For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Grief--The Unfamiliar Territory

The fact is I just want to talk about my mom.

I was shocked when I was sad earlier this week. I haven't been sad like that in several weeks. I couldn't figure out why being separated was knocking me for a loop now. It wasn't until I was talking to someone about the weekend and how hard camping was that I realized why I was so sad.

My mom is dying.

We can use every euphemism known to man, and it doesn't change the fact that one day in the not too distant future I will wake up and my mom will not be here. I won't be able to call. There will be no need to buy a Mother's Day card, and a whole slew of "big hole where Mom was" things. I've done this before. I know I will be okay. There is another side, and we'll get there.

However, between here and there lies a land I've never been through. Oh, yeah, I lost my dad. I've been through the "terminal" span of time, but it wasn't like this.

With my dad, we knew he was dying. He and I talked openly about it. We laughed, made morbid jokes, got choked up, held hands and said nothing. We knew what was coming, and we chose to meet it head on. It was just another step into another adventure, and while it was hard, we were together in it as far as we could go. When he was gone, all the business was taken care of and all that was left on the table was the understanding I'd meet him some day there, but everything here was settled. It was painful but peaceful.

I told my friend John I knew how to do this. I knew my role, but I'm finding this is all new territory, and I'm having to figure out one step at a time. Where my dad saw death as simply part of the process of life, my mom sees it as the enemy...something to fight with anything and everything she can. Where my dad tried to squeeze all the life out of his time he could, my mom has imploded. Where he laughed often, my mom has turned angry and yells. Where my dad and I talked, my mom and I are silent.

And I am grieving.

I am grieving the time being lost, the memories not being made, the laughter that is silent. I am grieving my inability to do anything...make jokes, laugh at memories, hold her hand in silence.

With Dad, I was the warrior saying he would live...until the last week when I knew we had reached the end, which we embraced with grace. With Mom, I am trying to understand how the warrior stands down and becomes the observer who sets aside her own emotions in order to respect another's. I know how to be the leader, to be the strength. This is taking all the strength I have.

I'm not used to being seen as the enemy.

However, I understand brain tumors. I understand fear. I understand desperation. I understand that my role had little to do with me and everything to do with her, and right now, she doesn't want me as a leader or as her strength. She doesn't want someone to talk through the time left or walk with her into the next adventure.

...And we both grieve...she in her anger and defiance...I in my sadness and determination to squeeze every drop out of life.

Familiar territory and yet, completely different than anything I've experienced. And I keep praying for wisdom to know how to traverse it...for me...for my children...for my mom.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An Honest Letter from This Side of the "Fail" Line--Part 6

Now What?

If you are still with me, a lot of you are quite possibly offended or hurt (probably not if you are just reading this, but the folks to whom it was addressed were). Okay. I’m not going to tell you not to be. What I will tell you is this, so are we. Offended, not so much because we understand people don’t get it or just don’t know how to handle the situation. Hurt…deeply.

My suggestion is to do what we’ve been doing for months and years: take your offense and anger to God. Ask Him if your reaction is uncalled for or if you simply don’t like the truth, and then ask Him what, if anything, you need to do about it.

Rob and I talked before I started this, and we knew some folks would get mad, some would respond defensively, and some would simply delete us from their lives. I asked him was he okay with those reactions and consequences. We agreed if people are only going to inflict pain on us or the children, we don’t care if they talk to us anyway, and there are already a lot of people that we have been very strict about guarding our hearts from because of the pain they’ve inflicted in the past. While we are not trying to alienate people, we would rather have a big distance than to dread talking to people because we know the pain that will come. In both cases, the relationship is torn. At least this way, both sides would know why. As it is, there are phone numbers we refuse to answer and emails we either don’t read or don’t respond to. If you are one of those, now you know why, and you have the opportunity to address it.

