by David Blesdoe, DVM
It was a warm Arizona spring evening as we sat in the outdoor eating area of the Lakeside Grill,
which was by no means beside a lake. More like a parking lot. It was warm but my “friends”
there made it as frigid as Frank Burns’ wife.
I was brought there to hopefully find a way to patch things up with another family, but it quickly
became apparent that was not on their agenda. Rather, they intended to stage an intervention
and begin it with an itemization of all my sins; both real and imagined. As a recovering
Evangelical, I knew the drill and the type for whom grace is a great concept until you actually
had to extend it.
Not that I was blameless. I was not and in fact was guilty as charged. I was wrong. I knew it and
had apologized, but no matter the sincerity of my confession, grace from this couple had to be
earned, an oxymoron of Biblical proportions. The meeting ended when I refused to be pushed
any further, was called a “piece of shit” and told to stay away from their family.
Well that went well, don’t you think?
That happened in 2014 and to be honest I haven’t let it go. It still stings and my already high
blood pressure goes up another 20 points every time I think of it.
Anne Lamott has written that “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat
But what if the person you can’t forgive is you? Truth be told, the reason I couldn’t let go
of the way my friends treated me was I believed them. In my mind, they were right. I was a
piece of shit. A guilty piece of shit unworthy of forgiveness. I had already been in the depths of
depression and had only begun to climb out. That sucked me back in again and to this day if I
want to play in the quicksand of self-loathing I only have to remember his face when he told me
to stay away from his family.
In the three years that have passed, I have learned much about grace. I have finally learned to
accept myself as the whole package; by turns erudite and vulgar, loving yet self-centered,
humble and self-righteous. Learning to accept myself made it much easier to accept others. In
fact, it was a requirement.
I still have a hard time forgiving myself for past and future sins. I am decidedly a work in
progress, but I have learned the following:
1. Imperfect people deserve to be loved perfectly: even me.
2. If I am to offer grace to others I must accept it from others.
3. The first person from whom I must accept grace is myself.