I am a fast-talking person whose mouth sometimes gets me into trouble. Sticky situations happen more than I’d like to admit. Fortunately, sometimes I see God work through the humiliating messes I make and teach me something important.
If you know me personally, this Friday Confession won’t be new to you; if you are a blog friend, I know this post is long, but I hope you’ll have a chance to read it anyway:
My family moved about 5 years ago. I loved my old neighborhood, and I was nervous about making new friends in my new home. As I settled in, I waited hopefully for a family to move into a vacant house a few doors down. I prayed that they would have young children and that we would be friends.
One day, as I pulled into my driveway, I saw people in the kitchen window of the vacant house. It was a family! Instead of calmly driving up to my house and coming back later, I pulled over and jumped out of my car. I had always tried to be super-friendly in my old neighborhood, and I wasn’t going to let two cranky toddlers and a full bladder stop me from rolling out the welcome mat!
As I crossed the lawn, a cute mom came out of the house holding a baby and leading a four year old by the hand. Jackpot! As I introduced myself, the wheels started turning. This woman had potential… best friend potential! I pictured us swapping babysitting, planning Halloween parties, the works.
My kids yelled and screamed, wanting to get out of the car, but I was on a roll. Within two minutes, the woman knew ½ my life story, where I attended church, and where the best parks were.
When I pointed out my house, I launched into an amusing tale that I had told pretty much the whole neighborhood since moving in. Yes, we liked our house, but we knew we had overpaid for it. Why? Well, we got into a massive bidding war with some random couple that jacked the price up 11,000 dollars. The hilarious things was that by looking at the signatures on the documents I figured out I had dated the husband in college. Ha! Ha! She and I laughed together.
A few moments later the woman said something that hit me like a freight train. It became obvious to me, but somehow not to her, that I had been talking about her and her husband. They were the ones who had lost the bid on our house. They were the ones I was gossiping about. Crap. Crappity-Crap. Crap.
I felt sick and ashamed; I wanted to move. My whole life I had been so proud of making people feel good about themselves, and for being loving. Yet here I was, talking about someone, insensitively, right to her face.
At this point I could have fled, but I knew I had to address the situation immediately. Full of misery, I confessed my mistake and asked her to forgive me. Do you know what she said with a warm smile on her face? “That’s okay. We extroverts do that sometimes!” I wanted to kiss her.
This woman, a total stranger, helped illustrate to me, in a very real way, what GRACE means. I did not deserve her favor, her forgiveness, but she gave it to me anyway. I felt low, terrible, and ashamed of myself, but she made it right.
At that point I had a choice to make. I could wallow in my mistake, bringing it up again and again, even though it no longer bothered her. I could try to AVOID her, because seeing her would remind me of my own faults, OR I could accept what she offered and move forward.
This is the way it is with God. He offers us forgiveness and grace even though we can’t earn it and don’t deserve it. If we accept it, there is no need to look at the past anymore. Instead, we can move forward in a relationship.
Since that time, my neighbor and I have become super-close. We are freakishly alike and we know we can be real with each other. When she and her husband had their third child, Tom and I were blessed to be asked to be the godparents. This rich relationship wouldn’t have been possible without her offer of grace, and my acceptance of it.