Believe it or not, despite what I’ve written, we love you. If we didn’t, we’d simply write you off and not speak to you. We hope this letter communicates our hearts, answers some questions, stops some gossiping, and offers some perspective from this side of the can’t-believe-you’re-such-a-failure line. If it sounds like attacks, it really isn’t meant to be. I simply have no patience for diplomatic wording that has no clear meaning or impact. We both wanted this to be as clear as possible so we were not misunderstood and our words did not get twisted and used against us in some warped way. Hopefully I did that with as much diplomacy as possible. If not, well, I guess pray for me there, too.

Thank you for taking time to read and listen.

God bless you.
Rob and Jerri

If this was not written to you but you see yourself in these posts as someone who inflicted pain, even unintentionally, please prayerfully consider how God desires for you to repent to the one(s) you hurt. There is so much healing in hearing someone who has hurt you acknowledge the injury and ask forgivness. If you are one who has been hurt, I'm so sorry. My heart goes out to you. If you are brave, tell the people who have hurt you. I have received many heartfelt apologies as a result of this letter. If you cannot do that, you still have to face to the pain to find the healing. May God graciously show you how you need to do that. 
God bless you, and may His love pour forth in healing in all ways...
Most sincerely...Jerri

An Honest Letter from This Side of the "Fail" Line--Part 5

Being Loved On

So, now that I’ve given all the ways that people have hurt us and isolated us, let me tell you how people have embraced us. I don’t want this to simply be a vent. It is meant to educate and inform.

Some helpful things people have done:

1. Just love us with no ulterior motives. Do you have any clue how nice it is to have a play date without someone using it as an excuse to get us trapped so they can ask questions?

2. One couple chose not to tell me all the things Rob needs to do or be. Instead, this couple took responsibility and talked to Rob themselves.

3. Game night where it was really about “being there” and caring with no questions—unless you want to talk—or lectures (so sick of lectures on what needs to be done and how from people who don’t even know what’s wrong and no real idea how to fix it).

4. “A book that helped me.”—Not the, “You need to read this,” thing, but simply, “I have this book. It helped me (and how). If you want to read it, you’re welcome to it.” Non-threatening, non-judgmental, just offering some hope and help.

5. Grace. I have a friend who fully believes in marriage and fully believes all efforts should be made to save it, but when I said, “I don’t know if I can stay if things don’t change,” instead of telling me how I was failing to have faith or just needed to make up my mind and do it, he said, “Then you know there will be consequences. You know it’ll impact the kids. You know you are going to have to pray through that and seek God to walk through it with healing for all of you. You know you are going to have to have the wisdom to let God lead you through to the other side to where the healing is.” Yes. Healing. That is the pursuit.

You know what he didn’t do? He didn’t tell me how screwed up my kids would be. He didn’t lay some heavy burden on me about how it’s my responsibility to make sure everyone came through okay. He didn’t tell me how I would end up losing my ministry and my life purpose if I got a divorce or didn’t perform just right and get everyone to harbor safe and sound. In fact, he didn’t try to scare me into performing at all. He didn’t dump fear on me in any way.

What he said was simple: sometimes humans fail, and he wanted to know if I trust God to cover us all even if we fail. Did I believe in grace to cover me and my family when I simply wasn’t good enough to fulfill the law? Yes, I do. Sadly, it seems a large number in the church don’t.

6. Believe God can heal…even when it doesn’t look like the box we think it should, or in the time frame we want it to be in. I won’t try to explain it. I’ll just say I trust God to heal according to His perfect love.

7. Understand that sometimes a season of separation is better than a lifetime of divorce.

8. Be hopeful without being pushy. We don’t need anyone telling us what God is doing. We see it every day. We know better than y’all.

Continued in Part 6--What Now?

An Honest Letter from This Side of the "Fail" Line--Part 4


Someone said this week, “At some point y’all are going to have to choose if you are going to work on this marriage.” I thought that was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. If we weren’t choosing to give God a chance to heal us so we could salvage this marriage, I would have filed for divorce June 28th, the day after Rob decided to move out. The fact that no papers have been signed and we are still talking speaks volumes. It’s just not saying what the law-pushers want to hear.

