Mercy Instead Of A Punch In The Face

Mercy Instead of a Punch in the Face

When I was still wading through my corporate career, I was stabbed in the back by someone I considered a friend.

Carol and I had worked on project teams together. We collaborated well, seeming to be on the same page almost all the time. I was always glad to find out she was assigned to a team on I was on. We just worked together that well.

Then things became a bit strained when we both applied for the same job. It would be a big step for either of us. Both of us were well-qualified. Both of us received the invitation to interview.

The day before my interview my manager called me into his office to let me know that a rumor about me was circulating which had the hiring VP a bit nervous. The rumor was that I had been drunk at a recent meeting, acting unprofessional and loud. I laughed. He did not. Because he thought it was true.

My personal rule of conduct for 30 years in business was to never mix alcohol with business. Ever. I told him that, which was kind of ironic since I had worked for him for three years and he had never noticed my glass of iced tea at dinner, when others were enjoying some fine wine.

He told me he would call her and explain that to her.

A reputation is a hard thing to lose. Especially when it is undeserved.

I made a couple of phone calls to trusted colleagues, explaining – no sobbing – about the problem. One made a call of support to the VP on my behalf. The other engaged with her network and got to the bottom of it. It turned out that Carol was the rumor-spreader.

I honestly wanted to punch her in the throat. The ‘world’ told me she deserved it. The ‘world’ told me to confront her. The ‘world’ told me to snitch on her to the VP and to my manager.

I prayed a lot about it. I did. But the feeling of betrayal did not go away, even when I knew I had to grant her the mercy she did not deserve, and even extend the grace of kindness.

I gave her mercy by refraining from injuring her gossipy mouth. I gave her grace by texting her to wish her luck on her interview. I did what my sinful human nature despised. It was like fingernails on a chalkboard.

My interview went well, although it felt more strained than I had hoped it would be. Probably more my problem than the VP’s. I did not get the job. She assured me it wasn’t because of that nasty rumor, but that the person she hired was more qualified. I had to trust that, even though it was Carol who was hired.

I saw Carol in the hall a few days later. The look on her face when she saw me approaching told it all. I was the last person she wanted to see. I felt her whole body stiffen as I gave her my usual friendly hug of greeting. My heart ached as I did it. Betrayal is so hard to fathom and reconcile in your head. I hadn’t yet reached a place to confront, as I hadn’t processed all of it yet.

In retrospect, the whole thing turned out for good. The position changed from requiring 25% of your time on the road, to a whopping 75% which would have meant that I would have rarely been home. It was a blessing.

But more than that, I learned the difference between mercy and grace. I spared her physical harm, and then took that extra step and gave her what she didn’t expect.

Even more than the actual acts of refrain and release, I learned that giving grace gives you perspective. After I got past my daydream of a throat-punch, and I got past the gagging from sending the good-luck text, I sat back to meditate on the mess a bit.

It unlocked a level of kindness I did not know I had access to. I felt kinder towards her than I would have ever expected. There was a sadness I felt for her. Did she really think that was the only way she could get the job? Did she really think so little of herself that she thought she needed to sabotage someone else?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others before yourself. ~Philippians 2.3

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there will be disorder and every evil practice. ~James 3.16

Two years later her life was in complete disorder. Divorced. Unemployed. Whatever drove her selfish ambition was something bigger than just stabbing one person. Or perhaps it was the first step down that slippery slope.

For me, mercy won. Not doing to her what she deserved – not sabotaging her career, not waiting in envy to make her look bad at my first chance – was giving her mercy undeserved. And God’s grace that is showered over me every day made it the easy next step, the one that healed me.

Mercy and Grace. So intimately connected. When mercy is done well, done because it was what was done to us, grace flows right out of the other end of it.


Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Diane Karchner
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  1. Rebecca Preston on September 6, 2016 at 7:19 AM

    Wow. What a story. What a message. And yes, mercy done well allows for grace to flow out. Beautiful.

    • Diane on September 6, 2016 at 7:47 AM

      Thanks, my friend.

  2. ruth m sill on September 6, 2016 at 9:07 PM

    Diane, this was really valuable for me…thank you for the reminder grace gives you perspective.” I really want those kind of lenses…

  3. Gretchen Hanna on September 7, 2016 at 9:08 PM

    I love this, and am trying really, REALLY hard not to be just a teeny bit glad that she got what she deserved in the end, because that’s not nice, nor Christlike. See? I’m going against my sinful nature because of this post. 😉 In all seriousness, though, this is such a beautiful example of the Lord loving you hard enough that you could love others (in the form of mercy and grace), and really, you were the ‘winner’ of so much more than that job. Thank you for sharing, Diane.

  4. Tara on September 10, 2016 at 3:08 PM

    Some people call it karma, not sure what I call it, but when I read your story part of me (like Gretchen) was glad that Carol reaped what she sowed. But a greater part of my heart broke for her, that she lacked such faith and belief in herself.
    I have a co-worker right now that is very difficult to deal with, so difficult in put her name in my prayer journal and right next to it I wrote the word empathy. Each day I pray that God will soften my heart to her and I can continue to extend to her grace and kindness- when I’d really like to lace up those awesome red boxing gloves and give her a good ka-pow in the noggin!

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