This past year, I chose to host a Christmas table at our church holiday brunch. I decorated it with miniature plastic pine trees from home and borrowed battery-operated candles from the table next to mine (probably because the sweet lady saw how sparse my table was looking). It wasn’t fancy or formal, but it was fitting for our church ladies.
I was the host. I grabbed coffees and treats and offered a friendly welcome to all who circled around my centerpiece. A gal sat down beside me whom I’d never met before — Elizabeth. She was new, and I struck up a casual conversation with her. Even though we’d just met, we quickly realized we had many connections. She knew my mom years ago when they worked in the same field together finding homes for international college students.
Gradually, more women found their place at my table, and the introductions began. “What are you doing for the holidays? What are your favorite Christmas movies? How many children do you have?” Then my mom sat down beside Elizabeth. They began chatting and catching up on the years that had gone by. Before I knew it, I heard my mom say to Elizabeth, “You should give an announcement!”
What was my mom up to?
I saw her leap up and run over to the coordinator of our Christmas event. Elizabeth leaned over and whispered, “Your mom wants me to make an announcement about my business,” she said nervously. As the morning brunch ended, sure enough, the new visitor at our church, Elizabeth, was up on stage giving an announcement about her small business.
I packed up my fake Christmas trees, returned the borrowed lights, and walked out to my car with my box of stuff and my mom beside me. We reflected on the morning.
“I’ve been praying for ways to give Elizabeth grace for years,” my mom gleefully said. She went on to explain how when they had been in business together, Elizabeth had been unkind to her. She had spoken poorly about my mom, mistreated her, and lacked respect. Since then, like a kid on Christmas morning, she had been eagerly waiting for ways to bless her.
I left that morning completely undone by my mom’s actions. I am an author. I have grown a community of women whom I write for, encourage, and love — many of whom are right here in this (in)courage community. Essentially, I have built a platform. If there was an author who I knew had spoken poorly about me, disrespected me, or been downright mean, I’m not sure I would pray for ways to give her grace. I’m certain I would not give her my platform to use.
If someone hurts me, I am quick to wish harm upon them. I am tempted to return the pain they caused me by putting them down or lashing out in anger. I don’t pray for them. Praying blessing upon others (especially those who have hurt me) is incredibly hard. Praying for my enemy feels impossible, but it’s what changes my heart from bitterness to grace.
I think my mom was able to love this woman who had hurt her because she had prayed for her. My mom gave Elizabeth her platform to use. She used her connections and gave her a microphone to share about her small business. This is undeserved grace — which, I suppose, is the definition of grace, isn’t it?
Grace is an undeserved gift, but I have a tendency to reserve grace for the “good” people — you know, the people who, for the most part, are kind and easy. I hold back when it actually requires something of me and especially when I need to give it to those who have hurt me, betrayed me, and shamed me. Then it seems more like foolishness.
To give grace to my enemy is backward, but so are the ways of Christ.
Christ says things like, “The last shall be first, love your enemies, pray blessings upon those who have been against you.” We are all undeserving of grace. Yes, even the best of us don’t deserve the loving gift of God. The truth is there is no such thing as “the best of us.” We all fall miserably short.
So as this year unfolds, I want to release my mental list of who deserves grace and who doesn’t because we’re all desperate for it. I am praying for how to give grace to those who have hurt me and to see how I can lift others up. How can I give what I have (my platform, my home, my things) to be a means for grace? How can I love the way God does? We all need the grace of God to scoop us up and give us secure ground to stand on. We all need His grace to give grace to others.Leave a Comment
Ruth Mills says
What a beautiful example your mom was to you & in your telling to all of us! A tangible example of Christ’s grace to us forwarded to others. Thank you for sharing & encouraging us to be backward sharing grace as Christ.
I have been awake since 2 am because of a situation where I live. I can’t even begin to describe what is going on. I read this and it all becomes clear- I need to forgive. Just thinking about it has made it easier to breathe. Thank you for these words.
Ariel Krienke says
That is so great. A lesson for all of us. I will say in order to do it cheerfully we need to be fully emotionally healed which we all have something to be healed from. Now I fully trust God and feel trust to try things that seem backwards.
Beverly C Bohus says
I came from a family that was very self-righteous. They measured their worth by measuring the worth of others and could only feel good when others were found wanting. For years I did the very same thing until Christ and others showed me what grace and finding worth in Him was all about. I still find it hard not to judge but I catch myself and go down a different, more fruitful path knowing He loves me despite my flaws, and I can do the same.
Madeline, I’m praying for God’s grace and peace to surround you. Forgiveness may not change the situation, but it will change your heart and allow hope and healing to come.
Anjuli, thanks so much for this story— it’s one thing to be able to extend grace, but to seek it out and look for ways to give grace to those that have hurt us is not only a great testimony, but also a great challenge! I pray that we would all embrace this practice.
