Abuse and Grace

Nobody writes about tear-stained keyboards. It just sounds silly. Unlike those ancient authors who wept over literal ink on paper, I’ll see the blurry letters before me clear up when my eyes dry.

Again last week, I read a story of abuse. One person, believing himself to be right and just, injured another who was weaker. The physical injuries eventually healed – mostly. But the emotional injuries erupted again last week, some thirty years later. These stories seem to be more and more common.

But this time, I knew the person who was hurt.

At first I was livid. Why didn’t the abuser stop when they saw the damage they were doing? Were they blind? Were they heartless? And now, how do we make things right? Make them pay for what they —

And then I saw myself.

I saw myself in my own times of weakness, making the same decisions they did. Reaching the same conclusions. Seeing my own righteousness and feeling compelled to create it in others – by physical force if necessary – because I had a responsibility to train them.

I saw myself in high school making painfully sharp comments to my classmates. (Oh, but of course they were “true.”) I saw my eighth-grade self tricking people to reveal embarrassing private details in a public setting. Why haven’t I been publicly shamed over these foolish and hurtful choices I now deeply regret?

That’s God’s grace.

Why, when I was driven to force repentance under my own power, did I stop short of injury?

That was God’s grace.

For that matter, why have my distracted moments behind the wheel of a car resulted in close calls and near misses instead of fatal accidents? Why, many times when I’m strongly tempted to sin, does something interfere to prevent the opportunity?

Yes, that’s God’s grace, too.

It is only by God’s grace that I am not the culprit in yet another story of pain, regret, sorrow, and loss.

I can’t thank Him enough, and I pray I never take that grace for granted.

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