My phone buzzes in my hand and my heart begins to pound as I glance down and see the name on the screen. My cheeks flush hot and I feel the adrenaline rising in my chest. I don’t want to have this conversation. Please, not right now. It feels too hard.
My heart aches while hot tears fill my eyes. I close them and whisper, “Lord, give me your strength. Help me stay calm. Show me how to love this person today.”
In my job, I work closely with other people, and people are beautiful, broken, messy business partners. I work long, hard, backbreaking days caring for other people’s treasures. But, being human, sometimes I make mistakes… and sometimes someone else makes a mistake, but as the person in charge, I’m the one who gets to answer the phone call.
In these moments it’s so easy for me to fall into self-pity. When someone accuses me of something I didn’t do, or questions my integrity or character. When angry words are slung like mud and stain my breaking heart. When all I want is to scream, “Look at everything I’ve done for you!” but all they can see is everything I didn’t.
These moments, the moments that stretch me, pain me, and break me, have become the best place for me to practice doing good to those who have hurt me.
When they accuse me of wrongdoing, I can be the first to take ownership of my mistakes.
Where their words sting, mine can soothe.
When tempers rise, I can be the one to remain calm.
And if they walk away, I can choose to love them anyway.
I view these conflicts as an opportunity to see and serve the Imago Dei. What I can’t see from my end of the phone is the life being lived behind the other speaker. Perhaps there’s sickness, or divorce, or financial hardship. Strained relationships, a crisis of faith, addiction, or job loss. Maybe they’re just having a really bad day. I don’t know all the cause-and-effect that’s led up to our hard conversation. But I do know that the person on the other end of the line is made in the image of God, and as such is deserving of the utmost love and grace.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt 5:44) I can’t say I had many chances to practice this kind of radical forgiveness in my life before this job, and what few chances I was given I had failed at miserably. But as I’ve been given opportunities to strengthen this muscle, I’ve been overcome by the abundant life I’ve found waiting on the other side.
Forgiveness heals us both.
Kindness comforts both our hearts.
And Jesus’ blood covers it all.
Connect with Caitie:
Caitie is a writer and speaker who dreams of the day it becomes on earth as it is in heaven. Caitie’s work focuses on the intersection of faith, mental health, and culture. Caitie and her husband Sam live in Southwest Washington with their miniature dachshund, Baron.
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