My Story of Grace // Jamie Hagan / by Jamie Hagan

    Grace can come from those we’re close to. Justin and my family have definitely showed me grace, as I’ve started arguments or had a bad day. I’m thankful for them, but at a certain point, we come to expect grace and forgiveness from those who love us. But a couple of years ago, I experienced grace from a very unlikely source; Justin’s ex-girlfriend and her family.
    Now, my life has never been marked by drama, but with this story you may not believe me. Justin and I met during our freshmen year of college, on a mission trip to England. Our school is pretty small, but up until the spring semester we’d never had any interaction with each other before. But on this trip, we instantly became friends and spent most of our time with a group of four of us that bonded close together. We both were dating other people at the time; my boyfriend had been someone I met at a summer job and we’d only been dating a short while. Justin and his girlfriend had been together 3 1/2 years and were long-distance while he was at college. While we maintained a friendship during our time in England, as the trip came to a close Justin and I realized that we had a lot of decisions to make as we both admitted we had started to develop feelings for each other.    
    I’d just say long-story short, we started dating after we got back to school, but I think that would undermine a lot of the hardships that we dealt with over the next few months and even years into our relationship. This process of breaking up and dating, we didn’t take it lightly. We both knew we would be hurting a lot of people who hadn’t done anything wrong. Both of the people we had been dating were good people, who we’d had a good relationship with. Justin especially, with the length of his relationship, had become a part of another family. We knew that if we started this relationship, it had to be something we were willing to take seriously, because of the surrounding circumstances. We talked about it a lot, and with others that we trusted, but as you may have guessed, we did decide to date.
    And it was hard for a long time. Justin comes from a small town, where a lot of people knew his relationship and were very shocked at his break up. The next year, his ex-girlfriend came to the college, and we had to learn how to navigate that aspect. Justin even lost some friends over the break-up and that was really hard on him. We hated that our decision to date had broken so many good relationships.
    As time went on, things got easier. His ex started dating one of their mutual friends, and things became less awkward. Running into each other at school wasn’t that bad, and Justin began to talk to some of his old friends again. Soon the mountains that we had been facing, looked smaller. Justin and I got married before our senior year of college, and a year later his ex and his friend were married. At that point, the events that took place our freshman year seemed far away and just another part of the story that got us to where we are today. But I think this is one of the coolest parts of my personal story, because of God’s grace. Justin’s ex is now a friend of ours. Her and her husband have visited us in New England. Her parents are amazing and write and support us each month. When we visit Illinois, they call us to grab coffee and pray for us and the ministry in Rhode Island.
    The world we live, nobody would expect for this type of relationship to come out of so much pain, and hurt, and broken hearts. But the thing that unifies us is Jesus. He allowed Justin’s ex and her family to see a bigger picture, and to replace what the world would say is the right emotion of anger, vengeance or just to ignore us, with love and support. Because of their love for Him, they have been able to become some of our biggest encouragers. I know that I am so thankful for their unexpected grace, and how much it’s allowed for healing for everyone involved. And if Jesus really can allow ex’s to become friends, anything else is possible, right?