And that leads me to one more thing. I’ve been accused of being a quitter, of being faithless, of not warring for my marriage. I have stood for 19 years and prayed for healing for Rob and us the whole time. None of you have a clue what has gone on in our home, and you have no idea what I’ve stood through or how I’ve battled. If standing on my own for 17 years while coming under direct fire from within the church from people I’ve tried to get help from and for 2 years with some specifically chosen warriors is quitting, then yep, I’m a quitter. May God have mercy on my soul because I’m sure not finding much of it among His people.

Now, the question that seems to be on people’s minds is what exactly is going on, where are we, and when are we moving back in together. This is the deal we made when Rob moved out:

1. I would not file for divorce before June 1, 2011. I know the healing we need is going to take some time, and before someone argues semantics, yes, I know God can and does heal instantly. However, part of the healing is learning to live differently. Being healed and acting the same way will only get us back where we were. We need to learn new habits and behaviors. We are willing to give it time.

2. Our goal is to create a solid foundation for co-parenting. Yeah, I know that is going to really hit some of you wrong. Don’t care.

3. Seek God in building a real friendship and marriage that has never existed. I know, so many of y’all think we are deceived and make excuses and all your “I don’t want to believe all that” stuff. Again, don’t care. We’ve been here. We know the truth. The truth—not religious comfort zones—make us free.

So, if we have neither filed for divorce or moved back in together by July 1st of next year, you are welcome to ask questions. Until then, you are welcome to pray.

Ah, yes, I nearly forgot. Some of you have been all over the fact we are getting along without fighting, and “that must mean every thing is fine.” That makes us laugh. Most folks have always seen us as the couple to be because of “how well we get along”. If being nice wasn’t enough before, what makes you think it is now? Have you not figured out yet that we can do a good show? And may I also suggest you consider the people of the opposite sex that you see at the store, office, or school with whom you get along fine a few hours a day but would drive you crazy if you saw them all the time or had to live with them? But let me guess. We are supposed to be different because we’re married. So saith the religious comfort zone….

I do have to say that not everyone has been so religious, judgmental, and in some cases, flat out condemning. There are considerable people who have loved on us, given us room to laugh, not felt the need to fix us, and just let our kids have fun. And, yes, most of them are Christians. A few are simply compassionate because of God’s grace. Most have been here themselves and fully understand. Sadly, their story sounds a lot like ours. In a few cases, instead of finding compassion and healing in the church, they had to leave because the lack of caring, the cold looks, and the obvious whispers only inflicted more pain.

As I said, we have four friends who know what is going on within our home. We all have one purpose: healing. But none of us are focusing on healing the marriage. The marriage isn’t sick. The marriage is a thing, an institution, that is only as healthy and whole as its members. Our goal is healing…of the individuals…because after all Jesus died for the people, not the marriage. I know that is shocking to some in the church who have the, “Save the marriage at all costs!” mentality, but really, Jesus died for people.

And for those who are all warped out of shape about that fact, let me put this as simply as possible. If the individuals heal, the marriage can heal. If the individuals don’t, the marriage won’t, and Rob and I both agree we’d rather get a divorce than to walk back into that perverted and twisted perform-to-look-good joke of an institution built on lies and sand. So, it is all about the healing of the individuals with no regard to the institution at this point. I know. Shockingly outside the religious boundaries of good Christianity. However, we are getting used to being shocking.

And some people love us anyway.

Continued in Part 5--Being Loved On

An Honest Letter from This Side of the "Fail" Line--Part 3

Institutional Idolatry

“Institution idolatry”. I didn’t know what that meant the first time I heard it from the Lord, but now I do. It means that the church worships the institutions even if it means sacrificing the individuals. I’ve seen it for 19 years.

