Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In Search of Grace

Not trying to steal Heather's illustrative niche - just couldn't
find an image that matched the one in my head! Voila. Now
go check out her masterpieces of art and writing, because well,
this leaves a lot to be desired.

Changes can bring about a lot of joy, but that can often be mixed with a lot of turmoil. When stress is high, it feels like all the little things that normally would be minor annoyances start to take on a magnitude rivaling the peak of Mount Everest. I long so deeply to be the woman, wife, and mother who exudes a quiet and peaceful countenance, who "obtains, maintains and establishes a steady cool." {That last phrase was a shout out to my old Dean of Students...}

I am not. No matter how hard I try, it seems like the slightest ripple unleashes a chain reaction of seismic proportions. Toddlers are messy. Toddlers are noisy. Toddlers have accidents. All of this is perfectly normal, except in my head where I'm pretty sure mine are the only ones who need a hearing aid before the age of four and are secretly plotting not to turn my hair grey lest I have any semblance of glory, but rather lead me to exhibit female baldness a la Sinead O'Connor (or Ross's girlfriend Bonnie on Friends).

Why? Why is that? Why can I not just roll with the punches and revel in the independence-gaining chaos that is life with toddlers? What keeps me from extending grace when they do not respect my author-i-tay or mistakenly believe I am wearing a cloak of invisibility that also makes my voice inaudible?

Jesus and numerous other people extend me grace every second of every day. I am far from perfect and yet I am forgiven and given so many chances to try again and do better. What makes my first reaction so far from grace? What makes me so intent on "teaching lessons" that I cannot embrace the joy in the blessed mess? How do I so quickly forget that love has to come first, before the correction, before the losing of one's final brain cell?

I know part of the secret is balance and order. When the basics are unbalanced (sleep, nutrition, prayer life, sleep, house), the train derails more quickly. I know. I know part of the secret is not comparing myself to other moms who can glide through the day with twice the kids and half the chaos, throwing in a handful of outings to boot. While I know all these things, the end result still doesn't land in the realm of peacefulness.

At the end of the day, I think the real secret is that I need to open myself up to receiving grace before it will flow out from me. I think that is the "secret that's not a secret" of the seemingly supermom who can navigate a half dozen toddlers with a single bound. She likely is allowing herself the time to soak up grace so she can bestow it on others. That's the circus feat I need to conquer.

Here is the real question. How do you open yourself to that when it seems like you are spiraling down without a net? When your mind, body, and spirit are headed for automatic shutdown, where is the restart button to begin again, to quiet and calm your soul before Jesus to let Him fill you with His grace? When there is so much to be done and the quiet minutes are but a precious few, how long is long enough to focus on the One who is that stream of life you so desperately seek? When everything on the inside screams out holy hot mess of tangled yarn, how do you fix your gaze on the One by whom you were woven and spun? 

No really, how? The only thing it seems I can do is start small, and start with something. Anything. A Hail Mary. A chapter of a devotional. A few verses of Scripture. Anything is something that opens the door. There may not be a secret code or "right way" after all, other than to just do it. Perhaps Nike was on to something bigger than they knew. The secret to receiving grace may simply be to stay in search of it and open the door to receiving the outpouring God has in store without preconceived notions of how it will appear. Here's to opening the doors and windows and throwing away the umbrella in the hopes of a torrential downpour like the one outside right now. Lord knows I can use it, and so can all those who encounter me daily.

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