Grace seems too good to be true. Complete acceptance and love and belonging? A sense of worth and beauty in all of our mess? It seems way too easy. The truth is, grace is that easy. But we aren’t. Grace is not in short supply. But people who know how to receive it are…
The temper tantrum began with a simple request to clean his room. My five-year-old inherited his strong will from his parents, and the situation was quickly moving from disorder to chaos.
Objects were pelting the inside of his bedroom door as he went into full meltdown.
As the din ceased, I cautiously opened the door. The look on his face told me he was already punishing himself more than I ever could. So, instead of consequence, I decided to embody my image of grace: I opened up my arms and offered him my love.
He picked up a Lego and hurled it at me.
And it occurred to me: I was wrong about grace.
Grace Makes Our Skin Crawl
I’ve written about Grace as a radical embrace, but it may not be that simple. If Grace were simply an embrace, then receiving it would be as easy as standing still while it wraps us in its love. But receiving Grace is much more complicated. Because most of us are deeply resistant to the presence of Grace in our lives.
Grace can make our skin crawl.
Because we believe the lies we have swallowed about ourselves.
We have been lured into a deception: we focus on the disappointing places within us and we completely miss the beautiful landscapes of our heart. We are fully indoctrinated into a belief in our own filth and worthlessness, and stories of our infinite value sound like a fairytale. We think we are standing on dry land, and all the while we are swimming in our shame.
We swallow the shame-full lies, and we come to the obvious conclusion: Grace is a fiction.
We think we should be groveling for every crumb from the table, and the abundance of Grace simply cannot be trusted. We believe Grace is a hoax: it’s trying to dupe us, it’s angling for something, and we will be forever indebted and controlled. If we buy in and it’s not real, we will feel violated to our core.
Daddy Throws Legos
Last month, my wife was out of the country for ten days. I faced ten days of being a single, working dad. I felt lonely and overwhelmed.
I mentioned my predicament to a group of friends, and before I knew what was happening, I had offers from four different families to help with my kids in ten different ways.
And I wanted to throw up.
Grace was before me. Smiling, offering, present in my dark time. And every impulse in me said to keep my arms folded in front of me. It is so difficult to trust Grace is real, it’s eagerness to be with us is genuine, and it doesn’t come with a big price tag or a heavy debt. It’s so hard to believe in.
I felt like a five-year-old, throwing Legos into the face of Love.
Why I Was Wrong About Grace
The truth is, Grace doesn’t insist on an embrace. It’s too gentle for that. It won’t smother us with a big hug we don’t want and can’t receive. It doesn’t force or coerce. It’s not simply an embrace.
Grace is a radical Presence.
Grace is the Love that remains with us when we can’t imagine remaining with ourselves. Grace is the commitment to being there, regardless of who we are, or how we act, or the way we react to it. Grace is the Daddy waiting outside the bedroom door always, ready to give love when it can be received. Grace is the group of friends saying, “We are here, we won’t leave you when you feel weak.”
Grace is a radical Presence, which means we must embrace it. We must open the blinds of our hearts and let the light in. And sometimes that can feel almost impossible to do. It may be the hardest work of our lives.
Grace on the Horizon
But I believe it is the work of our lives.
It is the single most important thing we will do while we inhabit this big-spinning rock. We must learn to open our arms to Grace. Even when it feels like the Jaws of Life will be required to pry our arms wide.
My heart quickens as I think about a world of people fighting to embrace Grace, fighting to embrace the Light that will annihilate our darkness.
I picture a land of people, trembling cold in the chilly-dark hours before dawn. I picture us standing like an army of the beloved, facing the eastern horizon. I picture us courageous and gutsy, as the sun begins to peak above the edge of the earth, sweaty-browed and fighting like mad to open our rusty-stuck arms. I picture a world full of people, arms flying open in unison as the sun crests the horizon, ready to receive the Grace of another day and to embrace a world saturated by the light of Love.
I picture a world like this.
And I hope.
A Grace Received
So I stand outside the bedroom door and I wait. A slow creak signals the door swinging wide and my son stands there in silhouette. He steps forward and the light hits his face just so, and his chin quivers and his eyes are tender and his arms are open.
And the embrace is mutual.
And this Daddy realizes, “You learn to receive Grace by being it.” You embrace Love only after becoming It.
And my hope turns into belief.
Questions: What makes it hard for you to trust Grace? What untruth have you inherited? Share your experience, or any other thoughts, in the comments section at the bottom of this post.
Dear Reader, Grace is an indispensable ingredient in forming rebellious marriages. Read about it in my new eBook, The Marriage Manifesto: Turning Your World Upside Down. There are two ways to get a copy. New blog subscribers will receive a free PDF copy. If you are not yet a subscriber, you can click here to subscribe, and your subscription confirmation e-mail will include a link to download the eBook. Second, the book is also now available for Kindle and Nook. As always, thank you for reading; it’s a gift. Sincerely, Kelly
Preview: There will be no mid-week post next week. The next post will be on Friday, February 8, and the working title is, “Why Deep Down We All Want to be a Loser.”