When Rob and I were married, it was less than 48 hours before I knew we were in serious trouble. I won’t go into details. It’s not your business. I knew the secular world offered nothing. I was a sociology major, and I knew what they had to say, so I looked for help in the church. I have found this to be a painful and stupid choice.

At first I was told I was naïve, that I was just upset that marriage took effort. I grew up on a farm. I understand hard work. Hard work didn’t scare me. A husband who didn’t want to be there did.

Two years in when I was preparing to file for divorce because I couldn’t mentally or emotionally cope with the “stuff” anymore, we went to see the counselor who was wonderful. Since he was leaving, he suggested we talk to a counselor at our new church. Rob didn’t want to go, but I tried to seek help. I was told all the ways I was the problem from not wearing lipstick which left me unattractive (didn’t know the lack of lipstick made one ugly but it didn’t matter since Rob hated lipstick so I quit wearing it for him, but did the woman in leadership ask about that? Nope.) to not having supper on the table when he got home (at 3:30 in the afternoon) to being unsubmissive, critical, and a prude. Since she never really asked me about our marriage and never talked to Rob to see if those were his thoughts (although she did tell me later young men don’t really know what they want anyway, it’s our jobs as women to simply be and do the right thing), I’m not sure how she came to those conclusions, but since she was the one all the leaders pointed to, I figured seeking help from anyone else in the church was pointless.

The last time I actually tried to get help from someone in the church, I was told I needed to simply be thankful Rob paid the bills, didn’t do drugs, wasn’t a drunk, and didn’t beat me. Life could be so much worse, and I just needed to quit griping and learn to be thankful.

So…my job was to look on the bright side, don’t do anything he might think of as critical or unsubmissive, and just smile and be happy.

In other words, do whatever you have to do to make it look good…even if that means lie. So I lied.

Isn’t it sad that the people I tried to be honest with IN THE CHURCH are the very ones who said to lie? And honestly, I feel like most of them are saying the same thing to both of us now.

Institutional idolatry. Worshipping the institution while the individuals hurt in silence. Looks good. Keeps things clean and tidy. Wonder what God thinks of the lies.

And I already hear some of you saying, “We don’t think you should lie. We never said lie.” Except most of you still aren’t hearing the truth. You hear what you want to hear. You hear that these issues are brand new. You don’t want to believe there are people in the church living in perpetual pain because we found out a long time ago that it is easier to perform than to drown in the clichés or be slapped upside the head with the law that we already know we are not able to meet. Really. It’s easier to say nothing.

Or in our case, I tried to say something…over…and over….and over, and instead of being heard, instead of hearing about healing, I was told to suck it up and do the right thing, that I just needed to “trust God”, that I needed to quit being selfish, that I needed to…keep my mouth shut or be told again how it is all my fault because I’m selfish, faithless, and godless.

So I kept my mouth shut.

And then I got condemned for saying nothing until our marriage was in such disrepair that we could no longer live together.

Now, we are being judged and condemned for being honest about the pain and chasms that run so deep that the institution isn’t a concern, the individuals are. So many people—especially leaders in the church—are focused on the geography of our living arrangements, but they aren’t concerned about the wounds in our spirits, which is obvious since none of them have actually called or emailed to see how we are. The marriage must be saved! Even if we have to lie and perform. Whatever it takes as long as we do our job and look good.

We are tired of “just doing our job”, and we figure we can’t look a lot worse, so there isn’t anything to lose at this point.

Continued in Part 4--Healing

An Honest Letter from This Side of the "Fail" Line--Part 2

Either Take Time to Hear our Hearts or Don't Waste Our Time

Both Rob and I are really tired of the emails and phone calls offering advice from people who don’t bother to call/email and ask how we are doing. And, folks, let’s cut to it. If you call and talk more than you listen or interrupt us so you can give us your pre-packaged speech, you really aren’t calling because you are concerned about us. You are calling to give your opinions and tell us how to fit into your box. You want to offer fixes, not an ear, not compassion, not a safe place. Even the kids have figured this out. What dumbfounds us both is if you are shocked we are separated, you didn’t know things were wrong to begin with and certainly not the extent of problems we were having. If you don’t know the problems or how serious they are, you probably don’t have advice or counsel on how to fix them, and that scatter-shot approach so many are using is simply unfounded guesses formed into judgments, and you know what? They don’t make us feel any better. They just make it so we don’t answer the phone next time your number comes up.

