“The growth of grace is like the polishing of metals. There is first an opaque surface; by and by you see a spark darting out, then a strong light; till at length it sends back a perfect image of the sun that shines upon it.” -Edward Payson (1783-1827)
I was completely taken off guard. So I just stood there trying to figure out if I had really heard the lady standing in front of me correctly. She stared back at me with a little smirk on her face waiting for my response. After a tiring day, I was looking forward to the mid-week church service and her shocking comment was not how I anticipated starting the evening. I wanted nothing more than to say what I was really thinking in reply. After all, I had a thousand quick remarks all fighting to make their way out of my mouth. Instead, I quickly dismissed myself and headed to my seat replaying the conversation in my head as I walked. I couldn’t understand what prompted the remark she so skillfully quipped my way, but I knew it really had nothing to do with me… I just so happened to be on the receiving end of her long work day and painful divorce. However, the words still stung, the insult still hurt and I was left grasping for the fortitude to handle her with grace. I was in my early twenties and new to being a “pastor’s wife” and the only way I knew how to handle the situation was to just simply walk away.
As ministers a majority of our work is done when no one is looking. However, the small percentage that is done in the public eye is often subject to scrutiny and differing opinions. After all, the goal of most churches is to minister to people from all different walks of life and with that also comes a variety of beliefs and views. It would be wonderful to keep everyone happy all of the time. But unfortunately, for the most part, we are not able to maintain that goal. At times it can be difficult to handle every one appropriately. Especially if words are spoken against something that you or your spouse have put your time, energy and devotion into. So, as wives and as ministers alongside our husbands how do we handle opposition and painful reminders that we may have disappointed someone? What is something we can pray for daily to help us be a beautiful reflection of our church, husbands and most importantly our faith?
It’s hard and I’m certainly not there myself, but I am asking God to help me live a life full of grace and compassion. I’m realizing that the closer I get to God, the more of His Grace I reflect in my words and actions. When left to myself I am not strong enough to turn the other cheek, but when my love for God is joined with His love for people…Grace is sure to follow. To extend love and understanding when insults are fired is not easy nor is it a sign of weakness. It doesn’t show agreement with the aggressor’s comments or actions and it doesn’t give them the upper hand. Instead, it allows us to grow in an area that can easily be stifled in the pursuit of justice. It can push us closer to the image we long to reflect and make us strong in the face of opposition. My prayer is that I would always extend grace to others; after all it has been abundantly extended to me on multiple occasions!