What is the True Meaning of Grace?
Forgiving without forgetting.
It’s what a benevolent Creator has done, centuries over, time and again.
It’s what a parent does, every day. EVERY DAY. I don’t think about it. The milkshake incident…we move on. I don’t hold grudges over my children, it doesn’t even occur to me to do so. We just let it go, we move on.
But when it comes to friendship, relationship, that’s where things get sticky. A quagmire where hurts hinder and wounds run deep, and long.
I had just delivered my first child by c-section. I was sore, and tired, and raw – both inside and out. My mother was not a part of my life anymore, and as I lay in recovery after the surgery, I felt a loneliness and isolation deep and impenetrable. The baby had been taken away for a barrage of tests and I sent Gabe to be with him, to be by his side as I could not be. The tangled jumble of elation that my baby was born healthy and whole, twining with the crushing disappointment in the knowledge that she wasn’t there. She should have been there.
Alone in that room; I sobbed for an hour, a nurse writing notes at a desk nearby, who never rased her head as I cried. Sedated and bound to the hospital bed, wishing for what I could not have, yet extraordinarily grateful for what I had just been given.
We began our life as a family of three and I was a classic first-time mom. I worried about everything, I lay awake at night wondering if he were breathing. I bullied and berated myself for my inability to adequately breast-feed, as if I were intentionally starving my child. I fretted over every fever, every milestone.
I questioned myself, my purpose. Was I meant to be a mother? Could I possibly succeed at this awesome task? This life, this responsibility, for the next 18 years? And all of it without my mother to advise and counsel along the way.
In those early days, whispered truths to a friend about my anxiety and fear, shared in confidence, were taken wrong, and when she shared my words with others, words traveled as words so often do. I was wounded beyond measure, betrayed. Judged. Anger flared deep within my soul and began a slow, destructive burn.
For two years I carried that anger as a weapon, a quiver across my shoulders, arrow-points of rage that would flare, and I would sling. Ferocity ate at my soul and the rage began to cripple my capacity for joy.
I began to crumble under the weight of my own bitterness.
She came to me, one morning, unexpectedly and knelt at my knee.
“I’m sorry. I know I’ve hurt you. Please forgive me.”
Her own humility like a flood, extinguishing my rage in an instant. I could no longer bear the weight of my bitterness and in that instant, I let it go.
That all-consuming fire I had carried so long was simply…gone.
Friendship was salvaged, different, but new and stronger for the history we shared. In hindsight, I see know that I suffered far more at my own hand than by hers. My soul was stunted in those years, bound up like a lotus foot, unable to grow. Unable to breathe. Unable to shine.
Forgiveness is letting go of the past and letting the Light back in. Not forgetting – it is inhuman to ask that of ourselves – but forgiving. Grace, abundantly given to us daily, affording us the ability to give it back abundantly to others.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. ~Ephesians 2:8-9
May undeserved grace and peace be yours in abundance,
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