Love Does

An Unexpected Grace

“When we face a crisis, we can become angry or fearful for our own well-being, rather than looking to see what God intends to do through our circumstances.  If we remain self-centered we will miss so much of what God could do through our experiences, both for us and for those around us.”    – Experiencing God Day-by-Day  [pg 177]

Dear 2020, You broke me.  As an Enneagram six, I have a well developed propensity to project worst case scenarios for every day situations.  I have a deep need for safety and security.  Sixes are great people to know, because when disaster does happen we typically know what to do – we’ve thought this through a bazillion times before and there’s definitely a plan.   {They made a whole TV series about people like me}

Deep down, I just want to be a seven.  Sevens have more fun.

Obviously I want to have fun… in the safest way possible.

But in all my SIX glory, nothing in my brain could have predicted what we now live as the year 2020.  I would have laughed in your face if you told me this year would hold a pandemic, a tornado, a wildfire and murder hornets all before May.

I don’t mean to throw anyone under the bus, but, I can’t help but think it all started back when some guy named Popeye messed with God’s chicken sandwich.  🙄

I digress.

The year started out swell.  I saw great potential in all the possibilities before me.  I even dipped my baby toe into the pool of imagining writing something bigger than I could handle.  And in a matter of days the first tidal wave of disappointment came crashing in, realigning my priorities and focus.  I shifted quickly and before I could even catch my breath the world came to a screeching stop.  Just like when a car slams on brakes, all my carefully laid plans went flying in the air.

In the first month of the new reality if anyone asked me how I was, my answer was always – I’m dying. In the second month I began to be convicted of those words and chose to stop declaring the inevitable.  I started to recognize the need to release expectations of what I thought life – or even a day – should look like.

There was a lot of grappling.  A lot of questioning.  A lot of asking God, did you see this coming? I couldn’t reconcile how if he knew what was coming, why didn’t he prepare me –  or better yet, rescue me?  {obviously I mean us}

I recognize that in all of these situations the underlying feeling is a level of vulnerability that I do not like.  Vulnerability that is forced – not chosen.  I am comfortable with the vulnerability of the heart that I choose to enter. I do not like the feeling of being exposed and vulnerable when I have no choice in the matter.  A complete lack of control to change the outcome.  Cash me out.

As I frustratingly reflected on those days I bumped up against a familiar belief system – I did everything right, why did everything go so wrong?  If I do things right, have things in order, have my heart in the right place and engage with courage and love… then the result should be good.

AAAAHHH…  if 1+1 doesn’t equal 2… then what is the point of even living?  I can’t predict, control or even come through if the formula doesn’t work.  And as I follow that belief I realize there are so many layers being uncovered…

I didn’t do drugs.  I didn’t abuse or neglect children. I’ve never committed a crime.  –  Yet I live with the reality of these things every day.

If all my good efforts can’t keep me safe, if I can’t control all the other people I love to make good choices… then I cannot engage in a reality that doesn’t give me a fair shot.  It feels like everything is risky beyond what I can mitigate.

All I can do is surrender. 

I don’t have the energy to reconcile it. I must simply choose to believe that God is near.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me…

Slowly I begin to recognize a disconnect around grace and how I view it.  If everything was in order like it should be, then I wouldn’t need it.  And if all my people would manage themselves in an orderly manner and meet my expectations, I wouldn’t have to extend it.

I painfully see that my willingness to extend grace is sabotaged by my own ability to receive it… and this breaks my heart. I realize I don’t want grace, I want mercy… I want relief from the circumstances that force me to receive grace – I want control. It is a vicious cycle.

So here I am in 2020 learning like a baby taking first steps, to accept grace, to extend grace and to let go of this belief that there is some measure of being worthy of grace.

That’s the bottom line of grace, it’s unmerited.

As I slowly emerged from my pit of despair and self-pity I see the glimpse of his goodness.

There’s a peace that began passing my understanding.  A steadiness in the chaos and a new rhythm in our home.  We began to rest like we never have before.  Sure, there was some bribery in the early days as I tried to train the girls to sleep past 6:30.  After all, what was the point of even getting up??? We had NOWHERE to go.

Seriously though, a calm settled in that was not familiar, yet I have always longed for it.  Our emotional margin began increasing and our meltdowns decreasing.  We had longer stretches of stability that became comfortable and cozy.  I began to see a shift from us simply surviving to unexpectedly thriving.

Once I paused to reflect I slowly realized, what had turned my world upside down brought our family right-side up.  As our world became smaller, these girls felt safer and the fruit of it all tastes a bit like healing.

Isn’t grace amazing?

I couldn’t believe it.  I wouldn’t have chosen it.  I honestly thought we might not survive it.  But here I found myself not wanting to change it.  I’m not ready to go back to the old pace and race –  let me stay here a bit longer.  Let’s see how much God can do with two fish and a few loaves.

I’ve spent weeks picking up the pieces of a year that seemed shattered, only to find they paint a different picture.  Where I currently sit, it looks like quiet waters and green pastures, we may have passed a valley that feels like death but there’s restoration on the horizon.  It’s a promise I’ve held closely.

My sister recently asked me, what does that say to you about God?  I paused to consider what I’m experiencing before answering, I’m overwhelmed by his kindness to me, his care for my family, his provision in this season and how he has turned something so scary into something so sweet and unexpected.  As the words came out, I felt my eyes filling with tears remembering the words I wrote over and over and over last year –

“Yes, I believe you are good, but this does not feel kind.”

It takes my breath away.  Truly.

A wilderness journey of me owning at the depths of my being that I question his kindness was nothing less than his pursuit to reveal his heart – that I may fully know.

We are reclaiming this year.  There’s been a turning point for me.  I do not discount the losses, the pain or the impact it has had.  This season feels like a balance of tension between major disappointments and savoring God’s goodness – holding both at the same time.  But I have to cling to the hope that we’re entering new territory.

Sweet friend, do not lose heart.  ❤

Much love, from a broken girl.  {formerly known as a six}

 

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