Saturday, October 4, 2014

31 Days to Write True: (g)race Settles

I tweeted something yesterday about my transit woes and my feelings of inadequacy and my sadness over how not only will I never be a real New Yorker, but I don't even put on a good front.

A friend on Twitter encouraged me, told my I was being too hard on myself, and also offered a me a powerful idea. I had mentioned the lady who swiped my card telling me that "it takes awhile to get used to" in a very kind way when I thanked her for helping me. My friend counseled me to "let the grace that she gave me settle on me".

My, what a wonderful idea. And what a hard practice. I have a hard time giving MYSELF grace. I think a lot of people do. But letting someone else- a stranger?- give me grace is HARD. Because it means I have to admit that I'm not perfect. That's why it was so hard to accept her kindness and move on. Not only do I want to be move through the city effortlessly and efficiently with my two young children, I don't want anyone to take notice when I'm unable to.

So it's hard to let go and let the grace settle. Because if I keep saying how bad I suck at this, it's serves as sort of a protective mechanism. I get to say it before anyone else can. I get to beat them to the punch. When grace settles, I have to acknowledge that someone else saw it and was kind enough to look past it.

I recently read this piece on one of my most favorite blogs. Here is an excerpt I loved:
"I’ll never forget when Kim came over to my apartment one night after work and told me she was pregnant. I was devastated. Not just because the news was a shock or because I hadn’t expected to be a parent at such a young age. I was devastated because everyone who had celebrated my return “to the fold” would think the turnaround was a false alarm. I had caused my family so much pain and heartbreak with my self-absorbed shenanigans, and they had been so relieved and excited that their reckless son had finally come back; it had been the answer to years and years of prayer. I had put my parents through more than any son ever should and had asked for their forgiveness on numerous occasions. To drop this bomb might crush them all over again, and I just couldn’t bear it. I was scared, ashamed, and angry at myself for failing yet again...Kim and I had been so excited about getting married, and now we were going to be parents as well. In addition to the embarrassment and shame involved, we were grieving the happy expectation that we’d have a few years, just the two of us, before starting a family. We were in a state of shock. Yet my father did not condemn or lecture us, even though he had every right to do so. Instead, he comforted us. More than that, he gave us good news. He told us that while the circumstances clearly weren’t ideal, this was going to turn out just fine. This baby was going to be a blessing to both of us and a gift to the whole family. Every time Kim and I look at our oldest son (now eighteen), we realize afresh that my dad was absolutely right that day...My father was not preaching the Gospel to me that day–he didn’t sit me down to tell me that, on account of Christ, my sins were forgiven. Instead, he showed me grace. That is, he treated me in a way that was analogous to how God treats you and me. He was not God, of course, but like many fathers, he did play a similar role in my life: someone in authority who showed me love in the midst of deserved judgment. As it is with big-L and little-l law, if occasionally we use big-G and little-g grace interchangeably, it is not because they are they same thing, but because we often experience them the same way… I was at my least lovable in that instance–a repeat offender whose offense was going to have very real consequences–yet somehow my father treated me as though I’d never been loved more."

Little-g grace can be such a powerful experience, even (maybe especially) when the person on the offering end is a complete stranger. But it does require a certain posture of humility. One that doesn't just say "I failed today" because that's easy enough sometimes when you get to be the only one claiming it, but one that says "I failed today and I let someone else acknowledge it and then I took the lower place", because the one on the receiving end of grace is always the one in the position of humility. Or, they are if they are accepting of it. 

That woman at the train station saw my flaws. She saw my inadequacy. She saw that I was "not enough" in that situation. She saw it whether I wanted her to or not. But it was my choice, as my friend Brittnie said, to let the grace settle. 

I let it settle (after fighting it). I reminded myself that His power is made perfect in my weakness and that if the fact that I miss a train and cause a bunch of other people to miss a train and my face is burning with embarrassment means that His power is made more perfect in my life, it's worth it, even if no one else notices that in the moment. 

*Here is a link to the past posts in this series. You can also find them by clicking on the graphic. 

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