Today was supposed to be a rest day.
With a busy week, today was going to be my day to rest and relax and recharge. Ever was working with a friend today and I was going to have the day to myself to read a book, bake a pumpkin roll (yes, I even picked out a recipe!) and to work on a personal passion project (more to come on that ;)). But today did not go as planned.
Last night I got in an argument with Ever and I let my anger carry over to today and then when he didn’t say what I wanted to hear this morning, I kinda sunk into self-pity. I stayed in bed and let Gilmore Girls drown out my thoughts. As if that weren’t enough to make for a crappy day, I opened Facebook. That alone should let you know how the day went from there. I saw a post that felt like a slap in the face. I know the intentions of this person was not to hurt me nor did they realize it would but gosh, it did.
It felt like I was being told that the work of this year didn’t count. That it had no value.
And y’all, that hurt.
More than that, it made me want to throw in the towel. To say, ENOUGH! I’M DONE!!
My anger with Ever quickly disappeared as it was replaced with anger for someone else. I called him. I vented. He spoke calmly and we considered what we should do. As I hung up the phone, I was still hot with anger so I texted my mom.
“Do I have the right to email this person and let them know how they’ve hurt me??”
She said to let it go. I wasn’t satisfied. I let her know that I expected this from other people but not from this individual. And my mom said something simple but totally profound.
“Give her grace.”
That kinda took the steam out of my angry little engine. So I decided to go for a walk to clear my mind. As I walked, I talked with God. I told Him how of all people I didn’t expect this from her. She’s someone I’ve always had a great amount of respect for and looked up to.
I told Him how sometimes I just wanted to gather those I love close to me and shut the door on the world so it couldn’t hurt us anymore. Or God forbid, that it be me hurting someone else in the world (which unfortunately is a given.)
I told Him how I hurt and how I couldn’t understand how someone couldn’t see how their actions and their Facebook post could be hurtful to me. Don’t they see!
I see. I hear you. God said in that still quiet voice.
I told Him how tired I was of this…
Of feeling like we take two steps forward and three steps back in ministry.
Of hearing the comments from other missionaries who should feel like a team but instead feel more like they’re just trying to break us.
Of being completely confused by when those same people refuse to even communicate with us.
Of giving grace.
I thought back over my mom’s simple text…”Give her grace.”
And then the truth of it rang out, BUT I DON’T WANT TO!!!!!
As soon as I thought that, another thought quickly followed. But what if Jesus had said that on the cross. What if He had said “BUT I DON’T WANT TO!”? Where would I be right now? I don’t know.
But I do know I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be forgiven. I wouldn’t be loved. I wouldn’t be strengthened. I wouldn’t be picked up when I fall down. I wouldn’t be held close in the Father’s arms when I realize how ugly my sin is.
Years ago, I remember going to a Sunday School class taught by former missionaries to future missionaries. One Sunday, Kelby Carter, former missionary to Peru, started the class and said, “I know we were supposed to talk about this but the Lord has laid on my heart to talk about grace.” So many times over the years, I have thought back to that specific class. The message Kelby shared that day has served me well. He shared with those of us, sitting in that class eagerly awaiting to hear more of what it would be like to be a missionary, a lesson that without it, I truly believe I would have thrown in the towel a very long time ago. Kelby told us that on the mission field, the people who will disappoint you the most won’t be the people you are trying to lead to Christ; it will be your fellow missionaries and partners in ministry and you will have to learn how to give grace. Oh how I wish his words weren’t true but they are.
Over the years, my heart has felt like a punching bag more times than I care to admit. Fellow missionaries have hurt me deeply. It’s one of the reasons I’m not fond of referring to myself by that word. I talk with others and find out my story is not too unusual and that the missionary world is quite often a dog-eat-dog world. And I’m sure you’ve experienced it too.
Maybe it wasn’t a missionary but maybe it was your pastor who let you down. Maybe it was the woman who led you to Christ. Maybe it was your small group leader. Or maybe just a Christian friend who you never in a million years thought would have hurt you so deeply.
Take some advice from my mom and “give them grace.”
Because maybe not today, maybe not even tomorrow but next week, you’ll–I’ll be the one in need of grace. So even if your heart and soul is crying out “BUT I DON’T WANT TO” and maybe you have every right to say that but grace is not something we deserve. It is something given freely. So give it. Give grace.
And then remember.
Remember how God has given us grace. Remember the woman who sends you links to blogs to encourage you as you battle homesickness and who makes the effort to come see you when it’s been years since you last saw each other. That’s God’s sweet grace.
Remember the person you send a text to asking about some urgently needed medical supplies for someone in the community who immediately jumps into action and says don’t worry about the cost, she’s got it. That’s God’s grace.
Remember the friends who check in on you just because. Just because they love you and want to encourage your heart in the journey. The friends who give and pray and encourage. That’s God’s grace.
And remember the mama that challenges you. Who doesn’t just say you what you want to hear but what you need to hear. That’s God’s grace.
He gives us His grace every day. Freely. Beautifully. Let us learn how to give it to others.
Grace: the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
Okay, now I’m off to make that pumpkin roll! 🙂