Tuesday, February 24, 2015

a picture of grace

Grace.  Grace is one of my favorite words.  We hear and say that word so often.  We sing it.  We talk about it.  We attempt to live it.  But what does that look like, to live in grace?

My Big Mama was the picture of grace.  Big Mama is my great-grandmother, and she has been in Heaven for several years now.  And, no, she was not a big lady.  I'm honestly not sure where the name came from.  She was my mom's grandmother, and that's what she was called.  She's been in Heaven for a few years now, but I can still see her washing dishes by hand, and I can still hear her humming old hymns.  A child of the depression, among the dishes she washed were plastic cups and utensils after Sunday lunch with a big family.  When I was not quite 9, I saw my need for grace and accepted Jesus as my Savior, following Him to be baptized.  The Sunday I was baptized, my sweet Big Mama gave me a small, silver cross, and it is one of my favorite gifts I've ever received.  She dipped snuff, a habit she picked up from her younger years of working in a mill, but she gave it up for Lent one year and never looked back.  Big Mama's hearing wasn't the best, and when she couldn't understand you, she would ask you to repeat what you said.  If she responded with words, she heard you.  If you got a sweet smile, a nod, and a pat on the arm, she had no idea what you said.  She could hear my sister best of all though, and no one really knows why.  

I'm sure there were times, after raising her children, loving her grandchildren, and watching many of her great-grands grow into young adulthood, when it all seemed heavy.  When her beloved husband died before I was born.  When she buried two of her five children and one of her grandchildren.  When divorce worked its ugly way through the families she worked so hard to provide a firm foundation.  Through the struggles I knew of, the many I was sheltered from, and the many more that I feel sure she kept from all of us, there is one thing my Big Mama always made sure we knew- no matter the circumstance, Jesus will meet you there, and His grace will be all sufficient.  

I recently read The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts.  You should read it, or at least check out her blog here.  Her words have moved me to think more about Heaven, to build real and honest community, to love big with my hands open to whatever the Lord sees fit to give and to take.  To know that, even when life is hard and it hurts and I don't understand, especially then really, to know that I know that I know that there is goodness to be found and grace to meet me there.  There is grace for every moment- every joyful moment, every tearful moment, there is goodness and there is grace, and- the best part- it's enough.  

So what does that grace look like in our every day life, our morning rushes, our lunch hours (you lucky dogs!), our coming, our going, our quiet dinners (or rushed dinners, depending on the day), our work, our play?  How do we live that grace?

I don't claim to have all the answers.  I don't pretend to even have a piece of them.  But I do strive to live openly and honestly.  And grace can take many different forms.  Forgiving those who have hurt you, even if they are not sorry.  Accepting decisions you don't agree with without complaint (I'm not talking compromising conviction.  Use discernment.).  Making eye contact and genuinely asking "how are you?" and waiting to hear the answer.  Cleaning up a mess that isn't yours.  Fixing something you didn't break.  Putting the dishes on hold for 3 minutes to take time to dance.  Praying over a friend who is right in the middle of the valley of the shadow. Repeating yourself one more time, with patience and minimal sarcasm. (note to self...)  Sometimes it's being silent.  Sometimes it's speaking up.  Taking a deep breath in traffic.  Taking an extra turn at a less than desirable task.  Looking over the towel in the floor for the 129th time (sorry, husband!).  Whispering a prayer when you just want to scream.   Loving the best you can- from the center of who you are, as my favorite translation of Romans puts it.  Resting in the knowledge that Jesus is waiting to meet you in each moment, to cover each moment in His grace, and for your heart to know that it's enough.  

What does it look like, when you put actions with your love and walk in grace?  Who is the picture of grace in your life?  

Growing in grace, 

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