“At the depths, even the depths of our mistakes, there is always grace, new space, and more authentic freedom.” – Richard Rohr
Here it is again, the close of another year. 2017 will gently slip into 2018 and in a blink of an eye it will be brand new year before Monday begins.
A year ago at this time I’d decided to focus on grace intently and see what God brought me in the year ahead. Grace was this concept I felt eluded my all too frequently judging mind and longed for the freedom, openness and loving acceptance I hoped it would bring.
So a year ago I wondered with excitment and trepidation: How would this word prove to be a teacher? What challenges lie ahead meaning to teach me what I do not yet know? How will God lead me? Will I become a woman of greater grace at the close of the year? Toward myself? Toward others? God? Life?
And now as the year closes, when all the uncertainty of what would lie ahead has been exchanged for experiences lived, all of the potential dark nights, unwanted moments and increased uncertainty needed to cultivate new pathways within me that encourporate this concept of grace have passed and I’m left with the lessons learned, I’m thankful for my heart’s ache at wanting grace a year ago that led me to focus, pray for and be aware of it all year, and I’m humbled and even amazed by where I found it most.
What I’ve learned about grace is it’s not where you think it is. It’s in the hardest moments. The mess ups. The failings of ourselves and others, the moments you wish you could instantly retract and no matter what life brings, allows, takes you through, it always always wins.
This year, had so many joys! So many. God is good. But, as with all of life, it had heartaches, times where I felt awful about my own actions, times when I was deep in anxiety, treated poorly by others, lost lives of beautiful people and stuck in the disillutionment of life nad myself leaving me speechless and realizing my littleness in the world. And yet, overall grace has won because, as I’ve experienced for 30 years now, with God, it all, IT ALL, works together for good. The heart-aches, the pain, the “why God?!s”… all of it is held in the care of a Great Lover creating our story with and for and through us. That is grace. And right in the midst of that truth lies the very moments where I met grace and grace met me the most this year.
This is what I learned about grace –
Grace is when you choose to love, even when they don’t treat you well because even they need a safe place to land, to be held and have the courage and encouragement to grow beyond their short comings into a better person.
Grace, even more uncomfortably felt, is the moments where I myself mess up. Where I’m mean. Where my edges come out sharp. Where I’m selfish and self-focused and not perfect in any way. Those moments are the worst, and yet… they are the best. They are the only moments where grace isn’t an option. They are the times where I need grace or I’m out, alone, unwanted, too-far-gone, abandoned because I didn’t measure up. I hate to admit it, but I need, and we all need, the failures. We need to do it wrong. We need to be or do exactly what we hope we would never. We need to meet our greatest fear and blemish and discover that we are still alive. We are ok. And we even we have grace.
We do not need to believe the lie that there is no grace in life. That is isolating and excrutiating. Perpetually stuck in the hamster wheel of perfection and ever afraid to mess up and be left or ostracized. It is a living hell.
Instead, I hope we all continually come to know this loving God here with us, a God who will never leave. A God who already knew every shortcoming you’d ever perform and even so chose to love you before hand, during, through, and after. Find that God. Find that Jesus Christ. Find that Christmas always and you are free. Life no more is a score card. It’s not a pass/fail test. It’s an experiment. It’s a constant opportunity to be loved, use your gifts and love deeply and richly because what do you have to lose? All of it will work together. That’s the kind of God we all need. And that is the kind of God and Love that comes to us by grace. We are loved. You’re never too far gone. You’re forgiven. You’re known. You’re free to be exactly who and how you are. Now, later, and past included.
May we all this coming year choose to be brave. May we choose to lean into the discomfort of our mess ups and see where Love finds us on the other side. May we try new things, strive for being better with God’s Spirit helping. And may we love with abandoned because we can’t mess that piece up.
God will use it all. Love will forgive it all. You are covered in grace. Rest in this grace. Take a deep breath to breathe it in. Then go live with that kind of love to all those people and the undesirable edges of life you meet that need loved in the very same way.
Grace & peace my friends.
Musings and Randoms
Happy New Year! Picture is from a recent visit to Philly to check out all of the Christmas exhibits they had. There were so many fun places to see! Next year definitely put that city on your list if you’re nearby looking for fun things to do. Here’s the list I found that helped lead our fun day.
This coming year I know I’ll need some courage… more on that later. But if you’ve been one of the friends who’s encouraged me, or a yogi who has asked for more of my voice, thank you. I’m choosing to leaning to being brave and find my way to offer that out of sheer grace. Grace and gratitude for your desire, and with grace and hope that you find a little more love in your own life through many small strings of pauses. Here’s the rough beginnings: YogaBreathePray
I’m rereading – listening this time – A Million Miles in A Thousand Years by Don Miller. That book is one of my top 5 all time favorites. There are so many pieces of wisdom and it’s such an enjoyable read.