Thursday, March 30, 2017

Ugly Grace

Grace is not pretty. I feel like we hear the word ‘grace’ and we think of it written in pretty script with lots of loops and swoops in the lettering over an image of the beach and get a warm fuzzy feeling of this sweet term. But that’s not the grace I've always known. Grace is can be hard, ugly, often involves a person with a tear soaked, snot nosed, red face, with a stomach full of dying butterflies. That’s the grace I’ve experienced. It’s difficult and usually has to come from intention, without ease.

I’ve heard stories of people being persecuted for their ‘big’ sins within the church. The things that are considered the taboo and make people uncomfortable to even talk about like pre-marital sexual relationships, affairs, divorce, and some even just drinking… you know, normal life stuff that we have all been intertwined with at some point. I’ve had friends and seen people be shunned, and shamed, and treated as if they were nothing.

My divorce has been final for two years and I just experienced this for the first time and it fucking hurts.  I’ve been in a battle of my emotions and my hurt to not speak out and react, but rather breathing deep, staying centered and remembering the amount of grace I’ve accepted from my God. To accept shame from anyone at this point would be taking a step in the wrong direction, it would be the same as a prisoner that has been freed and released to a fresh new start, banging on the prison doors to be shackled again. 

I’ve read a lot on shame, I’ve written about shame and how no one has the ability to shame me more than myself. They’ve certainly tried, however my inner voice is loud and more cruel and honest than anyone else could attempt to be. But, grace. I’ve stepped out of the prison and am well on my way to the good life, arms and legs and heart unshackled and free to live. 

Here’s the thing, and I’m sad I feel like I have to say this, no one, not even you, has the authority or power to judge anyone’s life as sin.  When we attempt to shame someone for things they’ve ‘done’ we’re attempting to step into God’s role of judgment and delivering punishment. Like saying ‘hold on, God, I’ve got this one.’ But you, my co-human, are just not that powerful.  You don’t get to decide what my punishment should be and by attempting to you’re not teaching me anything about God and you’re not acting like the Christ you say you're just being an asshole. 

MY God, is loving, and kind, and his heart is BREAKING for things I’ve endured and decisions I’ve made.  My God, even in my ‘sin’, adores me and sits beside me, and invites me to sit at the table and break bread with Him. He’s seen my red faced, snot nosed, tear soaked face, and has taken the time to know why the butterflies are dying in my stomach.  He’s taken the time to know my heart, yet still calls me His favorite. Most importantly my relationship with the Lord is mine, it is deep, and intimate, and does not need to be explained. 

Hear me friends, I’m by no means saying there isn’t consequence to our choices. There is absolutely a cause and effect to all of the decisions we make, good and bad. Believe me two years out and I’m still feeling the ache and ripple effect of my divorce…but, there isn’t an ounce of regret and I truly don’t believe God is punishing me for it.

So now that I’ve been delivered a man made punishment for my divorce I will feel the hurt and process those emotions, but I will deliver grace in return. I will act in love, not out of spite but because I have felt the depth of what grace actually is and to not extend it would be the hypocritical churchy thing to do, and I’m determined to attempt to be like the Christ I say I follow. I have a natural conviction to believe that people are doing they best they can, but I also believe we all have a lot to learn. I cannot deliver punishment to my co-humans no more than I can accept shame from my co-humans, and I’ll never return to that prison again, my God told me so.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing. I feel like women generally receive the most judgement in a divorce, on top of the lack of grace in raising their children. And the church is the WORST. It's some kind of cultural hold-over from a bygone era and doesn't reflect Jesus' attitude at all. No stones cast, only love. And acceptance. And support.