Grace

Its not that I’m lacking for things to write about.  However, a lack of time, a dead computer battery and the fact that things are a bit hazy in my mind due to a lack of sleep have all kept me from putting my words on paper.  Or online.  You get the point.

The topic of my bible study last week was on grace and the subject has dominated my thoughts this week.  And to be honest, I struggled with the concept.  Not in a “I’m not worthy” sort of way, but instead “why can’t I seem to wrap my brain around this concept?”

Today the word grace has almost become cliche.  We use it as a casual adjective.  We say ‘grace’ before meals.  And it has become a popular girls name {one of my favorites.}

But what does grace really mean?

I struggled through my studies last week.  I read and re-read the scriptures and the questions seemed impossible to answer.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

Weakness.  That word leaped out at me.  Not only am I supposed to embrace my weaknesses, but I’m to delight in them?  Why?  They bring me closer to Him?  When I am weak, He is strong?  Really?

I’ll be honest.  That just didn’t seem right.  Seems like a bit of a power play on God’s part and all.  And to top it off, I don’t like to think of myself as a weak person.  But when I read the same scripture in The Message it started to become clearer.  “I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations…My grace is enough; it’s all you need.  My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”

Here’s the thing.  When Charlie was born I went into a ‘just do it’ mode.  Not that I resembled anything close to a superhero, as I was really in survival mode.  I went to appointments galore, kept house, played the role of wife and mother, went to meetings and hosted parties.  I was trying to go on “life as normal” when life was anything but.  I tried to make sense out of Charlie’s diagnosis, working through various stages of grief.  Panic ruled.  “This can’t be happening to me!”  Then the “whys” started – why me, why him, why us?  And then fear reared its ugly head.  “This isn’t fair!” I would shout to the Lord.  He didn’t reply if it was, or if it wasn’t fair.  Instead, I was to trust His plan for me.

The funniest thing happened.  I started to notice the Lord working in my life.  Sure, He had always been there, but now I could truly sense His presence and work in me.  I was filled with a sense of peace, love and understanding that I couldn’t explain without sounding foolish.  It didn’t make any sense.  His grace poured over me.  His love and peace enveloped me.  It wasn’t of this world.

I have long struggled with a comment that has been repeated to me many times by various people.  That in not so many words, the birth of my son Charlie – and his having Down syndrome – is my cross in life to bear.  I detest that comment.  In no way do I believe that my child was or is a burden to me.  He is not my “cross.”  Yet, all of this talk about grace made me wonder if deep down I actually believed it.  Had I inadvertently used Charlie as my handicap or weakness?  Did God put Charlie in my life to bring me closer to Him?

I’m not going to dig any deeper here {I already feel as though I’m barely treading spiritual/theological water.}   But I realized that no – Charlie wasn’t my weakness – I had long carried those sins with me before he was born.  It was me.  My son just revealed them.  My limitations were all of the sudden on display for the world to see.  My fear.  My pride.  My attitudes and behaviors.  My control over my life was gone.  All the ugly sins I had embraced and held close had been revealed.  I was totally exposed.  Yet because of His grace, exposing my weaknesses actually gave me strength that I didn’t know existed.

And now with new eyes I see His grace pouring down in all parts of my life – big and small.  It is only by the grace of God that we have adjusted so smoothly to a new baby in the house.  This major life transition should by all means include plenty of chaos, tears, impatience, and sibling jealousy.  It hasn’t.  Despite only getting a maximum of three hours of sleep in a row {on a good night}, I’ve remained emotionally stable {for the most part…} and remarkably calm.  Some may argue that the peace that has surrounded our family during this time is the result of many outside forces – a Nana who has stepped in and helped immensely, my willingness to actually nap when the baby sleeps {why did it take me three kids to finally do this?} and a husband who has helped to keep things running smoothly around the house.  No doubt each has played a role.  But I would also argue that He has played a major role too.  That He has been at work in our family, gracing us with peace.  We did nothing to earn this grace.  Yet, it has renewed my heart yet again for Him.

I’ll admit, I’m still a bit fuzzy on the subject of grace.  But I’ve learned enough to know that trying to control all aspects of life is exhausting – and impossible.  And I’ve been reminded yet again, that it isn’t about me.  That I’m going to have to continually set aside my pride in order to receive His grace.  And it’s raining down all around us.  All the time.  Grace, through Him.  Will you accept it?

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8 thoughts on “Grace

  1. I know exactly what you mean. Our second child does not have a diagnosis/label/etc. However, she offered me a challenge like I had never faced. Our first child was easy. Our second was not–she was cute and charming but caused me to learn more about myself and God than any other situation I had faced.

    Today she is 13 years old and a joy–actually she has always been a joy–just a challange!

    But God has used her to get my attention–I feel sure He had tried many other times to get me to listen but in my stubborness, I would not. So, He sent our daughter. I have learned patience and yes, grace, like I never knew and God has spoken to me through her.

    But the grace was for me–a gift of knowing God and depending more deeply on Him. Praise Him!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your life as you go along.

  2. Well written–what a great way to explain a concept that can be so hard. Before our kiddos were born, we thought that we would have so much to teach them. I think that they’ve done a better job of teach me, than I have of teaching them (in our family). Thanks, Libby!

  3. according to a song sung by many other artists, but the version I’m familiar with…..by Phillips, Craig and Dean
    “your Grace still amazes me, Your love is a mystery….each day I fall on my knees…..your Grace still amazes me.”

    Find a version and listen to it……..makes me cry and sob every single time I hear it…….GOD’s grace is amazing…..no doubt!

  4. Libby (one of my favorite names!)
    Thanks for reading…I couldn’t comment on the last entry for some reason, but I appreciate your words…
    I am now a regular of yours…
    what beautiful, beautiful boys you have!

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