Grace is not some beatific blessing borne down to us on angel’s wings. No. Grace is and will always be a choice, just as love is a choice. Every. Single. Day. We have to choose grace over bitterness, and sometimes that is hard. Very hard. Some days, grace, forgiveness, love…these are all hard. Sometimes they really are choices: grit-your-teeth, determination-over-motivation, lace-up-your-gloves-and-punch-above-your-weight choices.
When we are hurting, when something has bumped into our happy (or outright shattered it), that choice can be the hardest to make. We want to feel angry, we want to sit and stew in our hurt and bitterness, but choosing to give grace requires us to act outside of our feelings. As Lysa TerKeurst so wisely put it, “Our feelings are indicators not dictators, child.” We can definitely feel a particular way and do no wrong in the feeling of it but that in no way means that we have to act out of those feelings.
I was once in a situation where it would have been ridiculously easy for me to allow myself to be cold, unkind, and resentful towards some people who (had I allowed my view to skew this far) I could have looked at as “furtherers” of my misery. However, I stopped and thought about them, about the reality of those feelings and ideas. Those poor people would have had no idea as to the cause behind my attitude change towards them. They would have been confused and most likely hurt. The truth was that they had not wronged me in any way; they just happened to stumble into a difficult situation that I was experiencing at the time. These people had never been anything but kind to me and I knew, in my heart’s core, that treating them in any other way would have been wrong. They had not wronged me and so I would not treat them though they had. I would not come unglued and let irrational emotions boss me out of grace. I made a choice. In thinking through and choosing my actions, I then found it a little easier to extend grace to the actual people with whom I was in conflict.
Grace can be hard. Grace can go against every tenet of self-preservation that is built into our cells. That’s why it is a choice. And choices are not made for the easy moments. Choices are made for the challenging times. For the times when we ground ourselves in what we believe and act out of that belief, whatever it may be. Choices are made for those times when situations are difficult, people are stubborn or just downright nasty, and when our hearts are breaking and anger swells. That is when choices are the most important. When we determine to look past what we feel and decide how we will act. When we choose to consider the probability of another’s pain out of which they may have acted. So often, pain is inflicted by those who are in the midst of it rather than it really having anything to do with the person on the receiving end. This is where grace comes in. Grace for the hard times. Grace for the hard people. Grace is ever the better choice than bitterness. We can choose loving grace, even when anger makes us want to lash out in cruelty or when fear makes us want to cower. But it will not be done for us. We must make the choice.
Take it from a courageous woman who ran off with a crotchety Scotsman in a blazing blue police box: