Challenge 77: Exhibit Grace

I used to be a fanatic about getting my blog posted once a week and would agonize when I struggled with what to say. I switched my paradigm, knowing this is a platform that God has given me and I can only say what He would have me to say. Those days when nothing comes to me to say I now take as God has nothing for me to say so I write nothing. This is why you have not received a post from me in a month, but I have something for you today. Let me know what you think.
soul food dinner

She took her job seriously. The plump church mother, aproned and dabbing sweat beads with a folded white hanky from her shiny black skin interrupted my seating arrangements. “No, this table is for the pastors,” she shouted as I had claimed my seat and directed my children to ones right next to me for the anniversary dinner where my pastor-husband was the guest speaker. Her force struck me silent as I processed her dismissive words. “The children can sit right there.” She pointed to a table next to the pastor’s table. Still pondering where I might sit, being neither a pastor nor a child, the mother said, “You can sit with them somewhere else if this is too far for you to keep an eye on them, but this is the pastor’s table.”

“No, I was just wondering where I might sit. This is the pastor’s table. I can’t sit with my husband?”

I had to breathe deeply, collect my ill words and scatter them to my oblivion to compose my anxious ways. She saw my face switch from confusion to offense and then to compassion, as she began to mutter what she was just trying to do to accommodate all the members and guests. “You can sit there” she said, flinging her hand and turning half away from me in dejected resignation. I gritted my teeth, managed to turn up my lips to plaster a smile and then said, “I just want to make sure I’m complying with how you have arranged things. I just needed to understand the plan so I could follow it.” With that I took my sit next to my husband; she turned around and smiled a bit and we ate in peace, with just a few interruptions from the church mother’s husband telling me how working at the church and giving special attention to her assignments brings her much joy.

As you can probably tell, I had to work internally hard to diffuse my anger. My husband knew this, telling me to calm down, to smile, reminding me that I was crossing to my past side, the one that struck first and stitched wounds later. I knew I couldn’t go there. As a new creature in Christ, my past had passed and I was new (2 Corinthians 5:17). I didn’t want to be a prime candidate for a pastor’s wives show so I knew I had to show grace. I thought how people may not have considered how to accommodate me the way I have considered accommodating me—in my case that the visiting minister and his family may want to sit together—so they don’t need me to dismiss them. What I should have done was simply ask clarifying questions without a twisted up face, and just defer if the order didn’t kill me or have me commit some unrighteous act. These are points for us all to consider as we seek to exhibit grace in those hard places, with those hard people.

Take a Risk Challenge: On the heels of Memorial Day when we honor our fallen soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom, I want you this week to see how you might give up your life of comfort, convenience and normality to exhibit grace to someone else who may have another plan they want you to follow. If their plan won’t kill you or cause you to commit some unrighteous act, then show grace. This is truly a radical act of love.

Challenge 21: Love Through an Identity Crisis

My 5-year-old likes to ask me questions that he already thinks he has the answer to. When I tell him the answer to his baited question, he proceeds to deny my response and begins to repeatedly decry my answer and laud his own. He keeps this up, trying to nag me into agreeing with him. In my head I usually scream: What does this boy want from me, asking me, the wiser one, the answers and insisting on following his anyway? He already had his mind made up. Why did he ask me anyway?

Then I remember that he is young, seeking to grow in wisdom, trying to find his way, navigating his identity crisis. And I think about me and my Jesus moments, arguing with Him, though not verbally, but in my mind and actions, showing Him I have the answers already though I bothered to ask Him, the all wise, all-knowing One.

We all know someone like my 5-year-old. We all know someone like me. You may even be ‘the someone’ you know who asks questions and is not really interested in receiving a correct answer from someone else. You may even, like me, do this with God. But God is not like I am with my 5 year old. He waits patiently for us to come to the understanding of who we are in relation to Him. He is all-knowing. We are not. He is perfect. We are not. We need Him. He doesn’t need us. But superior God constantly shows grace to inferior us. We can surely do the same for others, even those in an identity crisis.

Take a Risk Challenge: Extend grace to those who are in an identity crisis. They may not recognize their naïveté or their insecurity or their emotional or mental fragility, but you do. Instead of arguing, rubbing in their wrongs or otherwise belittling them, seek to understand, and if you can’t, try smiling and simply say ‘ok.’ Doing opposite of everything in your being is truly a radical act of love.

My One Thousand Gifts List

Finding out that hydrogenated oils are one molecule away from plastic
Flynn being off work and able to get the car fixed and pick Joshua up from school
Giving me a maritime analogy
Sharing God’s word to me on temperance with my discipleship group
A woman’s cozy home and hospitality
A woman freely sharing her testimony
Women freely embracing a woman after she gave her testimony
Justus’ joyful giggle about making me laugh
Nate not whining and being really helpful with Justus
Staying home and in my PJs all day