Fighting Grace by Christie Pettus

Fight or Flight – My entire life I’ve leaned heavily on the fight side. Always Be Prepared. Get ready for battle. There’s a certain level of confidence that comes with knowing I’m at least ready. I might not win, but I’m prepared to put up a fight. Lately, I’ve been wondering if living life ready for battle is the best way to live? Always thinking about life in a win or lose mentality puts you at odds with those around you. They become teammates or opponents vs. friends and neighbors. Putting people into those boxes can make it hard to forgive when I’ve been wronged. It makes it hard to offer grace to the person sitting on the other side of my team.

I keep hearing the same words over and over again – Forgiveness, Grace, Stand Down, and my answer is always the same.

“But sometimes they don’t deserve my grace.”

God’s convicting response?

“You don’t deserve mine.”

Ouch. It’s true. Even on the best of days,

My mentality isn’t just reserved for those in opposition but also those on the “same team.” When dealing with a particularly rough parenting spell with my son, I found myself fighting so hard to get him to understand that his actions were not those of the kind of boy we have raised him to be. That he is called to be. I found myself using words that were defining him as anything but forgiven – “Good kids don’t say those things.” “This proves to me exactly who you are.”

I was defining him based on an hour of mistakes and not a lifetime of choices – good and bad. A lifetime that is still short and full of learning. I was going to battle, not with an “enemy” but my own son, and my biggest weapon were words that offered no forgiveness for mistakes. No understanding that he will fall short just like all of us do. I was offering him no grace. Parenting can provide the most humbling of experiences and the lessons can hurt the most. The reality of what I was doing hit me hard and fast, and it changed the way I approached what sometimes does feel like a battle with my own children. My reactions and words should mirror those of God. They should be filled with grace, understanding, and sometimes reprimands that can be harsh but are always fair. If God approached my missteps the way I was approaching my son’s, I would have thrown my hands up in the air a long time ago asking what’s the point. I can’t possibly live up.

Recently, that same boy was watching Ryan and I argue over something that in the grand scheme of things was pointless. Neither of us wanted to give. We were both choosing the side of fight. My son pulled me into the front room where we have a family board that includes the saying, “ You’re Right, I’m Wrong, I Love You, I’m Sorry” and he told me in a very mature way for a ten year old to look at that saying surrounded by our family photos. His exact words were, “Look at that wall and those pictures and just say your sorry.” I had not modeled forgiveness for him, but in a grace-filled parenting moment, God showed me that even though I didn’t get it right, He didn’t just forgive me, but He stepped in and made sure my son knew the art of grace.

We are supposed to give when others don’t deserve. We must forgive the unforgivable. We must offer grace in the same way that it has been offered to us – with no expectations. It’s really the only way to live into the life that God has called us to live. Sometimes that means taking off our boxing gloves. Sometimes it means gracefully walking away whether we are right or wrong even if the fight in us is screaming otherwise.