Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Extend Grace

People are flawed and wear their wounds like undergarments. That's why we have to grace those we love with forgiveness when their disappointments, misconceptions, and hurts overshadow their ability to be considerate, understanding, and loving. However, we need to recognize the difference between extending grace and overextending ourselves.

I used to live a lie. I put a smile on my face, forced myself to be in the company of people I shouldn't, and convinced others that my smile reflected how I felt. This lie stemmed from another—I believed that no one could or would want to care for me if they knew the depth of my brokenness. Who wants to be around the girl with such a troubled start?

I tried to hide not only the influence of my childhood, but that it even happened. Part of the problem was I'd been taught that offenses were to be forgiven rather than worked through. While I know its value, forgiveness should not be used as a means to ignore the truth and perpetuate hurt. My focus to forgive offenses rather than work through them limited my growth. Instead of pursuing peace I pursued "proof" of forgiveness—my smile and the ability to be in the company of those who hurt me. Fortunately, I don't live that lie anymore. While I extend grace to those who have hurt me in deed or by encouraging my silence, I no longer overextend myself by proving my level of forgiveness with unhealthy tests or by remaining in the company of those who inflicted such pain.

All of us carry remnants of our pasts that cloud our judgment. All of us are capable of making mistakes, even with those we love. We are not to seek perfection from others. We are to seek consideration, authenticity, kindness, and understanding and be considerate, authentic, kind, and understanding to ourselves. Just as we extend grace to others, we need to extend grace to ourselves by not giving so much that we lose sight of who we are and forfeit the essence within us all in the name of forgiveness.

Read last week's post, It's Your Choice.

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