Sunday, January 6, 2013

Oh My, Oh My, Oh Dinosaurs!

And by dinosaurs, I mean grace.

Oh my God, grace.

It seems that the greatest recurring theme in my life - the subject I am constantly watching for and dwelling on with hopes to obtain a deeper understanding of is grace.

A few years ago, if I was honest, I might have confessed that I believed I had a decent grasp on the concept and what it meant for my everyday life. That some fine tuning here and there was certainly in order, but overall - I got the idea.

I was living in the thick of God's sweet, powdered sugar mercy, spending all of my time with people who speak the same winding, sparkly eyed language as me. Expecting the best of each other and offering relieved and timely forgiveness in the event of a misunderstanding.

We spent as much time exploring "God's imagination" (aka: the mountains, the forests, the rivers) as we did snuggled in blankets on cozy sofas partaking in coffee and quality conversation.

It was dreamy, you guys. Dreamy.

That was a time of learning to receive God's affection and love. I thought it was grace I was learning about, but it was more like the foundation to build onto.

Because to understand grace - for me to understand grace (even a little, as I realize more and more that understanding grace is something one forever grows in, as opposed to something one suddenly "gets") I had to do something wrong and be able to receive it. To be wronged and be able to give it. And the hardest: to see those that I love - those that I have deep affection for - wronged and still be able to extend mercy and grace to those doing the wronging in my heart.

The precious, syrupy, frolicking season passed and I entered a season full of something else altogether.

People I should have been able to trust as family started wounding each other. The things they did were damaging and made no sense to me.

All things were intensified by pregnancy nausea and hormones, but I dare say had it not been, I would have felt roughly the same.

I maintained a low-grade despair, interrupted occasionally by bursts of white hot rage that were generally followed by (if I was lucky) at least half an hour of hopeless sobbing.

How could they be so cruel? How dare they? Didn't they know what they were doing?

But that's the thing. They didn't. They don't. Jesus asked our Poppa to forgive them, for they know not what they do.

We don't know what we do.

I don't know what I do.

Oh God.

How we all lie to ourselves. How we all long to have value, to be "good" and worthwhile.

And this is what I realized.

I thought this stupid, raw, desperate season was useless and stagnant. It didn't glitter. It didn't dance. It didn't scoop me up and fly me around on a magic carpet singing, "I can show you the world!".

It sat painfully in my hands like a hot coal begging to be thrown in the faces of those I silently hated. Doing nothing to them. Burning me.

I told it I was determined not to be that person. I blew on my coal, trying to put it out, but my strife only fanned it to flame. I read Scripture to it, trying to talk it into going cold because children of God are called to forgive. To forgive the inexcusable. The unforgivable, even.

I figured, "I'm ok. I forgive them. If it were freezing and they were naked, I would give them my coat. And then I would walk away so I wouldn't have to listen to them talk! Jerks! Kidnappers! Abusers of the elderly! Destroyers of family!"

And the coal burned hot in my hands.

But today I stood in church and thought about how stubborn I have been in my passions in the past. How it felt to be convinced I was right and to have others take issue with me, believing I was wrong.

And all the times I *was* wrong.

And I realized that this has not been a stagnant season. This has been a rich, refining season.

Because now I "get it" just a little bit more.

That while there is a very distinct right vs wrong, there is no one human on the planet who has a handle on right and wrong the way God does.

That is why Scripture tells us there is none righteous, no, not one.

When it all boils down, we are left with simple truth, which is that everyone has a reason for believing how they believe and doing what they do.

And everyone is sometimes wrong.

Thank God for grace, for I am wrong.

Thank God for grace, for they are wrong.

I also realized that, for me, anger can keep me from breaking through to forgiveness.

Anger is a motivating emotion - compelling one with adrenaline towards DOING. It is purposeful. It is when there is nothing constructive to DO that anger can begin to fester and become hurtful.

So it goes, like the stages of grief. Because (I think I am figuring out) that forgiveness requires grieving.

Bargaining, sadness, acceptance.

Ah. And there it is. It is not my job to correct those I perceive as being wrong. Once the damage is done, if they are unwilling to move towards health (mental/spiritual/emotional health), unwilling to make amends, unwilling to have grace for others or themselves, unwilling to entertain the idea of coming on over towards my perception of rightness, it is not even my right to push them towards it.

I can let my anger diminish because there is nothing more constructive to DO.

It is ok for them to be (as I see it) wrong.

And then I am free to grieve. And pray that they would be guided into actual rightness, as God knows it and I do not.

Today, in church, I looked down and discovered that my hot coal went cold, and my burns are nearly healed.

Grace, grace, grace.