I walk into the coffee shop unsure of what to expect. I pray for wisdom, but mostly for grace. I had not seen her since she told me in a message sent. My mind kept flashing back fifteen years. Remembering my lack of grace to similar news from a common friend. Her frustration with my intolerance threatening our friendship. Even though we had remained in touch, there always seemed a tension when we would meet for lunch. The proverbial elephant in the room. I wondered if time and geography caused the distance I sensed or was it my lack of grace and understanding. As time wore on, I knew my lack of grace the cause.
But years and life have changed me as they have her. No longer afraid to share who she is and me no longer blinded by legalistic rules lacking grace and love.
When she shared the news several months ago, there was only one choice. To love her anyway. To accept her as she is, not to condemn her.
At least that is my hope as I park, my quick prayer, as I walk into the coffee shop. It is easy to say I will love her anyway when a computer screen is usually what separates us. How easy it is to comment on a status update instead of face to face? Will the years of learning to accept God loving me just the way I am translate to loving her just as she is?
We order and settle down at a table. We begin to chat and my mind draws to realization. In spite of my lack of grace fifteen years ago, she has always given me grace. Even through the years of underlying tension, she was the one showing me grace.
I had missed it all along.
We talk about family and life. We talk about school and jobs. We solve all the country’s problems in an hour. We share photos from our phones. The tension I always felt no longer there. She unafraid to be who she is now and me unafraid to love her for who she is.
Each sharing without condemning the other for our differing beliefs. I didn’t hide my faith, and she didn’t hide who she is. Wishing for more time, our hour too short to catch up when a thousand miles separate, we part ways promising to keep in touch.
And there was love and there was grace in it all.