staggering grace

Recently I sat with a new friend, rain beating against the window outside, our hands warmed by cups of coffee, and I asked her to tell me her story.

It took three hours. And I barely held back the tears multiple times as I listened and wondered how I would have endured half the things she has walked through.

And then she spoke about forgiveness. She spoke about how hard it was, how it didn’t come easily, even though she was sure she needed to. She told me how she went back and stood face to face with those who had hurt her the most, put her arms around them. How she brought them gifts, loved them well, and pursued them for months even when they wouldn’t accept her (wouldn’t accept her!), wouldn’t hear of forgiveness, of reconciliation.

She went far beyond what I would have told her was required of her. Forgiveness is one thing. But reconciliation? I’d have told her that some relationships are better left in the past. That some wounds are too deep to fully heal in this lifetime. That sometimes we need to protect ourselves first.

And yet now she speaks of them with no bitterness, with no hatred. She speaks of relationships finally mended, healed, repaired. She loves them, despite it all. She speaks with peace and a lightness to her voice.

She confounds me. And it’s beautiful.

And I pray to one day have even the smallest amount of her grace and strength.