Thursday, August 14, 2014

at the intersection of need and grace

Ok, so I’m not in that much pain.  Not nearly as much as some of the people I’ve been reading about lately.  Compared to them, this ordeal is nothing.  Less than nothing.

But I’ve been thinking about grace, and how hard it is for me to receive it, and give it.  

Having a broken foot and hobbling around on crutches has made me freshly aware of how needy I am, and somehow, having my neediness out in front of me, for me and all the world to see, has finally freed me to ask for and receive grace humbly.

Why is that?

Is it because there is no possible way to hide this need?  I don’t have the option of covering it up, or wearing a mask?  It’s on my foot, for goodness’ sake - everyone can see why I can’t walk properly, it’s encased in white and hard as rock.  I’m free to not give excuses.  I’m free to not have to feel guilty about this one.

Is it because everyone agrees that this is a need?  An injury is an injury.  People have them every day, live with them for years sometimes, they’re painful, and people with injuries need help. Period.  So it’s “ok” for me to ask for help - everyone understands.

What about when I’m lonely? Why do I feel the need to cover that need up?

Or when I’m caught in the comparison trap and feeling less than, or not enough?  

What about feeling hurt and bruised by words someone said, or didn’t say, or won’t say?  

Why can’t I let those injuries hang out there too, for all the world to see?  Why do I let them fester somewhere deep inside of me, eating away at my ability to ask for and receive grace?

The fact that the physical can be seen while the spiritual is invisible means (in my illogical subconscious mind) if my injury can be seen, that makes it justifiable.  Understandable.  Excusable.  Since there was nothing I could do about this, it’s ok to not be perfect, to not have my act together.  It’s out of my hands.

But sin-struggles, however, or character flaws, or abscesses of the soul - those are different.  Illogically, I feel I should somehow have control over those things, or should be able to deal with on my own, or that no one else struggles with them, so I’ll just keep them to myself.  I tell myself (subconsciously) those internal pains are my responsibility to deal with.  They’re embarrassing signs of weakness and imperfection, and I hate them.  

The trouble is, heart-wounds hurt just as much - sometimes more - as a broken foot.  And when they’re not dealt with, they fester, and they start to suck me dry on the inside.  When I can’t receive grace for those parts of me that are hurting or wounded - like not being a perfect mom, a perfect wife, a perfect home-educator, a perfect friend, a perfect artist, a perfect listener, etc, etc - then I can’t give grace either.

When I can’t give or receive grace, I live in a chronically discontent state, critical, impatient, resentful and unsatisfied.  And because as the homemaker my mood sets the tone for our whole home, my family has to live in a poisonous environment that is the exact opposite of my actual vision for our home: a place of welcome, belonging, peace, purpose, forgiveness, contentment, creativity, beauty, and joy.  

I sabotage my own dreams with my inability to receive grace for my internal wounds.  When I can’t receive grace, I can’t give it either.  So no-one gets the grace or the help or the healing they need, not me, or anyone else around me.  

What a miserable way to live.

I want to change this.

Maybe that’s why God broke my foot.  Maybe this silly rolled ankle and subsequent 8 hot, Saturday hours in a taxi crossing a sprawling city to pursue x-rays, a cast, and crutches at three different locations is all meant to teach me something.

Maybe God wants me to notice something about my attitude now, when I’m forced to humble myself and ask for help - nicely, so as not to alienate the people who will have to continue to help me for the next 28 days.  Maybe He wants me to let go of some of the small things I chronically keep up with (and make others keep up with):

-clean kitchen surfaces
-a clutter-free floor
-random mugs left lying around collected and brought to the sink
-beds made
-dirty clothes off the floor and into the basket

There’s nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves, but when I make them into idols and elevate them to a far higher level of importance than they deserve, and make others in my family serve my own drive for perfection even when it makes them miserable… Then something’s out of whack.  

Grace is missing.  

Maybe God broke my foot to show me that at the intersection of need and grace when I have no choiceI am actually capable of giving and receiving grace, for myself and for others.

And maybe knowing this important truth about myself will enable this "grace thing” to stick long past my 30 obligatory days of crutches and dependence.  

1 comment:

  1. Oh, my sweet friend... Thank you for these words today!