God soaks us in it, then we are to soak everyone else. Easy peasy. That is, until you have to actually do it.
On any given day I can let Grace flow. And the very next, dam it up completely.
I used to have what I called my “insider trading” conversations going on in my head full-time. Now they’re just part-time, but they still sound the same.
- “Well, if she would…then I will…”
- “Hey, if he hadn’t…then I won’t…”
- “I think she did that on purpose, so I will not…”
- “She didn’t even send me a birthday card, so I won’t…her.”
I drew these imaginary lines, then made up gunk to stick between them that I rolled between my fingers like play dough to form arrows and barbs and sticks and stones that I used to build my dam.
Mental flossing of who deserves grace and who doesn’t, trading grace for favors, bargaining for feel-goods and attention and validation.
My insider trading used Grace as a retaliation weapon. ‘You’ll get it when I damn well decide you deserve it.’
Sometimes people do things on purpose to hurt. I have scars that prove that mean girls are not a figment of our imagination. So maybe withholding Grace made me feel protected. Maybe it was just plain old fear and insecurity.
Sadly, when I withheld Grace, I withheld Me. I ignored, discounted, and in my worst moments of insider trading, I spread nastiness all around. In my twisted version of Grace, I was doing you a solid when I withdrew to save you from my venomous attack that you so deserved based on the scenario I had concocted in my head.
Say, what? Oh yes. Been there. Done that. Fiction drove my reality. And, at times, I was bitterly lonely because of it. It was this ill-conceived insider trading that strained, and even destroyed, relationships.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]We all lose when grace doesn’t flow. [/pullquote]God’s Grace is so different. God’s Grace has no strings, no trade offs; freely given, never revoked. No matter what I shoulda, woulda, coulda, God’s Grace continues to pour all over me.
If I get that concept of Grace, really get it, then everyone would get it. From me. Freely. No strings attached. God’s Grace is mine to turn around and give to everyone. Anyone.
I know many of you understand. You have lived it. You live it. You may, even as you read this, be building new dams, creating gunk between the lines you created, rolling that play dough between the tips of your fingers. Blocking yourself off from the might-be’s, from the could-be’s.
I’ll be blunt. When we do this, we prostitute our grace, demanding payment before giving the goods. Crude analogy? Perhaps. But Grace is the best thing we have ever been given. Ever. And to not absorb its enormity and share it freely with others is a tragic loss.
Grace is too easy. That’s what makes it so hard.
God’s love is too big for us to grasp. And that makes this free gift of Grace – this undeserved blanket forgiveness – that much harder to get our head around. Yet it is real. And it is available. And we are each only a choice away from taking hold of it.
I pray that I choose to be a Grace-giver more often than not. But I will probably always struggle with the sheer wonder of God giving me such an undeserved pass, overlooking my play dough manipulations, my insider trading pathways that lead to such discord.
The truth is that it is just too simple for me. I need more rules and regulations, more project management to do. Order and certainty. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Yet there is little of that when it comes to this gift of Grace.
Instead, I am learning to see Grace as my own personal roller coaster ride. Thrilling and risky and death-defying and scream-inducing and laughter-provoking. And I want to do it again and again.
I love the title of Philip Yancy’s book about Grace – What’s So Amazing About Grace? I am intrigued by the question. Maybe in years to come I’ll have a better answer but for now I’ll rest in this one…
Grace is amazing because it is so dang amazing.
So there you have it. I’ll leave you with these words from my favorite philosopher, Bono…
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark no longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things
Grace finds beauty in everything
Grace finds goodness in everything