For a long time I’ve dealt with relational disappointment in the same way. If a friend hurts me and I (try to) do one of two things:
1. Choose to forgive the offense without bringing it up with them.
2. Go to them and explain how I was hurt and work it out.
However, after being repeatedly let down by the same person, it becomes harder and harder to forgive. And sometimes I decide my expectations for that person are obviously too high, and I need to lower them and maybe even take an emotional step away from the friendship. I’ve always called this wisdom. It’s not wise to allow ourselves to be walked on, abused or repeatedly hurt by someone, I’m sure we can all agree on that. However, sometimes its our closest friends or family that let us down over and over again. These people genuinely love and care for us, but let’s face it, we’re all imperfect and we all make mistakes. But in the past I’ve found myself pulling away from even those closest to me when I am hurt again and again. I lower my expectations and call it wisdom, when really, it is pride.
It’s my pride that keeps me from forgiving, from extending grace, from letting go. It’s the part of me that says, “I deserve better” or “You’ve hurt me one too many times”. It’s my pride that overlooks the fact that I myself have been the one to hurt as well. I too have messed up, again and again.
This past week I was hurt by a friend. It was not done intentionally. But instead of automatically extending grace, my pride rose up and I said to myself, “fine, I’m just not going to trust that person anymore. I’m going to pull back from that friendship and lower my expectations”. However, after speaking with that friend a few days later, and hearing her heart, so open and honest, and full of love, I was DEEPLY convicted. I was convicted of my insane pride. I was convicted of my unforgiving spirit. I was convicted of the fact that though she has ALWAYS extended endless grace to me, I wasn’t willing to do the same for her.
And then God spoke to me.
When someone we love hurts us, its not the time to decrease our expectations, but to increase our grace.
This is what relationship and community is all about. It’s about sharpening one another as we struggle through our faults and weaknesses. It’s about God using those close relationships to refine us, mold us, and ultimately make us more like Christ. It’s about pressing in when we want to run away. It’s about grace – His grace for us, and our grace for each other.
So we forgive one more time. We give another chance. And we look at ourselves with honestly and humility, realizing how much we depend on God’s grace for every good thing in our lives.