This past year, I chose to host a Christmas table at our church holiday brunch. I decorated it with miniature plastic pine trees from home and borrowed battery-operated candles from the table next to mine (probably because the sweet lady saw how sparse my table was looking). It wasn’t fancy or formal, but it was fitting for our church ladies.
I was the host. I grabbed coffees and treats and offered a friendly welcome to all who circled around my centerpiece. A gal sat down beside me whom I’d never met before — Elizabeth. She was new, and I struck up a casual conversation with her. Even though we’d just met, we quickly realized we had many connections. She knew my mom years ago when they worked in the same field together finding homes for international college students.
Gradually, more women found their place at my table, and the introductions began. “What are you doing for the holidays? What are your favorite Christmas movies? How many children do you have?” Then my mom sat down beside Elizabeth. They began chatting and catching up on the years that had gone by. Before I knew it, I heard my mom say to Elizabeth, “You should give an announcement!”
What was my mom up to?
I saw her leap up and run over to the coordinator of our Christmas event. Elizabeth leaned over and whispered, “Your mom wants me to make an announcement about my business,” she said nervously. As the morning brunch ended, sure enough, the new visitor at our church, Elizabeth, was up on stage giving an announcement about her small business.
I packed up my fake Christmas trees, returned the borrowed lights, and walked out to my car with my box of stuff and my mom beside me. We reflected on the morning.
“I’ve been praying for ways to give Elizabeth grace for years,” my mom gleefully said. She went on to explain how when they had been in business together, Elizabeth had been unkind to her. She had spoken poorly about my mom, mistreated her, and lacked respect. Since then, like a kid on Christmas morning, she had been eagerly waiting for ways to bless her.
I left that morning completely undone by my mom’s actions. I am an author. I have grown a community of women whom I write for, encourage, and love — many of whom are right here in this (in)courage community. Essentially, I have built a platform. If there was an author who I knew had spoken poorly about me, disrespected me, or been downright mean, I’m not sure I would pray for ways to give her grace. I’m certain I would not give her my platform to use.
If someone hurts me, I am quick to wish harm upon them. I am tempted to return the pain they caused me by putting them down or lashing out in anger. I don’t pray for them. Praying blessing upon others (especially those who have hurt me) is incredibly hard. Praying for my enemy feels impossible, but it’s what changes my heart from bitterness to grace.
I think my mom was able to love this woman who had hurt her because she had prayed for her. My mom gave Elizabeth her platform to use. She used her connections and gave her a microphone to share about her small business. This is undeserved grace — which, I suppose, is the definition of grace, isn’t it?
Grace is an undeserved gift, but I have a tendency to reserve grace for the “good” people — you know, the people who, for the most part, are kind and easy. I hold back when it actually requires something of me and especially when I need to give it to those who have hurt me, betrayed me, and shamed me. Then it seems more like foolishness.
To give grace to my enemy is backward, but so are the ways of Christ.
Christ says things like, “The last shall be first, love your enemies, pray blessings upon those who have been against you.” We are all undeserving of grace. Yes, even the best of us don’t deserve the loving gift of God. The truth is there is no such thing as “the best of us.” We all fall miserably short.
So as this year unfolds, I want to release my mental list of who deserves grace and who doesn’t because we’re all desperate for it. I am praying for how to give grace to those who have hurt me and to see how I can lift others up. How can I give what I have (my platform, my home, my things) to be a means for grace? How can I love the way God does? We all need the grace of God to scoop us up and give us secure ground to stand on. We all need His grace to give grace to others.Leave a Comment