With it being a new year, I’ve done as most of you have done and reflected on what I want to change and resolve to do better in 2012. I am in the middle of reading the book, Forgiving and Reconciling
by Everett Worthington and it is challenging me on my view and practice of not just forgiveness, but also of grace.
The author has the reader write out answers to several questions and one is, “Think of three people who showed forgiveness to you,” because understanding how it feels to be forgiven is part of what is necessary to offer forgiveness.
Here’s the first story that came to my mind:
Back when I was in third grade, I told my mom an elaborate story about going on a field trip to the local middle school. I also told her that my class had a big snowball fight outside the middle school and that my teacher even got a snowball thrown at her ear, which she simply laughed off.
My mother talked with my teacher about this “fieldtrip” at the next parent/teacher conference. (Oops!) When my teacher set her straight on my “story,” she came home and was furious with me. But my father didn’t seem to be upset with me.
I’ve looked back on that time with thankfulness that my dad didn’t rip into me. But I always felt like he kind of offered me …
… a grace that shouldn’t have been given in the first place.
Now, as I look back on it, I feel like he truly gave me the kind of “grace” that Jesus modeled. I didn’t deserve my dad’s grace, but he offered it anyway.
I’m not saying that I shouldn’t have been punished, because I don’t remember what the punishment was, but I’m sure they punished me! It just meant that he forgave me. And maybe, he understood how I felt and had compassion on me.
At that time, I told my mom the reason I made up a “story” was because I didn’t have exciting stories to tell her like my much older brother and sister did. I think I wanted to jazz up my life or at least the “story of my life.” I had no other reason for doing it. It wasn’t so that I could get out of trouble for doing something wrong. It simply was wishful thinking that bled over into my reality.
Maybe my dad could see that. Maybe he knew I didn’t have sinister motives. But even if that wasn’t part of his reasoning …
It was a nice and comforting gift that he gave me.
I don’t think I gave him full credit for that grace until today. I think I’ve lived with the belief that my mom’s judgment was more just and true and have lived my life and mothering in the same way. I don’t want to live that way anymore.
I want my life to mirror the reality that is Christ, where grace trumps justice.
Pray for me as I endeavor to be more gracious, more forgiving in not just my marriage, but all areas of my life. It’s not going to be easy. But I know that if I live this way, it can be my best year yet!
Photo by far closer (Flickr)
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