A few days ago I got a phone call from a close friend whom I had called earlier in the week about a favor. They were calling back to tell me they couldn’t do it and to explain why.
They said they wouldn’t help out because I had recently hurt them. And not just, “You borrowed ten bucks and never paid me back” kinda hurt. I had hurt them bad and deep. They said that it was difficult for them to even think about helping me out with this favor because of how let down they felt. I had failed them. They said that when they needed me most, I hadn’t been there for them.
And they were right.
I messed up. I fell short of their expectations and should have done things differently. Of course, there’s nothing I can do about it now, so I did all I could in that thirty minute phone conversation- I apologized. I admitted that I had messed up and I asked for forgiveness. Several times, I just got silent, and after hearing, “Are you still there?” could only reply with, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say.”
We wrapped up the conversation, I hung up the phone, and I started praying and thinking. I thought a lot about our conversation, but honestly I thought a lot more about my church. I thought about the congregation, and the individuals who attend. I thought about families and the relationships they share with each other. And I just thought about grace.
Yeah, I’m a pastor, but I don’t have it all together. I’m not perfect, and I let people down sometimes. But you know what? People let me down sometimes, too. I’m not trying to justify my shortcomings by saying, “Hey- I’m not the only one who does it!” I’m just pointing out the reality of the world we live in.
We mess up. We let each other down. We have days when we feel sad and lonely and we just wish somebody would call to check on us, and they never do. Some days are just terrible, lonely, sad and frustrating, and on those days, we’re tempted to start believing lies.
“I’m not worth their time.”
“Nobody cares enough to check on me.”
“They’re all a bunch of selfish jerks.”
But that’s not true. No, the truth is we’re all people with lives and schedules and families and baggage and struggles. We think about calling, but then we spill coffee or the baby needs changing or the phone rings, and we forget to call. We say we’ll pick up that thing on the way home, but the boss yells at us and it slips our mind and we walk in the front door without it. We say we’ll be there for your big event, but the game goes into overtime, and we don’t watch the clock, and we miss it.
And that’s why grace is so important- because at some point, we all need to be the recipients of it.
If you get your feelings hurt, and you hold a grudge and harbor bitterness, you will destroy friendships and relationships everywhere you go. If you allow satan (who I believe is real, and really hates your life and guts) to convince you to believe lies about your self-worth or the intentions of other people, you will destroy friendships and relationships everywhere you go. If you refuse to forgive those who fail you, if you constantly recall the ways they have let you down and you will not let go of disappointment, you will destroy friendships and relationships everywhere you go.
Grace doesn’t mean you didn’t get hurt. It means you love the person who hurt you in spite of what transpired. Grace is about the relationship’s potential, not its past. And if you really love the people in your life as much as you say you do, you will be incredibly, ridiculously, inexplicably, over-the-top gracious with them.
Simply defined, grace is the giving of something that isn’t deserved, and sometimes the thing that needs to be given is another chance.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below…