One of the things I have found dumbfounding through this are the Christians who tell me to have faith for healing but seem to have none of their own. I cannot tell you the number of people who have formed condemning opinions of Rob based on information that I incorrectly trusted them with two months ago. In those two months, they have been judgmental at best and flat out hateful at worst, even going so far as saying Rob is headed for hell, without calling/emailing for follow up or assuming things could remotely change. And they NEVER contacted him at all. They said, “I’ll be praying for Rob’s healing and the healing of your marriage,” and instead of truly expecting healing and periodically asking, “Has the healing begun to manifest yet?”, they have taken on unrighteous indignation and offense that was not theirs to take. They did not take on concern or compassion. I have seen nothing that suggests their interest was in the restoration of the brother…just the condemning of him.

Folks, if that is really what Christianity in the church is, then Rob isn’t the only one that “has a hard heart and needs to get right with God”. In fact, after watching him humble himself over the last two months, maybe he should show you a few things.

Continued in Part 3-Institutional Idolatry

An Honest Letter from This Side of the "Fail" Line--Part 1

This is the first part of a very long letter I wrote with Rob's agreement and blessing addressed to members of  the church (different church groups and even different denominations) who have been less than compassionate, tactful, or helpful. In fact, they have inflicted greater pain than we were already experiencing.

After sending this to them, I posted it on Facebook. I have found that most people desire to help, and very few truly intend to hurt, but unless they've experienced a separation or divorce, they don't know how. They simply don't understand. It is easy to defend the instituation of marraige and forget there are hurting individuals involved.

I have chosen to share this on my blog not as a way to bash the church but simply as a way to inform, to give perspective from this side of the "fail" line.

I have tried to say very little about mine and Rob’s separation. Frankly, I don’t think it is anyone else’s business. The reason I have chosen to talk about it now is because I’m really pretty angry about a few things, and I want to address them. Some of you are getting this email because you are one I am angry at, and frankly, it’s easier to write one big email than to write a dozen or more, and some of you are getting it because I believe your hearts are humble enough to hear this, learn from it, and use it to love others. Plus, I have no patience whatsoever for adults who are so cowardly that they ask my children why Rob isn’t home or hasn’t moved home yet or what we are doing to fix things but don’t have the courage to email, call, or text either of us.

Let’s start with that last part.

First, DO NOT ask our children why we separated in the beginning, why we are still separated, or if things are getting better. Besides the fact that is just flat irresponsible, surely you realize we have done everything in our power to protect them from the issues leading to this, from the necessary conversations about the ugly and painful things that have gotten us here, and all discussion of salvaging the marriage. Why would you ask them? You may ask them how they are, how they are feeling, how their day/week is. Don’t be surprised if they are upbeat most of the time. We have all found we are doing well, feeling positive, and healing…except when we have to deal with people who are critical or overly sad “for us”. You may ask how you can pray for them. DO NOT ask about the marriage or mine and Rob’s relationship. If you want to know, have the courage to ask us. If we choose not to answer questions, trust we have a reason.

Besides adults having the bad judgment to ask our children, I am stunned at the people calling/emailing friends of ours to find out what others know.

Folks, four people knew what was going on within our home. FOUR! Those four knew because a) I trusted them, b) we knew they wouldn’t tell anyone else. Therefore, unless you know one of those four people, anyone you talk to is just as shocked as you are and guessing at what in the world happened as much as you are and that is how lies and fairy tales are created, and if you are talking to those four people, they won’t tell you anything anyway. That is how friendship works.

