Grace. Such a beautiful word, and such a beautiful concept. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound. Yeah, I remember growing up singing those words, hearing those words, even thinking that I understood those words. Even when I lost my mom, I remember attributing my peace and calm to God’s grace. That was the canned response that I had heard so oft repeated by those hurt and grieving in church. That was the proper lingo. Rest in God’s grace. Oh my goodness how I felt like a failure when the numbness (aka peace and calm) wore off and I actually felt the raw pain of losing my mom suddenly at the age of 20. I felt a lot of things, but God’s grace wasn’t on the list right away. There is a distinct difference between feeling God’s love, and having God’s grace. Grace is what saved me and allowed me to come crawling back to my savior even after I had run, kicking and screaming in every direction, to get as far away from Him as possible. Grace is what told me that He would still be right where I left Him, with arms open wide, waiting to receive me. Despite my fall, despite my decisions, He was still there.
I often see young people, that remind me of myself at their age. While I would NEVER in a million years wish anything like what I have experienced upon them; I do often wonder how deep their understanding of grace goes. Have they ever truly experienced grace, as I hadn’t at their age? Are they singing about something that they only think they understand? We never really know the depth of another’s story, but I often watch people during praise and worship. I find myself feeling the words, and wondering if those around me feel them too. Like when we sing Amazing Grace, I am touched by those words because I was set free. When we sing about healing, all I can do is call out to the great physician on behalf of my daughter. There are so many twists and turns in my life that I think, if only others knew my whole story…Other times, I’m grateful that they don’t.
Sometimes, I think about my testimony and how complicated it is from the very beginning. I wonder if God ordained my life to work this intricately, or if I just really complicated things this much; and He just had to figure out a way to use my foibles for His glory. My life now is so beautiful, that I find it hard to believe that God could have had anything else planned for me. Perhaps He had a little more direct route to get here though. A few less potholes and pitfalls might have been nice. The truth is, the times when my life was the absolute darkest, were the times when I was fighting that voice of the Holy Spirit tugging on my heart; the voice that told me He had something far better for me, if only I would listen and follow. My own selfish desires, and guilt made me bury that voice deeper and deeper under my own plans for my life. The here and now took precedence over what would be better for me down the road. I hated even looking into the future because I hated looking at my life and the choices I was making. I didn’t like thinking about consequences or the repercussions of my decisions. I was hurting myself and the people who cared most about me. To say that I was on a downward spiral was an understatement.
I was so isolated in my pain, that I wouldn’t even hug people or let people hug me. I would cover my face and look away to avoid eye contact that was sure to make me cry. I just wanted to disconnect from my feelings; feelings that made me look at the person I once was. I’ll never forget the first step that brought me back. My first saving grace. I met a girl who would change my life forever. We were 21, a bunch of friends heading to a birthday party for a guy I had never met. I was still new to the area, so I had never met most of these people. Our mutual friend introduced us, and off we went. In the car, she was playing a song that she was going to sing in church on Sunday…I had sang that same song for my youth group years before. We were both stunned that anyone else even knew the song. It was a song by the christian artists, Point of Grace. How fitting. We bonded instantly. I told her about my mom…the abbreviated version, and we were fast friends. We had to stop by her mom’s house to pick up the birthday present…this would be the second step of grace. We all went in to see her mom, because this was a home where everyone was welcome and comfortable. To this day, I can’t tell you what happened when we walked into that house…I only remember that she briefly told her mom who I was, and that my mom had been killed in a car accident a year ago. Before I could deploy my usual defense mechanisms, her mom had me in the tightest hug of my life. I hadn’t been hugged in a year. We just stood there, balling our eyes out in a group hug that lasted forever. She hugged me until I couldn’t cry anymore. No one cared if we arrived to the party on time (I’d later realize that she never arrived anywhere on time), they only cared about loving me. I had just met these people hours prior. Over the next few years, they would change my life in immeasurable ways. God used them to start drawing me back to Him. To me, that is grace. That is what grace feels like.
And that is only one example…when I sit and think back over my life, I stand in awe of all the times I was shown amazing grace. Yes, I have known amazing pain, but in each of those circumstances, there have always been love and grace also.
There will be pain and sorrow in this life. There will be crazy and unfair. The important thing, is to not miss the beauty of the amazing grace that is all around us. Sometimes, you have to look for it. Sometimes, it isn’t what you were hoping it would be; or wanting it to be.
Sometimes, you just have to remember that His grace is sufficient.