It's when I began to think of how gracious Grandma Grace is that I realized something I had missed for too many years.... "grace" is an action. It is a choice more than a feeling. It is verb as much as it is an adjective. Grace is what we choose to give to others whether they deserve it or not...whether we feel like it or not. The Bible commands grace even to those who disagree with us.
Grace is not something that is natural to my essential being. In fact, over the years, my parents have reminded me (on more than one occasion) that I am not graceful. They are not saying this to hurt my feelings, they are speaking the truth (in love, I hope). I have had broken bones because of ungraceful falls (I'll save the embarrassing stories of those for another time....). Not only am I not graceful, I am not naturally a gracious person. I've mentioned before that I tend to think that my way is the right way every single time. Giving grace to someone who disagrees with me is foreign to my nature. However, I serve a God who loves to change people from the inside out.
I hadn't realized that God was developing grace in my heart and life until this week. Sometimes changes come so slowly that it takes me awhile to recognize them for what they are. That was the case with grace this week. I'm currently reading a book that was recommended by two different friends. They are my two closest friends but they have never met. One lives in Ohio, one here in Indiana. Since they both recommended this book, I took their recommendation to heart.
So, I'm reading this recommended book and while there are many great points in this book, I have put it down feeling empty. Typically I devour books. This one, though, I'm going slow because I'm afraid I am missing something, something that would fill me rather than cause me to feel empty. Last night I realized what was missing....grace. This author has some incredible points on the woman's role in marriage. However, in her dogma, she extends very little grace. As I read this book, I'm saddened that she is SO sure her way is the only right way that she extends little or no grace to those who would disagree. She often remarks that her way is THE Biblical way to a better marriage.
God used this to remind me that all of us are sinners saved by grace. Since none of us are God, not one of us can interrupt the Scriptures without error. We try. We attempt to understand what it is God is asking us to do but we are all constantly falling short. To assume that we have the answers that everyone else needs is a dangerous place to be. In my limited understanding, it seems to be a similar to the lie that Satan gave Eve in the Garden of Eden when he told her she could know good and evil by disobeying God's command.
I often say how thankful I am that God hasn't just given up on me. So thankful that he is willing to complete His work in me! I can not wait until the day that He completes me! He is gracious in giving me glimpses from time to time of the work that He is doing in me. One glimpse came yesterday....
My sister posted another raw look into her heart and home on her blog. She honestly said that it is hard to be a public-school mom. She shared how much she misses her children and how much she prays for them. She unashamedly admits that she is doing what she and her husband feel God is calling them to do, even though it is hard. When I read her post, my heart hurt for her. My heart hurt because she hurts.
For the first time, I realized what grace feels like on the inside. I had no feelings of "if you would just pull your kids from school, you could be with them" or "how could the same God call you to put your kids in school while I am SURE He is calling me to keep them home? You must be wrong". Instead, I just prayed for her.
God did the work in my heart to bring about at least a little measure of grace. I am asking Him for more. It feels good. It fills my heart rather than leaving it feel empty and it is freeing to not spend my day dwelling on solving someone else's issues.
Grace. I have to say... it's an amazing action to have your heart take!
On a much lighter note (literally!), I have to tell you about my morning. I hope this will bring a chuckle or two to an otherwise cold day.
We have two dogs. I've mentioned our 10 month old puppy, Ebony, before. We also have an 11 year old Golden named Fred. Fred weighs somewhere around 90 pounds and Ebony weighs around 50, so neither would qualify in the "small dog category".
This morning, I made a brunch of homemade breakfast burritos, complete with homemade tortillas, bacon, eggs, cheese and salsa. I did this so that we could sit down with Chad for a meal before he left for his 12 hour shift at the hospital. When I said grace this morning, I asked for a good day for him. After I was finished I thought "why didn't I ask for a good day for me?"
Of course, the kitchen was a mess and so while I commenced cleaning, I had the kids start on their school work. Chad came out of our room dressed for work singing "oh naughty, naughty doggies!" I looked at Ebony and thought maybe she had snuck out the back door because she looked as if she were covered in snow. Chad laughed..."that's not snow, it's feathers! They were wrestling on our bed." Ohh! Two big naughty, naughty doggies wrestling on my bed!!
I walked into our room and saw a few snowflakes (aka feathers) but when I walked around by our bed it looked like a blizzard had just happened! Feathers everywhere!! Thankfully, I've also been praying about having a "merry heart" lately and I just smiled. Amazingly, no yelling, no screaming, no stomping around. Just a smile, a garbage bag, a vacuum and a puppy sent to her kennel.
I'm not sure what, if anything, I will do with the remaining feathers.... maybe frame one to remind me that a smile makes the messes easier to clean!