grace has a face

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I’m finding it harder and harder to give forgiveness as I get older. I guess it’s because when you meet someone, you tend to become familiar with them and their flaws.  Then as years compound and you realize those small things are actually things that will never change. 

One of the things I’m struggling with these days are friendships who don’t give back. 

In my late teens to early twenties, someone told me I had such a heart for people, and I was to take care of it because not everyone will have a heart that gives. They’ll take what you give and just leave it there.

So while in college, I had a VERY hard time opening up to people, so much that one of my friends nicknamed me 20%- basically only revealing 20% of who I was. I realized quickly that most conversations in college end up with me on the listening end.  This granted me some reputation of being somewhat of an advice giver, because I would always end up listening to people’s problems. When people needed to talk, they would come by my place, or I would receive the phone calls, or the coffee meets. My ears were definitely my greatest asset. This was probably also why guys had a crush on me- because I would develop close friendships with them through heart to heart conversations.

The times I would open up, I’d find myself quickly regretting it, feeling so bare while the other person didn’t know what to do or say with the hot potato that you threw on them.  The worst was when you’d spill a little of your soul only for them to change the topic seconds later, diverting the attention to themselves.  How I learned to choose the wiser side of the fence in conversations and keep guarded.

This leads me to this…

I’m 33 and it’s still like this today- people are still the same. You will give and give of yourself- your ear, your heart, your words, your money, your time, your company, your help, your advice, your love, your work, your talents, your prayers, etc. and they will give back meagerly.

Even close friends.

They will not invite you out. They will not call you, text you, encourage you or ask you how you are.  They will never think of you and go out of their way to do a huge favor if it means it will inconvenience them, even though you could score a list of when you’ve been inconvenienced to help them. They will not offer help, send you a card, give you advice, or even pay you a compliment.  Even encouragement, they won’t even take 2 seconds to leave a line on your Facebook wall, like your posts or even pictures of your kids because it would only mean they’re happy for you. 

One of my pet peeves is when people don’t even reach out to ask if I might need help during an event, when countless times I’ve offered help or have been asked to help. I honestly try not to keep tabs, I don’t literally keep a list or tally points, but one can’t help but wonder the obvious after years and years of it. 

Grace says there are no conditions and forgiveness, there are no tallies. That’s why as I get older, the more and more real the face of grace is to me. I start to really see grace in very few people’s faces, and when I do, I’m humbled…I’m drawn to them. They become personal heroes. They give because they want to give. They just don’t take. They don’t use. They think beyond themselves without expecting something back. They give to charity without guilting other people. They don’t grumble. They encourage without jealousy. They are the ones to cheer about moments in your life, all the million pictures you have of your kids, the ones who still make it a point to acknowledge there are other people in the world besides them.

As I write this, I think about my own face. I’m afraid that while pursuing grace- being gracious and forgiving, I’m still torn like I was when I was confronted by that friend when I was in my late teens. I still long for people to give back. But that’s not what grace is. If I keep expecting, I will always lose. 

So as I get older, grace isn’t just a beautiful word. When we receive grace, we think it’s amazing, but when we’re challenged to give grace, why is it so impossible?

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