I recently wrote about a situation that Brooke and I have been dealing with and as we talk to each other about healing and moving on I have been blessed to realize new aspects of God's love and grace that I have never known. To fully explain what I've learned I have to include a few more details about what exactly happened to us. I will still use a lot of anonymity because I have no intention to make my friends look foolish for their choices, but I think more details will help me explain what I have learned about God's love and grace.
Brooke and I had $7,939 stolen from us by friends. They didn't break into our house or steal it from our bank account but essentially the money was not yet theirs and a situation arose where it wasn't going to be theirs so they were required to pay it back. In an initial conversation with one of them they acknowledged the money wasn't theres and that they would pay it back. We thought everything was going to go smoothly. After a few unanswered e-mails, phone calls and text messages we feared the ship was headed toward rougher waters. Trying to steer things toward smoother sailing we reached out to our friends and acknowledged the awkwardness of the situation and explained that our heart was for things to go smoothly and compromise. No response. Then a conversation face to face asking if the money was going to be repaid meant by the response, "I don't know." Then another e-mail explaining that we were willing to work it out and do whatever we could to make sure things didn't get ugly. No response Then a last dish effort over Facebook chat to try and smooth things out that ended with a friend of 15 years telling me they never wanted to talk to me again. After that conversation I wrote this post - Pain, Anger and Grace.
So then Brooke and I discussed what our options were and we decided on grace and to forgive our friends the debt and hope things would be able to one day be redeemed. So we wrote another e-mail explaining that we never wanted things to get ugly and we were forgiving the debt. Our forgiveness was again met with no response.
The situation was frustrating. I've never had a harder time understanding a situation. When I told the story to some close friends and mentors they all came back with the same answer, "Wait.....What?"
So after we didn't receive a response to our forgiveness of a debt there came a lot of feelings and emotions.
First I was just shocked. I started to think of my reaction to Discover calling me and saying $8,000 of credit card debt has been forgiven. I would be ectatic and the word, "Thank You" would be quick to my lips. I would quickly share the story with people around me and talk about how amazing it is that I was forgiven such a large debt and I have no personal connection with Discover at all, other than the fact there card is Orange and easy to find in my wallet (Anytime you want to make that call Discover, I am all in).
Then came the anger. I started thinking how awful the whole situation had been and then to top it off without even a response to forgiveness. I started to think of all the things I could do with that money. I started to think about how I didn't need to forgive the debt and it belonged to me all along and if things got really ugly I would have won it back. I started to think of all the snide, a-hole comments I could leave on their Facebook and Instagrams. I started to get so wrapped in the "what if's" of the situation. It's so easy to let anger grab you and take you places. I thought of revenge and just like before it came again, in an instant... Grace
I was overwhelmed with a new dimension of God's grace. I had definitely been wronged and I had shown grace and had been wronged again. And so in the aftermath of grace I had given to someone I saw the aftermath of the grace God constantly pours out on me. More grace, always, every time, with out limit. Try feeling entitled to something silly like money after that realization hits you.
So then I started to think of how that would look in my situation. I know that the only thing God requires of us to receive his grace is for us to ask. To call up on His son's name to save us from our sin and shame. This was something that I so desperately wished my friends would have done. I told Brooke from the very beginning that I was ready to let them have the money, but they never asked. They never made that choice to explain their situation, humble themselves and ask for grace. How often have we done something stupid or wrong and let our silly pride get in the way of grace, freedom and love?
I also started to think of all that I have done to require grace from God. I started to think of my metaphorical $7,939 that I've stolen from him and the grace he extends afterward. It is only by the grace that God so freely gives to me that I am able to even be okay with losing this money. I hope that when you read this story you aren't thinking, "Wow, that's pretty amazing on T.J. and Brooke's part for forgiving that money." Please don't think that. It has nothing to do with us and we are only able to live this storyline out because of God's grace. So with amazement at my own hands I type these lines to you. I am okay with the money being gone. I have forgiven my friends for stealing it and I have learned that the aftermath of grace is and should always be more grace.