Grace is the Car Picking Up the Hitchhiker

21 Feb

Today, because of grace, I lost a friend.

A friend who doesn’t believe in God or in right or wrong (fair enough) but does, apparently, believe in justice. And although that seems completely contradictory, I refuse to comment because I need only look at myself to see plenty more contradictions.

And this friend always seems to pop up at the bad times. You know – you really want to have it all together one day, be a sunshiny joyful person radiating confidence and then hang out with them. But no…hanging out always happens smack in the rough patches when you are doubting yourself, doubting God, doubting His love, doubting your ability to spear a piece of lettuce without erupting in a rant. And you always think “Well, they are getting to see the real raw me. (Lucky them!)” Except then you realize “But they are only ever seeing the real raw me! How can I try to offer them hope or understanding or peace when I’m always the one in need of it?”

Honestly, it gets to the point where you dread making plans because that means you’ll be having a bad patch then. You can predict the patches by the plans. It’s like in college when we always had a midnight fire drill or alarm when I had an exam at 8 am the next morning. It’s a wonder my roommates let me continue taking 8 am classes.

So today my friend stopped by and he enquired as to why I was doing nothing (fever) and why I was teary and showing weakness. I decided this was my moment to shine, to prove what obedience and love demonstrated in action looks like! (Always beware bursts of sudden pride.)

So I told him that I was going to do the right thing and extend grace to someone who had hurt me. I was going to forgive, lay down any rights to feeling used and trampled on, and give something undeserved – grace.

He was horrified.

Liz, you’re a good person! No one should ever hurt you!

(Explanation ensued of how deeply flawed I am and how I have received unmerited favor every single day. And I shouldn’t be receiving it without giving it. “And yes,” I said to his quizzical face, “I need to receive it as much as I need to breathe. So I equally need to give it.”)

The questions continued: Don’t you want justice? Don’t you want explanation and apology? Don’t you want groveling and being begged for forgiveness? Is this friend remorseful? Or just upset they failed you? Or failed at something? Or will lose your friendship? Or couldn’t keep everyone happy? Or got found out? Or….the litany/inquisition continued while I drank Powerade and contemplated how justice matters to someone who “lives on a planet of gray” and “watches out for himself and the few worthwhile people” he knows. Hey, at least I’d stopped crying. Trust me, extending grace does not kill you, but it does require dying to selfish instincts.

He was shocked. Stunned. Horrified. Likened me to someone who is “abused but denies it and goes back for more” which is so far from reality, not only because I’m not someone to be messed with…

So, he told me he couldn’t stand by me doing this. He’d had enough with grace. Grace is for weaklings. And calmly requested me to delete his contact info.

So, I’m a weakling. A weakling in awe of the grace I’ve been granted and the mercy I’ve been shown. And realizing that grace is the car that always picks up the hitchhiker because it’s always going in the direction I’m headed.

“I don’t at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are at and never leaves us there.” Anne Lamott.

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2 Responses to “Grace is the Car Picking Up the Hitchhiker”

  1. becky fox February 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    Liz, i love you. This is a good post. I’m sorry you lost a friend over the issue of grace.. but it takes more strength (God-given-grace-filled-strength) to be a weakling in awe of grace than it does to take his angle..

  2. Susanna February 21, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    Wow. That’s pretty crazy. And ironic. Very ironic. I only hope one day he realizes how much he’s in need of that same kind of grace, and embraces it.

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