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Message of Faith: Discovering God's grace in unusual places

Managing Editor

Published: Saturday, February 9, 2013

Updated: Saturday, February 9, 2013 18:02


In high school, I was in an abusive relationship for nearly two years.

I know that statement sounds intense, and in some ways it is very intense. In others, it seems to be the most natural thing in the world; it’s such a normal part of mylife.

Regardless, this week has been the first time I’ve realized the nature of what happened, and I’ve had to start healing. Among other things, it’s been emotionally draining, and I’ve been struggling to talk with God about the whole thing.

This week’s faith column is going to require a little backstory on my life, so bear with me.

For those of you that don’t know me, one of the things that I’m most passionate about is my fiance, Ryan. We have been dating three years, and are to be married in early August. I adore him! He is my best friend and he has been by my side in discovering and working through my past abuse, as well as many other seasons of my life.

The other important thing that you need to know is I frequently experience flashbacks of my past relationship. When I’m not experiencing flashbacks, I struggle to remember exactly what happened. When I’m in a flashback, my mind shoots me back to a situation from the past. I feel like I’m 15 again and my life is out of control.

When I go into a flashback, in my mind I often see my ex-boyfriend instead of my fiance. They have absolutely nothing in common. If my self-analysis is correct, it has something to do with the fact that they have been my two major romantic interests. I transpose the feelings I have towards my ex-boyfriend onto Ryan. While in a flashback, I’m afraid of Ryan. I often find myself running away from him, thinking he is my ex-boyfriend, and he will hurt me.

Being the good guy he is, this naturally hurts his feelings because he doesn’t want to be associated with someone who caused me so much pain.

If he left me, I would understand. I come with some baggage that would be a lot easier left unpacked. However, he reassures me that he’s not going anywhere and that he’s here for me through anything.

When I run away from him, he lovingly reminds me who he is and of the relationship we have until I calm down. He then lets me talk to him about the details of what I was remembering.

All of this astounds me. I can’t understand what I’ve done to make him care so much about me. I was talking with a close friend about this the other day.

I explained that I couldn’t figure out why Ryan’s still with me. Most people would have left me months ago.

She reminded me that Ryan is with me because he loves me. In reply, I told my friend that I don’t feel that I deserve his love, devotion and care.

To this she replied, “What is love that we don’t deserve? ... It’s grace. In the absence of feeling able to talk to God about everything that’s been happening, Ryan is showing you the love and grace of Christ through his devotion to you.”

It’s as if God placed Ryan in my life, at least in part, to display a human version of His love for me. I recognize Ryan will, and never can, replace or come before God in my life. He is God’s gift to me, to show me in a tangible way what grace really looks like.

It’s working. No sermon or Sunday school lesson has ever been able to depict God’s selfless grace and love the way that Ryan has demonstrated that grace to me.

So this week, I challenge you to look for Christ in others. Certainly don’t replace Christ, but see if you can find attributes of Christ in friends, family and strangers.

Furthermore, I challenge you to be the human manifestation of Christ to others in your life. Speaking from experience, you may have no idea how powerful that may be.

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