I often have selective grace. I have limited patience, meaning, there are those I'm more patient with than others. When my daughter does or says something inconsiderate or acts in a less-than-Christ-like way, I filter it through what I know--she's learning and growing. A work in progress, and my role is to walk beside her as she develops. And should my husband act discourteous or sharp, though I might react in the moment, I'll usually find my filter of love and grace.
I've learned to love them with all their imperfections. I've learned to accept where they are now, knowing that Christ in them will finish what He started--molding, stretching, transforming them into the man and woman He created them to be. (Phil. 1:6)
That is the lens I view them and their behaviors through. That's the lens I should be viewing my brothers and sisters through, but though I hate to admit it, that's rarely my default perspective.
I tend to be a little--or a lotta--more me-centered, obsessed with how the person's behavior affected me!
A while back, someone I cared about acted ugly. And in the middle of her ugly, she completely shut me out. At first I was hurt and angry. But as I prayed over her and the situation, God began to change my heart by showing me hers. He helped me see past her reactions to her pain--and shame--the emotions that were triggering her behavior and causing a rift between us.
And so, I reached out and sent an affirming text, basically telling her all the good I saw in her.
The response? Nothing.
So, I moved on, assuming I'd done my part and could therefore move on in peace.
Except God wanted me to go deeper, to be more persistent--to demonstrate the kind of love He shows me, a love that pursues patiently yet passionately, for years, decades, if that's what it takes.
But I'd already been rejected twice, and besides, I'd done nothing wrong! Shouldn't she be the one apologizing to me, Lord?
Yet, couldn't Christ say the same of me? After some internal pushes and pulls, I obeyed and sent another text. It was very simple. Short. Simply, "You've been on my heart and mind."
So now, for sure I could move on, right?
Um, no. God's love doesn't work that way. When others would give up, He perseveres. When others walk away, He draws closer still.
That's the kind of love He continually shows me, and that was the kind of love He wanted me to show this young woman--a love that never fails, even when the recipient does. And so I determined, whenever this person came to mind, and especially when negative feelings arose, to pray for her.
As I did, God began to speak to my heart, to help me understand, to see the situation through His eyes. As unpleasant as the situation was, as ugly as things had turned out, He had allowed it, for her good. He was stirring things up within her, touching on some inner wounds, wounds the initial issue had triggered, in order to heal her. To bring her one step closer to freedom.
Then He reminded me of all the times He'd done the same with me, and how long the painful stirring up had taken in some cases. And the peace and joy I experienced standing on the other side.
In other words, this woman was a work in progress, and sometimes remodeling gets messy. God wanted me to see beyond the mess to the beautiful masterpiece He was creating. "Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6, NLT).
Oh to have Christ's perspective! To give everyone the same grace I give to my loved ones, that I give to myself!
What are your thoughts on today's post? Did God ever bring you through a similar situation (as the one growing or watching another grow)? In what ways can we demonstrate Christ's initiating, persistent love? Have you ever felt God calling you to reach out to someone who continually spurned you? What happened?