Despite the logic of this—and the sheer simplicity of it, I have been stunned by the number of people who are calling this person or that person trying to get information because we aren’t saying anything. I am shocked at how gossip is defended as concern. If you want to know how we are or what is going on or why we are doing something, call/email/text Rob or me. Do not talk to friends of ours. If we talk to them, it’s because we expect them to keep it confidential. Do not put them in a position to lie to you or break our trust.

If you ask us and we say we are fine, believe it. If you ask us and we say nothing, maybe it’s because we don’t want to tell you. Really, it’s that simple, and it is our right not to tell everyone everything. And don’t use this, “Then how will we know how to pray?” How about pray, “God, heal whatever is hurting them. Defend them against the enemy. Give them wisdom. Build this marriage and give them a deep and abiding love for each other and the courage to face the onslaught of the enemy”? Do you really need anything more than that? No, you don’t, and I’ll tell you why.

There is only one person either of us have sought help from in the last 19 years—yes, 19, like since the first week we were married, and I realized things were not okay and it wasn’t just marriage shock—that has not put human interpretation and human “fix” on it. One pastor at Church on the Rock North actually heard us and responded to us without giving us a lecture on law, judging, or telling us the many ways we were failing. Sadly, he left the next week for Israel, so we were not able to work with him. I often wonder if we had, would things be different? It doesn’t matter, though, since he did leave and we are where we are. The simple fact is we don’t need human filters or human fixes. We need God’s answers and His healing, and that isn’t always what YOU expect it to be.

If you haven’t gotten offended and deleted this yet, let’s move on.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Obviously Here

The children are in bed. The television is off. The house is quiet, and I am feeling...lonely.

It is one of those moments when I want to reach over, touch someone near me, and feel grounded. Instead, my fingers tap across the keyboard. I reach out through the ether and wonder if anyone is reaching back.

In truth, I know they are. Friends around the world are lifting my family...and especially me...up in prayer, sending emails regularly, making the phone calls to hear my heart via my voice. People are reaching out. People are pulling us in.

Still, tonight, I feel lonely.

Tonight I feel heavy with the prognosis of three months for my mom. My mind is speckled with thoughts seemingly absurd and pointless that I try to stuff into the you-can't-be-serious box, but in truth, I am mentally taking out emotional treasures, turning them around in my mind, trying to figure out how to keep them intact as much as possible while not letting them shatter me.

I have spent untold time today trying to remember the recipe for Mom's dressing. I think I know. At the grocery store I buy the supplies to make it...three or four times...make sure I can get this right...before she isn't here to tell me how to fix it if I get it wrong.

I go through my monthly bills, think about Christmas shopping, figure out in my head if I will have enough for what I want to buy the children or if I need to tighten the belt a bit more each month. Then I think of other family members, do a quick count, figure out a general budget for everyone else...

...except Mom.

According to the doctor three months might be a hopeful guess. Three months...Christmas.

I swallow the lump in my throat.

Christmas shopping for Mom has become an event for me. I would go out by myself, have some pumpkin spice coffee, and head to a specific clothing store. For the last few years I've bought Mom clothing at a fun store next to the bookstore where I buy the children's school curricula. I wonder how long I can avoid that store, driving into the parking lot, and looking at the clothing store I have always enjoyed visitingin search of just the right thing for Mom.

In my mind I can see the store through the windshield of my car. I can't move. I only stare...with no reason to go in.

Will she even be here Christmas? What if she is, but evidence appears that God is not going to work a miracle? Which is harder: having no one to buy for or not knowing what to buy for someone whose life will not offer her time to use it? Then I shake my head like an Etch-a-Sketch. "Harder" doesn't matter. Whatever comes will be hard enough.

In a moment of emotional numb, I punch in a text to a friend. "My mom is going to die." I stare at the words...and erase them. He knows already. I know. Telling him again won't help. Seeing his reply, "I know, babe. I'm so sorry," again won't help.

