I did something really stupid on Tuesday. It involved liquid and electronics—electronics that didn’t belong to me. And every time I think about it, I think of what I could and should have done differently. I knew not to take drinks back where all the tech equipment is kept, but I was just setting something down. I knew that my stuff really should go somewhere else, but the other room was locked and I didn’t want to go to the trouble of unlocking it, and I didn’t want to leave my computer out. Plus, we were getting ready to meet. And I knew that I was tired, and as a result, wasn’t paying too much attention, but I’d just had too much to do the night before, so I didn’t get to bed at a good time.
But within five minutes, those excuses went from good reasons to poor reasoning. It was too late, and the damage was done. Yes, it was an accident, but it was also largely my fault. I felt horrible. The strange thing was, nobody yelled at me. I almost wish they had, though.
If I owned the equipment that had been damaged, I would have been really upset, and I probably would have let the person responsible for it know. What was shown to me, however, was grace. Nobody was happy about it, but nobody got mad, either. People just jumped in and fixed it, covering for me. And then they moved on—much faster than I did. Nobody held it over my head, nobody told me I had to make up for what I’d done.
But all day, I held it over my head. I told myself that I had to redeem myself by pulling it together and completing the rest of my responsibilities perfectly. I couldn’t move on. There was no way that grace could actually work like that.
As I begin to let myself believe that it was true, I became free. I was free to do what I needed to, and I was able to do it to the very best of my ability. Not because I had to earn my way back up, but because I knew that I was loved in spite of myself.
I’ve been surrounded by people who are an out-loud example of God’s grace. They’re the same people who, when I was too tired to drive home that afternoon, worked with me to get both me and my car home without me having to drive. They’re the people who are kind in return even when I am ungracious, but they’re also not afraid to tell me when I’m edgy and remind me that they, too, should be treated with kindness.
They are kingdom citizens.
They’re the people who have walked with me through the best of times and the worst of times. They tell me with their actions that I’m loved for who I am, not for whatever I have to bring to the table. And they make me want to be like them, to surround them and others with that kind of love.
Because that’s the kind of love that sets us free to change the world.