I caught up with a good friend of mine recently, and she recounted what had been going on in her life since I had last spoken with her. As she told me about a traumatic accident that resulted in injury to her young son, I wondered in my heart. For unlike so many people I encounter, she was not bitter and angry, acting the victim or shaking her fist at God. Quite the opposite. There was a quiet peace within her spirit, and she pointed out the blessings she experienced throughout the ordeal. People rallied to her side, prayed with her, cared for her. (And her son will be fine, praise God.)
When I asked if she was blaming herself at all for what had happened — just one of those weird, flukey accidents — she said she did struggle with occasional thoughts that crossed her mind. But what she said next really struck me:
How can I allow myself to think that way when I have been shown so much grace? If I “go there”, I am cheapening that grace.
And there you have it. Such a simple, yet profound thought. When we hold onto something, whether we are refusing to forgive someone else or our own selves, we are cheapening the grace given to us, by others but also by God.
Grace. Unearned, undeserved mercy and love and forgiveness and kindness. The ultimate example of this has been shown to us by Father God Himself, when He sent His only Son to suffer and die so that we might live. As recipients of that grace, we ought also to give grace to one another. And to ourselves.
The peace that God heaped upon my friend was palpable. The grace she had been given was undeniable. When I gently praised her for the gift she was giving to her son — a positive, faithful attitude that it was all going to be okay, that with God’s help “they’ve got this” — she shrugged and gave the glory to God. But then I pointed out to her that she has been obedient, trusting and accepting God’s plan, receiving and passing on His grace.
For you see, the choice is ours — whether to be bitter and angry, acting the victim and shaking a fist at God, OR to obediently choose His grace and peace, trusting and accepting God’s plan, and passing on His grace to others and to our own selves.
So how will we choose to live our lives? Cheapening the grace shown to us? Or accepting that grace as a treasured gift, heaping it upon those around us, and taking it in as a balm for our wounded, worried souls?
Trust me, you want to choose “door number 2”. For I have seen the quiet peace and beauty of a woman who has done just that in the midst of extreme hardship. And it is a wondrous thing.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:10