I toss the phone to the empty side of the bed, pull my pillow against me, and lie quiet.

God, I feel so lonely.

I hear Him speak through the words of a verse that has repeatedly come before me throughout the last two weeks.
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.--Zephaniah 3:17
A smile comes to my face as I remember a phone call from earlier in the day.

The doctor's office called to clarify some information concerning Mom. Laura, the woman who spoke with me, had lost her dad to the same cancer Mom has. Laura's heart was so tender, and her words, so gentle. The five-minute call turned to thirty as we discussed my hometown (where she owns a historic home), the chocolatier on The Square who makes fabulous truffles, and the pain of feeling powerless. Then she said, "You'll be here Monday with your mom, right?" Yes. "I have to go up to the house this Friday. I'll pick us up some truffles, and Monday you come early. We'll sit, eat truffles, drink some coffee, and talk."

The Lord your God is with you...with truffles, coffee, and compassion...

He will quiet you with His I lie on my bed, my mind filled with treasures that make me ache...that bring me such joy...

I sigh deep. The ache still throbs in Him. The loneliness of pending loss is still real...but so is He...Earlier today He reached out His the form of a phone call and some truffles...and found me...Now, in the quiet, I reach out my heart...and find Him...

I Know God is Not Female

If God were female...

....mosquitoes would suck fat, not blood, and they would target thighs, hips, buttocks, and belly rolls.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Unlawful Grace

I understand law. I understand rules. I understand black and white.

What I don't understand is grace.

I have spent the last two months trying to come to grips with the law, my responsibility according to rules, and trying to live in the black and white. I have tried to squeeze myself into the boxes defined by the law and found myself dying there.

I am not saying the law is wrong. I am just confessing either my humanity is too strong or my faith is too weak. I am confessing that I have failed...and am failing. I can't do this.

I am left outside the law wondering what happens to people like me, people who simply aren't skilled enough or determined enough or able to lie well enough to fit into the "with Christ all things are possible" picture. What about us?

What about me?

The truth is I know God hates divorce. Me too. I know the vows I took...for better or for worse. I know my responsiblity to my children. I know the covenant I made. I job. And I believe if I do my job, it opens the door for God to redeem, restore, and heal. However, for reasons I will not discuss, I find it impossible to do my job. I have spent weeks trying to figure out to do my job better, how to make myself conform. I can't, though. I simply cannot perform to the standards of the law. If I do my job well, I open the door for blessings. If I don't do it well, then what?


"21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law."--Romans 3
Grace--The divine favor toward man; the mercy of God, as distinguished from His justice; also, any benefits His mercy imparts; divine love or pardon; a state of acceptance with God; enjoyment of the divine favor. (,grace )

The state of acceptance with God.

Is it really possible to be a failure and be acceptable to God?

Honestly, that thought does not fit into my black and white world. Grace has always been what allowed God to overlook the failures on my way to getting it right once I was right, but what about along the road? What covers me while I'm on the way to getting it right or simply doing the best I can at the moment? What happens when I go crashing down the face of K2...again...and lie at the bottom battered and bleeding, ready to give up, knowing I don't have what it takes to reach the summit? What then?

Grace...not lawful grace, not the kind that is dependent on knowing I can or will get it right, but unlawful grace, the grace that steps outside the law, covering me with the blood of Christ, even when I keep getting it wrong.

It's that unlawful grace that says, "With Christ all things--despite my failure and humanness...despite his--are possible with Christ." It is that amazing unlawful grace that allows me to believe my children will be blessed, whole, and flourishing instead of being the lifelong wounded emotional wastelands people tell me they will be. It is the same grace that tells me God can still use me to make a difference in lives, can use my writing to impact the world. The same grace tells me even when we are not strong enough or capable enough to keep promised vows we can build a foundation of safety and security for our children.

Grace that all things are my my his...

Grace that even when I am not good enough all He is and all He can still more than enough.