heart, because of the weight of my suffering. I let tears fall from my eyes, roll onto my shoulders, stain my prayer journal. It was a dark, lonely hour.

God calls me to forgive, He begs me to forget.

Christ entered the world to reconcile sinful, dark, self-absorbed people to a righteous, selfless God full of Light. He came, died and rose so we measly men can experience the fullness of peace that transcends all understanding {Phil. 4:7}.

How wonderful, how radical, how amazing is He — He that would give up all that He has so that people who deserve nothing can receive everything?

When I harbor bitterness, resent and contempt in my heart toward God’s children, I do not reflect the Love of the Savior — I emulate the wrong that others have done against me. I side with the Betrayer, fueling my will into a weapon against the Kingdom.

When I offer my heart to give forth unconditional love, utter kindness, ever faithfulness, I reflect the Great Redeemer who is the very best friend anyone can have. God sent His son to redeem — to make right — the darkness of our nature, the deceit we innately live in.

I pray to receive grace, and I pray to give grace.

It is humbling to say, “Father, I need you. Father, I sinned. Father, I am nothing without you — give me grace,” at the end of the day. To lay my sins bare as if I physically kneel before my Savior on the cross. To accept Christ’s atonement for my daily wanderings from righteousness.

It is heart-wrenching to approach a friend and say, “Friend, I love you. Friend, you wronged me. Friend, I cannot be me without you. Here is grace,” whenever they wrong me. To see their utter remorse, to listen to their apologies, to mutually grieve our unkind actions.

It isn’t easy. It isn’t natural. And honestly, I still don’t fully understand how to do either. But God calls me to do both. He says, “You are a creature made to love and be loved. You crave to be known. You are known by me, known by others and you are able to know my children in return.”

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