Oh the things I've learned about myself this week as the Lord tested me on the subjects of mercy and grace.
It was not a fun test at all and started with what felt like an unexpected punch below the belt that sent me reeling, delivered by a couple of folks I trusted. Then came another one from someone I thought was my friend, and I'm ashamed to say that instead of keeping my cool, I had a bit of a pity party/meltdown combo over the phone with her instead.
I was feeling wronged, betrayed, angry, taken advantage of, and very much like a bop bag that keeps getting knocked down and popping up again. And then the Lord topped it all off by speaking a mild rebuke to my heart, "Why are you looking at your circumstances instead of putting your trust in me?"
So I went to my prayer group and asked for prayer that the Lord would give me wisdom and guidance as to what steps I should take next to right the wrong. As it turned out, I did not need to make that decision. When I returned home I had a message from one of the three people I had e-mailed to confirm whether what had been done had been ethical or not, and she told me to sit tight and do nothing because she and her husband were going to fight the battle for me.
And that's when the real test started, and when, as I waited to hear the outcome, all sorts of tapes started playing in my head. I was shocked to discover that what I really wanted, above all, was vengeance, punishment for the wrongdoer, for them to feel guilty and remorseful about what they had done, to ask for forgiveness. Then I would be more than willing to forgive them.
Remember the tortured Jesus hanging on a cross to redeem us from our sins? At any moment He could have called down legions of angels to save Him (Matthew 26:53), but instead, His love for us held Him to that Cross, and He said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34) His forgiveness was not conditional. After I pondered that for a while, my own wound started to heal, and my anger to dissipate.
I was expecting the final decision to be passed down from someone higher up, but last night, that someone higher up called me and gave me the option of making that final decision. Surprisingly, I was able to offer grace.
Granted, it was God's grace--not my own--because my flesh was still not in total accord, but as I was sitting here tonight writing this post, two friends stopped by bearing a peace offering from one of the offending parties, and I suddenly realized I no longer felt wronged. In fact, my whole perspective seemed to have changed. Now, for the life of me, I can't figure out why I had gotten so upset about something so relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Funny how that works.
I'm guessing another layer has just bit the dust!