Untold Story of Grace
This week, our God-sized dreamers thought about a time we took some positive action in order to move forward. So often, things that helped us once upon a time can help us now… but for some reason we don’t always readily make that connection.
When I read our “assignment”, my immediate, lightning bolt thought was grace. You see, two and a half years ago, I was in a very deep, dark place that was quite absent of grace. This place is somewhere I prefer not to revisit in my mind; in fact, I’m almost positive that I really haven’t ever written about that time… not the whole story anyway. This is the part about committing our story to print that really scares me- I know I will have to be painfully honest in order to really do it justice. So, I’m wading into the chest deep water with this post- not quite ready to make the full, diving board leap quite yet.
Now, when I talk about the time when my life was devoid of grace, I don’t mean that I didn’t experience grace from God- quite the contrary. One of my favorite songs says it this way-
“There’ve been days when I’ve walked away…too much to carry, nothing left to say… forgive me Lord when I’m weak and lost… you traded Heaven for a wooden cross. And all these years you’ve carried me…. you’ve been my eyes when I could not see… and beauty grows in the driving rain… your oil of gladness in the times of pain…it’s grace… your grace… I’m nothing without you… grace… your grace… shines on me.” (Michael W. Smith)
The grace I’m referring to is grace for others and for myself. Hannah Grace died in December, and I returned to teaching kindergarten in January. I kept myself very busy that semester (including starting on-line courses) and wondered why I felt certifiably insane. I honestly don’t really even remember a lot about that time. Looking back, it’s painfully obvious that I coped by trying to out-run it all… which worked until school ended for the summer, and Caleb and I were on our own all day every day.
I slid into the depths of depression, but I didn’t even realize it at first. I was told by a counselor that I was a “high functioning” depressed person- my idea of being depressed meant you laid in the dark all day and couldn’t do anything. I got up every day… took care of Caleb…went to church… but I was also apathetic about life…marriage…the future… while struggling with insomnia, headaches, and mood swings. I also struggled with the idea of medication- I honestly felt like I didn’t and shouldn’t need it.
In July, I went for six weeks of counseling with precious Holley Gerth. Through her gentle prodding and listening, I was able to see that somewhere along the way I had stopped giving myself and others that grace we all so desperately need. I was hanging on to things that had happened when Hannah was sick… people who had brought me disappointment and hurt. I was also hanging on to things that haunted me- guilt over not realizing she was sick…leaving the hospital to return home those few times…agonizing over the decision to remove the ventilator from her tired, struggling body. I honestly didn’t understand why I couldn’t quite hold it all together anymore (I remember getting so angry with myself when I couldn’t find things). I know now that it should’ve been enough that I was doing anything, but I continued to expect perfection. Craziness in its purest form.
Holley managed to help me find just what I needed, and it has stayed with me ever since. “Give yourself grace.”
God’s grace is ever abundant and right there for us to take hold of…but so often we are not willing to let it truly wash over us. We are beating ourselves up over things both large and small…and full of anger and bitterness towards those who have hurt us (either real or imagined wounds). God used Holley to whisper that truth into my spirit…give yourself grace. Not give yourself permission to be lazy… spiteful… stuck… but grace.
So, I learned to let go… not expecting to be super wife/mom/church member/teacher/daughter/friend 100% of the time… and not expecting that of others either. I also gave myself grace by relenting on the medication issue… which helped me tremendously for a season and which I no longer take.
So, now I’m revisiting this terribly painful time to remind me that what helped before can help now. Now that I’m trying to figure out how I could really write a book… what else I can do to move this adoption process forward… how to grow a grief ministry… give myself grace.
My prayer is that you will reflect on something that has helped you move forward in the past and how that might apply to your present and future.
When life overwhelms you… give yourself grace.