BY KELSEY WYLIE, GRACE ATTENDER
“I give grace because I so desperately need it.” Lysa TerKeurst
Giving grace is not easy. We ALL need it because we are human. We aren’t perfect. We all make mistakes. We say things we don’t mean. We do things that can hurt others. Why is it then, that it can be SO HARD to give grace to others, or even ourselves? This has been on my heart a lot lately. I am not one who dishes out grace easily. I admire those who can do so, but to be honest, most of my adult years have been spent mastering the art of compartmentalizing and holding onto resentment or bitterness towards those who have upset me or hurt my feelings.
But I am sick of it. The negativity is exhausting. It only breeds more negative emotions. It serves no one, especially me. Not to mention, I don’t like being that person. So in the last few months, I have been praying on and trying to figure out what I needed to do to become a more grace-giving person.
I decided to start by just distancing myself from relationships that felt negative or that I responded to with bitterness or resentment. I wanted to give myself room to figure out if I was the one creating the issues or if it was created by outside factors. I unfollowed people or pages on social media if the posts would trigger any negativity. I contemplated a lot on whether my current relationships were worth keeping (especially now that I have a child) or if the season where I needed them was now over.
It came down to two choices. Confront the issues with the people I had resentment towards, or like Elsa in Frozen, I had to just LET IT GO and figure out how to move past it.
Lucky for me, God sent opportunities for both!
For over a year, I'd been holding resentment towards a friend I've known more than a decade. She’d never made an effort to meet my son or come to any baby-related events during my pregnancy. It hurt my feelings. I had been there for both her pregnancies, had thrown her a shower, and had even visited her at the hospital. Granted, once I had my son, I didn’t bother telling her over text so she had an opportunity to visit us, because by that time I had already had my feelings hurt and bitterness had kicked in.
After months of debating if I should text her on why I had been distant or if I should just consider our friendship over, God made it clear to me I just needed to tell her she hurt my feelings, even if nothing else came of the friendship after.
So I texted her. I told her my feelings had been hurt despite that I knew she was a good person and that she hadn’t intended to upset me. I knew she had her own life and kids and responsibilities, but it still stung. I said that I just wanted to get rid of the drama and bitterness I was holding towards her and let it go.
Guess what? She gave me what I wanted — an apology. One that she probably wasn’t fully aware that I even needed from her, because I had been bitter and avoiding her for months. Also, during that year of wavering friendship when I was only focused on how she hurt ME, her marriage had ended with the man I’ve known for as long as I’ve known her—her children’s father. I hadn’t been there for her during a very difficult time her in life, any more than she had been there for me during a pivotal moment in mine. Look at what my bitterness and resentment had done!
Literally only a few weeks after I texted her, another old friend (who I haven’t seen or heard from much in the last couple years either), reached out to me and our mutual girlfriends apologizing for not being there for us. That she was sorry she’s been a bad friend and that she missed the birth of our babies and our get-togethers. She explained she had been going through a really rough time and had been in an emotionally abusive relationship that she was now free of.
I was the first to respond to the group text. I gave her the grace that I hadn’t been able to give so easily to my other friend. I told her we all had moments of being less than a great friend and that I was sorry we hadn’t known about or been there for her during her bad relationship. That I hoped she would be able to move on and find happiness. It felt SO GOOD to be able to just give her the grace she so desperately needed to move on! I also believe my grace-filled response led our other friends to also be more forgiving towards her. Look at what giving grace can do!
I learned from this experience that giving grace is easier after you finally decide to let the drama go. To understand that we all mess up, but that we are basically good people who have good intentions. You have to be able to see that the people who hurt you may be hurting more than you. The brokenness of bitterness and resentment creates a wall that isolates yourself, leaving you unable to see anything more than your own hurt, and ignorant to the hurting in others.
Let go of your bitterness friends, and give grace to those who need it as desperately as you do.
If you're like me and love reading, podcasts, or anything that will help you think deeper and live differently, I wanted to provide you with some additional resources you can use in regards to this topic: