Once upon a time, I was waiting to welcome Grace. And grace. Either way, in my life, Grace has been a gift of God’s grace and her presence always reminds me that even in the midst of challenging days or difficult situations, grace will eventually appear if I just look around.
It always takes me by surprise, however, when I discover that not everyone welcomes grace, and not everyone is willing to extend grace to others. And I find it fascinating when I hear a sermon about how we should forgive those who have caused us heartache (which, of course, is true), but I’ve yet to get an answer to the question about how to handle situations when someone else refuses to forgive me. Or, for that matter, won’t even tell me what they won’t forgive me for. Real or imagined.
And so, I wait for grace. Some days more patiently than others, just like the twenty-two months we waited for Grace. Without a word, without a clue, until one day, it appeared. The Letter. “Be on a plane next Thursday to pick up your daughter in Xian, China.” That was it. After all those months, Grace was finally in sight.
After years of waiting for grace from those who refuse to forgive, it has dawned on me that it might never be forthcoming. You know those people, because I’m thinking we all are waiting for grace in one form or another. “I really don’t care if God has forgiven you, I’m certainly not going to!” That’s a load of false guilt to be carrying around in a broken heart.
As I listen to our daughters snipping and snapping at one another, as all sisters do, I have to smile. It makes me nuts, but I am so grateful to God for their presence in our lives. Without them, I might have never discovered that grace appears, even when we aren’t looking for it, in unexpected ways. I’ve often heard that if we expect nothing, we are never disappointed. It’s kind of sad, but true. After all, my joy does not depend on the choices of others, so it has been truly liberating to come to the place where other people do not have the power to break my heart, whether they choose to love me, or forgive me, or not.
I’ve just been thinking about grace and noticing all the little ways that God’s grace appears. Trying not to dwell on the times, places, and people where grace does not come forth. I guess it is a lesson in learning where to focus my attention and where to fix my eyes. Because I cannot expect other people, or myself, to be as gracious or forgiving as God . . . . we are only human, and to expect more is to be deceived myself.
So, if I’m waiting for grace in the wrong place, I will always be disappointed. We waited for Grace, and eventually she came to our hearts and lives. I never need to wait for grace from God. It is always here, ever present, and eternally available.
As the days, weeks, months, and years of my life pass by, and I travel this journey to the end, I think I need to stop waiting for grace. That which is mine is already here. God’s grace and our Grace, both accept me just the way I am. The others, well, I think I’m done waiting. Lesson learned.