Accepting An Apology With Grace
A recent encounter with one of my doctors made me recall the times my sisters and I enjoyed telling each other, “Told you so!” or, “I knew I was right!” We were competitive and bossy little girls, but as we grew older, we matured and found it easier to let go of the need to always be right and started to support each other without judgment.
I wish I could say that this form of grace automatically extends to every area of my life, but I keep realizing that I need to grow and… that takes effort.
God continues to stretch me as I look for evidence of His grace at work in my life. And while I’m facing a new set of chronic issues, I am surprised that they helped me see God’s grace from a new point of view.
What have these issues exposed?
The difficulty I have in gracefully receiving an apology, and also how relying on God provides the strength I need to walk in love.
You see, I had been on an eighteen-month quest to discover the cause of increased back pain. I went through several tests and countless appointments. But my doctors seemed to dismiss my questions and concerns, even when I kept a diary and discussed the new symptoms and tried to describe how this pain was different. No matter how much I tried to get them to understand, they seemed to think I was going through an intense flare.
I lost weight and felt myself becoming depressed, like I was out of options. Hopeless. Finally, I admitted this to my doctor. “How can I continue living like this? I feel like I’m losing control!”
“I’ve never seen this level of discomfort on your face,” she told me. “You never look anxious when you come in, no matter what you are dealing with.”
We talked as she examined me and I agreed to see a doctor in the physical medicine department. The doctor there approached my case from a different angle. After several more tests, the physical medicine doctor confirmed my suspicions – a change in my lower spine.
I needed a consultation with a neurosurgeon.
He reviewed my tests and told me, “These discs are pinching your nerve in a weird place. This is the cause of your pain.” He laid out a treatment plan and schedule. “If things improved, surgery won’t be needed.
When I returned to my regular doctor, she walked in the room and said, “Mrs. Love, I owe you a tremendous apology. I am so sorry! I should have been a better advocate for you. Even if you couldn’t describe the difference between the pain, I should have probed and kept asking questions until we identified the problem.”
I felt vindicated!
I wanted to shout and tell her that I knew all along she was wrong and I was right, but I couldn’t. I felt a prick in my heart.
The anger I wanted to hold onto evaporated. Sympathy replaced it as she spoke from her heart. I heard the pain, sorrow, and regret.
We reached a new level of commitment and made peace. I believed she would not stop trying to help me find relief.
As I sat on the exam table that afternoon, I knew God wanted me to extend grace to her. To show mercy. To remind her how much I valued her as my doctor. To accept her apology with compassion.
“Thank you.” I shook her outstretched hand. “At least we know what I’m facing. Maybe we can get it handled.”
In that moment, I gained insight. She symbolized the times I approached God, my heart broken, because I’d failed, yet again. I deserved His wrath, but the only thing I felt was love and mercy – not the condemnation I deserved.
This journey with my doctor made me think about my life. The times I sensed God’s warning that something needed addressing. Times I brushed off the feeling or totally ignored it. Believing everything was OK. Failing to pray and seek God, to find out what He was trying to tell me.
I would go through my days, convincing myself that I was right whenever I felt conviction. Then, all of a sudden, I heard a sermon, read a book or passage of scripture, and came face to face with my shortcoming, my sin.
The shock of being wrong, of walking in disobedience and rebellion, always took the air out of me, causing me to repent, to beg for mercy and to ask for the strength and courage to change.
Was my doctor any different than me at that moment? No. We were on equal footing.
I had to graciously accept her apology, and to pray for her, asking God to give her the wisdom she needed to help me. To pray that my heart would remain open to each and every lesson He brought into my life.
This encounter with my doctors shows me that mercy and grace are intertwined in our lives. God bestows them on us lavishly. How can we refuse to let them flow to others?
Prayer: Lord, we thank You for Your grace and mercy. For Your love that covers all of our mistakes and failures. For Jesus, our Savior. Never let us forget the cost of our salvation. Teach us to walk in love and harmony with the people in our lives.