My experiences and thoughts over the last couple weeks have been very raw and necessary. I spilled it out, and I was right, there was great healing in being myself, unedited (for the most part) and hitting “Publish”. I so appreciate the friends who reached out and gave me a kind, knowing look…”We are in this together.” It is also nice to know that fifteen year olds should be considered insane. So should 42 year old moms pushed to the brink. We will all figure it out as we go, often flying by the seat of our pants, trusting.
In light of these events, I have learned some things of Grace as I observed her showing up, asking me to invite her in, never forcing.
Grace is polite, an inkling. She pops her head through the back door, where there is confusion, anger, unreasonable-ness, mostly fear. She waits her turn, she waits until we glance in her direction. When all is desperate and nonsensical she makes her move. She provides opportunity for us to dare for better, for light, for hope, for freedom, mercy, and release. Do we choose her? Do we accept her invitation or keep digging in our heels to make our point, to stand firm in our position? Most of the time her offers make no sense. “Really?! I need to submit to my child, friend, husband, parent, etc? Really? You want me to make the first move toward understanding? But, I’m right. I have to take a stand here. I have to make my point”. In the heat of the situation, glancing in Grace’s direction, succumbing to her gentle pleading, I realize we don’t have to proceed down this particular path. I can rest in knowing, that letting go, surrendering, may actually be the best.
Grace begins as an imagining. She challenges me to imagine different, alternate, the flip-side. I may not be required to maintain my hard line, whether it’s with my child, or spouse, or on an issue. I see so much of this in our politics, our churches. What if instead of staying rigid, fearing for our security, we let go and trusted and allowed Grace to settle over? What if we stopped needing to have the answers?
Grace is possibility. Is it actually possible I don’t have to know everything or be the one to call people out? Just maybe, what I have assumed is my job, actually is not. Grace provides the opportunity for freedom, to truly live in love and be the hands and feet of Jesus without the need to figure it all out…to be available and present. Grace enables me to imagine that God is actually enormous, vast, working in ways unbeknownst to any of us, revealed in the most minute of ways, that blow our puny, human minds. Could it be possible? Could it be possible that I don’t have to continue to operate in fear, control, anxiety and confusion? Could I be loved for being myself?
Grace is a choice. We can choose our punitive moment or we can choose to let go, loosen our grip, retract our claws and enter into the unknown, beyond our control. We can choose to release our pride and not have to know it all, not have to be the gatekeepers of Truth.
In the context of my parenting, when Grace is not invited in…not only am I a raging lunatic, a conspiracy theorist, a terrified mother, my child is unreasonable too. It takes one of us (me, since I’m supposedly the adult) to stop, breathe, let go, accept new information and believe maybe I don’t know the whole story. It takes one of us to break the cycle of fear that causes me to believe there is no hope, this is forever how it is, it’s never going to be good again. It takes one of us to look at the other and say, “I love you, what do you suggest, clearly this isn’t working.” Will I automatically have an adult conversation with my teenager? Hell no, but at least there’s softness again. At least there’s openness, if even the smallest of degrees. A small crack of light, revealing the shadow of fear that clouds reason and hope.
I will leave you, to extrapolate this to the areas of your own lives, to your marriage, parenting, friendships. To your community, your schools and churches. To your towns, states. To our nation and world. The choice of grace is ours. The choice to allow the notion that maybe we don’t have the whole story…maybe there is an opportunity to give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe we are motivated by fear rather than the revolutionary power of Love. Maybe our own expectations are causing us to lose perspective of mercy and leading us to control.
In my experience, control has never been my friend. Control has only made me have to work harder to stay on top. It’s a miserable existence, where Joy really is just waiting for me to step down, give up the fight, and enter into life-giving Grace.