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July 21 • Relative Grace?

Day 743

I am not real good at being compassionate with myself. I'm much better than I've been for most of my life, but I still have miles to go.

As far as compassion for other people with similar problems, my memory is of mixed reactions. The closer someone was to me, it seems, the more judgmental I was against them and their behaviors. For casual acquaintances, I was often more than gracious. I have walked with employees through addiction struggles, and have testified in court on behalf of people seeking leniency for their recovery. I have defended young men in legal jeopardy for publicly acting out sexually. I have been a friend to fallen pastors when others have abandoned them. My favorite phrase was,

"This is the same man I knew before, I just know more about him now."

With that, I would encourage others to show mercy, often with little success.

But when I learned that my best friend or a close relative had fallen and was struggling to get up, my indignities flared, and my self-righteousness cast them from my life.

I've not talked about this in meetings or with a counselor before. In fact, I don't remember processing my reactions to this conclusion with anyone until now. I'm sure there is a lot of fodder for analysis here, ministering to those at a distance while rejecting those close to me. Shouldn't the reality be the opposite? Should I not have more grace for those I love compared to those I might like a lot?

Maybe the pattern of my having less grace the closer the violation gets to me helps explain why I am least compassionate toward myself at ground zero. When I learned of my best friend's secret life and multiple affairs, I was outraged at how he could do that to ME, and not the least bit worried about his personal turmoil or circumstance.

And now I feel like the only person I could really count on, myself, has committed the ultimate betrayal against myself. Once again, it appears to be all about me. Wow.

To be honest, I must include that in the case of my best friend's acting out, I was shamefully jealous. He was doing what I was only fantasizing about. And then one day...

It's amazing how hanging around addicts can calm the spirit and strengthen the will and the heart for forgiveness and grace.

Today I will be gentle with myself and my friends. That doesn't mean rationalizing or minimizing anything we've done, but just looking for the next right thing, and I think this is it.




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