Your Mom’s example of grace is so beautiful and I long to have that same spirit towards others. Thanks for sharing.
Beth Williams says
Extending grace to others-especially those who’ve hurt or wronged you is hard. Yet that is exactly what Jesus did on the cross & continues to do each day. It takes a God’s supernatural power & a loving relationship with Christ for us to do the same. There are people who rub me the wrong way or that I judge (yes I do it). Lately God has been putting some of them on my mind & I pray for them. Asking God to bless them however He sees fit. We have to realize that His ways are higher & mightier than our ways. By extending grace to others we may just lead someone to Christ.
Grace shown to one can lead them to pass on that grace. What a beautiful ripple effect that could have in a world so desperate for God’s grace.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Anjali thank you for what you wrote. It has really spoken to my heart. To do with my in Dad who is not saved. 81 next month. I have to have grace for my Dad keep on praying for him. Even when he can I don’t think he realises he has done it. He can my Dad come out with things that hurt. If you say anything to him. He will always my Dad defend himself. By saying you picked me up wrong. He argue his part. It not worth saying anything. Like one Christmas I was at my Sister house. I have a hearing problem. I didn’t have my hearing aids yet. As I was waiting for the appointment to get them after I had my hearing checked. I couldn’t hear what they my family were saying. I get left out. I know my Dad Loves me. I love him. But my Dad said Dawn your very quiet. I said no point joining in I can’t hear right what you are all saying. That is why I am quite. My Dad perks up said don’t be silly your hearing not that bad. You can hear more than you want or let on. At that moment I wanted the world to swallow me up. I was so hurt at his commitment. I thought yo myself. You live in my world. You know what it like not being able to hear probably. It not nice as you feel left out. I left the kitchen were we just had dinner. I felt like crying. I went into the living room were my sister’s to youngest boys were building Lego the got for Christmas. One asked me Dawn are you all right. I said I am just tired. But it hurt. God said to me. Dawn you live for me. You remember your Dad not saved. Keep praying for him and forgive him. Which I did to the Lord. Your Dad will always be like that at times. Live life to please him. Nothing will change until he get saved. I pray for his salvation. So I want you to remember that. I took on board. As God later went on to show me most people not saved. Live to please themselves. As long their world and family ok. Nothing else matters. Se do care. Even if not saved for all people. You keep living for me. Keep on loving your Dad. I do that. God gave me the grave to not let what my Dad said get to me or annoy me. Stop me being there for him. Keep on loving him. Thank you again for what you shared. Keeping you all incourage in my prayers. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Made a we mistake. Please forgive me should have said. Nor stop caring for him. Is what I was meant to say. I do still care for my Dad. He knows I pray for him as I have told him. Love Dawn xx
Erin Peet says
Wow, this really hit me. I have a mental list of who deserves grace and who doesn’t (even though I don’t like to admit it). If anything, 2022 shows me that we all need grace. Thanks so much for sharing friend! How amazing is your mom ❤️
What a wonderful example your
Mother is to all of us!!!
You All at in courage are leading
Deanna Day Young says
This is wonderful writing. I needed to hear this today. Thank you for letting God lead you to write this beautiful piece.
Sharon A says
Thanks for the reminder I struggle with this often but I do believe the hardest folks to pray for probably need it the most!
Nelu Mbingu says
This is a lovely story. I want to be the type of person that shows grace to those who wish me ill.
Shar Olive says
This was so timely today..I had friend hurt me deeply & has before. (She is often angry & won’t can’t? apologize) Earlier I prayed to forgive & felt peace to work via email on a friend’s tribute. It was not in my power but the Lord’s to give grace.
Renee Swope says
Anjuli, thank you for exposing what is so true of us all. And for sharing this story of you mom who was/is a picture of Jesus! He gave His platform to those who had abandoned Him, denied Him, and disappointed Him. He entrusted them with His life knowing they would let Him down. Amazing grace!
Jeanne Plante says
You blessed me as I read this. It took me 65years to forgive the man that molested me when I was only a child. It lasted for 6 long and agonizing years. Now I’m an old lady and I make sure all the children I meet know about the danger of even relatives and friends of the family wanting to take you for a ride. I love your stories they always keep me entertained.
Sorry for the misspelled word and otjer. I have MS and my fingets
Don’t do wha t I want them to.
Love, Jeanne Jeanne7056@gmail.com
Dawn Wood says
First of all, I love when I see you’ve written for this ministry! Second, I love this story! Third, I love your mama! Fourth, I love your grace-filled message! Finally, l love you.
The Christmas Coordinator ❤️
My sister and I are estranged. I used to cringe when I would see a card or a plaque bearing the word “Sister”. Now, when I see “Sister,” I stop and pray for her. It is softening my heart toward her. Things won’t ever be the same between us, but I can feel better because I am praying for her.