The Sway of Grace
There was no inspiration in the sky above me, its color was thick and like taupe mixed with gray.
The color of old water left in the kitchen sink, murky from faded suds and dirty plates.
No music seemed to suit me. The podcast I was moved to hear again had strangely gone away.
I walked on with the bounce of a trendy and sort of tired old song.
Next one and the next the same.
They were not working, the songs that usually drive me, keep me distracted from the pain of my hips, my feet.
Songs about grace and Jesus too trendy for me today, too much like radio pop.
Twelve or thirteen minutes I told myself, just a brief bit, you can endure it.
So, I picked up my pace and I listened to my feet hitting the ground and I know it’s not possible but I could describe the sound of my own breath coming up from my core.
And I felt it, the way my body changed as my breathing weaved up and past my ribs and into my particularly patterned exhale.
Control, keep control. Focus on the release.
I kept on and got to the place with the dangerous curve and the steep right bending hill.
The geese had congregated on the water and were conversating loudly.
I slowed and felt the wind sweep across my face making me realize the warmth I’d created on my chest, caused by my own private version of running my race.
For about a minute, maybe seconds more, there was this bliss caused by God’s grace.
In a less than spectacular sky I couldn’t find Him and so, grace found me.
And I ran up the hill, all the way this time.
Although I’d decided I might not be able, I kept running.
Last week, I sort of analyzed my life using the big chunk of moments, days and years that were either sorted and stacked as either joy or fear, as either mistake or reconciliation.
My husband and I recalled the dog adopted and where he peed, pooped, what he destroyed, and how difficult he was in the beginning.
I asked him to compare the joy of the Labrador being with us to the initial hassle and adjustment.
He agreed he was worth it.
Worth it to sit in your spot at end of the day to have a big dog plop down and prop his big face across your feet.
Worth it to be greeted at the door with his goofy eyes and happy tail.
If you look closely at your life, all the happenings that you know were true trauma, the interruptions that you remember and think that was it, that’s what totally blew my chances of being complete, you might be justified in never believing you should believe.
You might not take chances with new things.
Perhaps, the trauma that began it all has never been fully grieved, a grievous grey sky that you haven’t faced fully, haven’t accepted for what it is and so you’ve not felt it, not allowed the grace to be greater than the fear.
In college, my first year, I was raped.
I blamed myself. I hid in shame.
The big and grotesque figure of an athlete loomed behind me the next day in Chemistry lab, elevated just over my shoulder, he was enormous and so powerful in his seat.
I blamed myself because my sweater was way too tight and glaringly hot pink. I know better now; but, only recently realized this thing that made me live so very long in fear and defeat.
It was unresolved grief for the artist in me that died there that night, accepted the disbelief of me.
But, even better than the realization that this trauma was not invited by me is the realization that this incident makes up really only an hour or two of me…of my whole 58 years!
I don’t minimize the damage, I’m just choosing to line it up beside the other things:
I was the middle child, shy girl who went to college on an art scholarship.
I drove myself through Atlanta all the way to the beautiful mountains of Rome.
I tried something new and I made a great friend who was beautiful and statuesque and intelligent who still remembers me.
I learned to love running there, running uphill every day.
We dined at a splendid restaurant where my friend worked on Friday nights, my choice always, Chicken cor don bleu.
I won an award for a painting and my parents came up to see my blue ribbon.
I began, just a little, to see Jesus differently and it challenged me.
I was brave there even though interrupted in this horrible way.
I was harmed in many ways by that night at a party; yet, that’s only a tiny bit of my experience, of my life.
The greater experience is that I was held even then and I am still held by the grace of my Father’s hand.
I was His child then. Didn’t believe it but that didn’t matter.
So, I choose looking back only to be certain of my worth from His perspective and of the importance in believing there is always so much better I have seen and been given, even when I line it up to the most unjustified of my griefs.
I pray if you’ve known trauma you’ll see the freedom of deciding daily that you are more at peace when your recall is one of the evidence of grace, not a harsh gauge of resentment over someone who harmed you and thus, kept you from all that might have been.
There’s truth in that sentiment. It just won’t take us anywhere, certainly no new places.
You’re so much more than the stain of your pain.
When the cool evening breeze brushed my face yesterday it was God saying to me, I saw you keep going.
I saw you turn your attention to me.
Continue and believe.
Don’t let the pain of your past cut short your beautiful race.
Luke recorded the healing of a woman bent by her pain for close to twenty years.
For me, my frame of reference for all my defeats or my failures has always been the harm done towards me by others, the hurtful choices made for me and the ones I made.
Disabled for far too long by my pain until I decided to welcome a change.
Like the woman Jesus was criticized for healing on the Sabbath, I am free.
“And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.”
Luke 13:11-13 ESV
Leave grief behind, notice the unrelenting grace of your God.
This perspective of forward not former thinking is the direction God is guiding me towards memoir. If you know someone who has lived hampered by harm, share my words. I pray God increases each reader’s awareness and embrace of His grace as He is with me, moment by moment, daily.