Have you ever found yourself at the end of a grudge match? You’ve battled with bitter, angry, and hateful feelings towards someone whose actions or words you dislike. Someone you cared about might have broken your trust. Maybe a disagreement turned nasty and now the idea of speaking to a certain family member, former friend, co-worker, or acquaintance drives you mad.
I’ve been there. I’ve carried warranted and unwarranted distaste for some people that have come into my life. I’ve harbored anger towards them, even resentment.
As a believer in God, I still struggled with forgiveness. I’d forgive but not forget so when someone expressed or showed a desire to change, I saw it as comical. Really? Them, change? Never in a million years could that person change.
I would list all the reasons why people didn’t deserve another chance. I told Jesus I was sorry but I wouldn’t allow myself to get struck on my other cheek willingly. I’d foolishly think, Jesus couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like to forgive someone who hurt him, someone who didn’t deserve it. Silly me. He understands it more than I could ever comprehend.
I was okay with grace as long as it was for me because I never did wrong. The things I did weren’t that serious compared to others. I was a hypocrite.
James 4:6 says, But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Every time I saw myself as above the people that hurt me or did me wrong, I was filled with pride. I had to question what good would it be if I continued to live like that?
I stopped looking at people in a whose sin is worse than mine, way. I accepted that some people really do change and even if they didn’t I had to love them anyway. I had to pray for them even if at first I’d grind my teeth together in an attempt to speak life unto their name. It was hard. I hated it. I hated praying for people that disrespected me. I wanted so badly to curse them out and put them in their places instead of pray. Whenever God would put it on my heart to pray, I’d roll my eyes and pout like a toddler. ”Why should I pray for them to have a good day when they just ruined mine, God?”
I came to the realization that the prayers we’re just as much for me as they were for the people that I was praying for. God was softening my heart. He was preparing me for the droves of people I would come in contact with that needed my prayers more than I need to prove a point. He was opening my eyes to see that if I wanted grace, I had to be willing to give it.
After all, I’ve changed. Who I am now is drastically different from who I was five years ago. It took work. It took a lot of self-reflection and acceptance that I wasn’t mentally and emotionally the person I should have been. The woman I use to be rejected any idea that my temper was a problem or that my readiness to fight someone who gave me a little attitude was unhealthy. I wasn’t a mean person but I was very quick to anger and had no patience for disrespect.
When I remember that part of myself it becomes easier to understand others. I don’t ride on my high horse acting as if I never needed to be forgiven. My past attitude had always affected the relationships I had with people and myself. And while there are times that I find myself in situations that test me, I don’t take things personally. I know that a person’s words and actions can come from a place of loneliness and pain much like mine once did. So when I’m questioned about why I continue to forgive people that have hurt me, I simply tell them that I myself have needed to be forgiven many times.
Grace is not something that we hold on to for dear life so that only we can reap its benefits. Grace is something we should share freely with others. And in the end, even if we still have strained relationships with the people who have done us wrong, our conscience will be clear and our hearts at peace.
As always guys, (HUGS & LOVE)