Grace When You’re Gobsmacked
Oh, it’s so very hard — to have patience, to remain open and empathetic — when we’re gobsmacked [flabbergasted, astonished, or speechless]. When someone says or does something that leaves us completely gobsmacked, it can be a challenge to stay calm. Must we be loving when someone intentionally pokes and prods?! Must we be generous with forgiveness?! Must we really extend grace when a smack upside the head seems so much more appealing?! Yeah. Grace, always. Even when it hurts.
Author Augustine Mandino wrote, “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.”
It’s a lofty goal, but one worthy of time and attention. I know (trust me!) how hard it is to extend grace when you really don’t want to. But it gets easier. Each and every outpouring of courtesy and kindness stops our focus on me and instead, shines a light on you … be that other person a stranger, acquaintance, relative or friend. Grace changes our defensive moves into an offensive strategy that usually defeats an opponent before they know what happened. Grace can transform a situation with shock and awe or wonder and realization. It’s never the same, and you never know how it will work. But it does.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:30-31
Grace for everyone. Grace for every encounter. Grace in good times and bad. If for no other reason than it’s time to gobsmack — to astonish — mean girls and guys and the heartless world with a spoonful of sugar. And for the record, grace does not mean condoning bad behavior or agreeing to evil intention. Grace does not mean giving up your moral compass to extend an olive branch to the enemy. In fact, grace may be directed at another person, but it’s really about changing ourselves.
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” ~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity