Rising Up, Covered in Grace
I did it again.
I yelled in frustration at my whining, won’t-stop-to-take-a-breath three-year old son.
Actually, let me be more specific: I screamed at the top of my lungs— so loud, in fact, that I think I literally pierced my left ear and now I might have gotten just a smidge more deaf than I already was— because my little toddler-man wouldn’t stop shouting about how he wanted to watch a movie before taking a nap.
To tell you the truth, I actually shocked myself with how loud I got.
For those of you who have been reading my stuff for awhile, you might remember that I wrote about another “screaming incident” that happened ten years ago when my oldest daughter was just a toddler. That time (which you can read about here) I yelled “Shut the F*%$ up!” into her bedroom when she refused to nap while her baby sister was napping. This time it was “NOOOOOOOOOO!” followed by an unearthly high-pitched scream (to mimic his own scream of protest) while I was merging onto a busy freeway a half hour past when nap time should have begun.
Not a stellar moment for me, let me assure you. (Apparently, I tend to not do so well when my kids aren’t napping when I really want them to be napping.)
And after hearing myself scream like that, and sensing the ringing vibration in my possibly-burst eardrum, and feeling the adrenaline pumping through my body, aware of my heart beating faster and my breath strained and shallow… I eventually calmed down and found myself in my right mind again.
And then I felt the horrible aftertaste of shame wash over me with a vengeance.
It’s times like that when I can hear the sticky, slimy voice of my “accuser” telling me I’m a hypocrite and who do I think I am to talk and write about loving and serving the broken world around me when I myself am so obviously selfish and sinful and despicable.
And here is the thing: I used to believe those whispers of hateful reproach. I used to tune in and agree with those undertones. I used to feel great shame and really beat myself up over my failure to remain self-controlled and rational and kind in stressful, exhaustion-driven moments like that. I used to feel so guilty over my sinful behavior that I literally would not accept the forgiveness God offered me because I knew I didn’t deserve it.
And I used to feel utterly alone and hopeless in those moments. Which, for me, just made everything even worse.
I still do sometimes.
But… now? At lease most of the time? I recall that “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” I recall that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” I remind myself that I have learned, through many fallen-down moments and tear-filled, getting-back-up moments, through many failures and bad choices and remorseful apologies, that God is bigger than it all.
Times like the other day remind me that I am a sinner in need of grace. I screw up. I get mean. I say and do rude and hurtful things to others. Sometimes on accident and sometimes on purpose. It’s not good.
I praise God every day because His grace covers over it all. I can be truly repentant, I can confess my sin and ask Him to forgive me, and then I can, miraculously, choose to accept the forgiveness He offers.
I can allow Him to cover me in His Grace.
God, in His love, chooses to accept me and love me and shower grace all over me despite myself. God, in His perfection, chooses to reach down and grab my hand and help me out of my pit of shame even though I don’t deserve it. God, in His wisdom and knowledge and omniscience, chooses to teach me through my struggles and challenges, redeem my screwups and poor decisions, and gush grace and forgiveness all over my mishaps, failures, and offenses. And He goes a step further: He even equips me and gives me the strength and wherewithal I need to make better decisions in the future.
Just like every single person who I am trying to help or bless or coach along in their life towards becoming better, stronger, more in tune with God— so it is with me. I, too, am desperate for Him and for His healing and forgiveness and mercy. I, too, need Him every step of the way.
I dare not stand in judgment of others, because I, too, am a flawed, sinful person in need of help from my Maker.
So let’s do this, friends. Let’s do what we’ve been talking about for the past month: let us rise up, in the midst of the darkness swirling around us, and let us bring love and help and hope and encouragement and refreshment to the world around us. Even if we make mistakes along the way. Even if we daily recognize how much we, too, need grace and forgiveness along our journey. Let us root ourselves in Him and in all the truth He has made clear to us, never forgetting that we, too, are in need of our Savior every day of our lives. We, too, need forgiveness and grace from Him every moment.
Do you ever find yourself bogged down by shame, feeling unworthy and, therefore, refusing to accept God’s grace and forgiveness? What helps to remind you of the Truth: that God wants to forgive you and cleanse you and free you despite it all?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.