Responding with grace is hard, but lately that is what I have felt in my heart. I was reading an adoption blog, and there was a small sentence about extending grace to people around us. That stuck in my mind as I thought about some difficult conversations I have had with a family member. She does not understand our adoption and is rather vocal about it in family situations. My instant reaction was to defend my position, defend my family and argue my way through the conversation. I have tried to have private conversations explaining our journey, all the way God has provided and orchestrated every single detail. I thought, if I just explained it eloquently enough, she would see that something beautiful is transpiring and she would join in our excitement. Well, that didn't happen no matter what my strategy was.
Then, I decided to respond with grace. When a hurtful comment was made, instead of feeling righteous, I responded with grace and kindness. When she did not ask questions about the status of our adoption, instead of feeling hurt, I enjoyed her company as it was. When a funny story from our trip to Ghana came to mind, instead of forcing her to listen to it, I shared it with someone else. Grace. Grace. Grace. I can't say that it was easy. My lip was bloody from all the times I bit it to prevent my mouth from responding in anger and hatred. I practiced deep breathing to lower my blood pressure as it began to rise.It was a constant effort to overcome my own sin in the responses I gave.
As the dynamic of our relationship began to shift, I realized that responding with grace was just as much for me as it was for her. Slowly, the tension began to melt, my guard came down and I relaxed again in her company. Trust was being built and conversations have honesty behind them. True reasons for this hesitancy to support us became clearer and progress was made. Once I was able to extend grace, she responded with honesty. This would have not happened with my typical response.
A few weeks ago, we realized that in order to afford the final part of our adoption, we would need to raise funds. As we were praying about our options, this same family member called and offered to help. She is now fervently advocating on our children's behalf and I can see that God is using this situation to foster healing.
The only reason I share something this personal is that I know there are other struggling with a friend or a family member who is less than enthusiastic about something in our lives. It could be because of adoption or any life situation that God calls us to that is "out of the comfort zone" for people. What is the response that I should have? What yields the desired result? For me, it has been grace. Over and over and over again.