looking beyond

Whenever I think about forgiveness I think about grace. The two just seem to go hand in hand.

So after talking a little about forgiveness I’ve been thinking about grace.

Grace is hard, I think we all know that. We are taught that we must get justice. People need to get what they deserve.

But that’s not what we’re called to.

So why do we act that way, aside from the obvious?

I was chatting with my home church on Tuesday and we talked about an idea that I think is worth some pondering. We tend to look at the sin, or the fault, and not the person.

So perhaps then the issue is the way we look at sin then.

We look at sin the same way we look at crime. While it may all be crime, some is worse. We rate it.

Yes lying is bad but murder is worse.

But what if sin was binary? A yes or a no. Would grace be easier?

Consider two people for me. They are in every way the same. They are literally perfect. Blameless in every way they could be but for one.

Person one is a compulsive liar. He lies all the time about everything.

Person two is murderer. It was a bad choice he made years ago but still a murderer.

Which will it be easier to show grace to? Be honest it’s person one because while we know both are bad we rate murder as worse. We don’t see the person or God in person two. We have trouble looking past the sin to see the exact same person behind it.  A person made in God’s image, needing love and grace and forgiveness.

I could make the argument person one is worse because they keep doing it. They keep sinning where person two sinned once.

When we live a life of compassion we called to see what God sees, and God see us beyond our sin.

to late

Sometimes we miss things.

A moment, a chance, an opportunity. Once they’re gone they’re gone.

And sometimes they aren’t.

Sometimes a moment is there, over and over and over and we just won’t take it.

Like the old saying, better late than never, sometimes a chance is just waiting for us to finally take that step. I think this can play out in a whole bunch of ways but today I want to talk about forgiveness.

Have you ever been scarred? Not just hurt but deeply and in a sense fundamentally wounded?

I’m not talking about the time I had terrible service and then refused to go back to a local restaurant for years. I was frustrated and upset by how my friends and I were treated. But that’s something different.

I’m talking about something that touches you in the deepest most inner parts of who you are. The kind of scarring that rattles you loose of your grounding and causes you to start to question life. This is about betrayal.

Is that ever a hard place to forgive. Bitterness is just so much easier.

And maybe for you it’s never been that deep. Maybe for you it is something far less dramatic. But did you forgive?

Perhaps more interesting, did you do anything to help the other person forgive when it was you who caused the scar?

I’m reminded of a very specific instance in my life. I was scarred and wounded on such a deep level not only did I not want to forgive I knew I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I had known these folks for YEARS.

But things were said and action taken that I swore I would never let go. I could not and I would not forgive. They had made their choices and so this was the outcome. And God worked on my heart to soften it.

So I tried to forgive.

And much like I thought, I couldn’t. I wanted to let it all go but every time the topic came up my pulse quickened, I got harsh and difficult, and I relived that pain over and over.

But I kept trying.

More than a year passed and I was approached.

“I’m sorry Phil.”

And I was released.

We don’t know all the people we’ve hurt and all the scars we’ve caused, but we do know some. Sometimes what people really need is to know that you are honestly and truly sorry. Help give them the tools and the space to be gracious and forgiving, even if it’s too late.

how I feel doesn’t matter

Check out the two links below real quick.

Link one is to a now old pop punk kind of song. Just listen for 30 sec then you can leave complaining that it’s too loud or that people today don’t understand music or whatever else you may think.

Link two is a cover of the same song and it’s great! So skillful and elegant.

It’s so much about take isn’t it? It’s so much about how you choose to look at something.

Two songs with the same ‘sound’ interpreted an entirely different way. They just looked at the same thing differently.

We do the same with people too.

How easy is it to forget how much perspective matters, how much our choice and filters change who and what we see?

That person is a mess; Loud, obnoxious, unapologetic, and in your face. Or you’re having a bad day and their bright, bubbly personality is too much for you to take.

Think about how two people looked at the same music and experienced and expressed it differently?

When I was getting married my dad gave me some advice on being a good husband. He said I can’t let my day or situation dictate how I interact with Sarah. I don’t get to be short, harsh, or impatient with her simply because I had a bad day.

I choose how I’m interacting and having a bad day doesn’t mean Sarah deserves a jerk for a husband that night.

To that point I choose what perspective I’m taking with people. Do I see God in them? Do I see what God sees in them? Do I choose to love them as they are, to see the skill and elegance of what God has made?

I suppose what I’m saying is a person trying to live a life of compassion will choose to see God in everyone and will then choose to act towards them with grace and love despite how they are feeling that day.

Our expression of love doesn’t change based on how we are feeling and it may help us to live that way if we choose to see people as God does.