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.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Grace--When Looking Up Says You Never have to Look Behind Again

"Jerri, you keep mentioning grace, and I've heard about it in church, but I really don't understand what it is."

"Jerri, I have this head knowledge of what grace is, but I can't figure out how to make it heart knowledge."

"Jerri, you keep mentioning grace. What IS it?"

Let me tell you about me, and my experience with grace, and maybe that'll make it more real and less "theological dictionary."

When I was a teenager, I had an addiction to prescription drugs. I used alcohol to excess so I could feel numb. I thought the most valuable thing about me was my jeans size. I got everything wrong and nothing right, and there was an ample number of people who told me so. I was horribly ashamed of who I was and what I did, and there was no way out of it. I was judged by people in my family, in my school, and in my church. Did I mention I ran with the "bad" crowd? Druggies. Drunks. Thieves. People who thought sex was a premium and people were expendable. People with rap sheets as long as my arm with no fear of the law. In fact, the only law  they recognized was the one on the streets dictated by the situation.

In an effort to pull my life together, I met a "nice boy", finished college, and got married. The degree turned out to be useless for employment, and before the honeymoon was over, I realized I had made a huge mistake but had no where to go and saw no way to get out. I tried to get help from the church and the church leaders only to be told what I failure I was because he was so amazing, it must be me. I spiraled into a dark place, shut down, hid the truth no one wanted to hear...and hated myself more than ever.

Nineteen years later, the charade came apart. A divorce petition was filed, and the fake I had been for all those years was right in the open for all to see, and judgments came hard and fast. And can one really drown in shame because if you can, surely I would?

How could I have stayed with someone like that? Did I have no self-respect? How could I lie? It was my fault for not telling. And it felt like all the sins and failures and false claims were waged against me, and I had been found guilty of it all because how could I be found otherwise? And there I stood in front of the firing squad who felt they had every right to demand I take responsibility for the whole mess I had created, and, Lord God, was it ever a mess.

I had made the wrong choice. I had married badly. I had...believed for the miracle that didn't come, and when you believe for a miracle and it comes, you look like a giant of faith, but if you believe for a miracle that doesn't come, you look like a sham and a failure. I looked like the biggest charlatan of all.

So there I stood. Taking the beating and the hits and the judgments, and there was no way out. There was no defense because how do you defend a life gone so horribly wrong? You can't.

But you can hide.

Except you don't hide in the lies or in the facades. You don't hide in mirages of what you wish things were. You hide in Truth.

You hide in Him.

You hide in the One who says, "I'm not ashamed of who you are or who you were or what you've done. I'm not ashamed to have my name associated with yours. I'm not ashamed to be seen with you. In fact, I want to be here. I want you for me. I want to give you grace."

Grace is the thing  that steps between you and the Judge, and instead of your getting beaten, it takes the bullet you deserve. Instead of hating you for all you've done, it loves you because you are simply you. It doesn't look at who you've been. It sees who you are and were created to be, and instead of looking back, it rejoices in now and looks forward to what will come.

Grace is the get-out-of-the-disgusting-Jerri free card. It is the gift that says you no longer have to be who you were or  think like you did or hate yourself for what you weren't. It is the Voice that says, "You are fearfully and wonderfully made. I have a purpose for you. You are worth dying for," and when you point to the past, He smiles and says, "I'm bigger than all that."

It is the safe place where punishment isn't, and you no longer have to fear the next shoe dropping. It is where you can breathe and dream of what you can become instead of carrying the weight of what and who you have been.

Grace is the Love that says, "You are more important to me than my right to be angry about not being important to you.."

Grace is what says I don't have to carry a sign that says:

"I'm an addict, a drunk, a failure at marriage, a failure in society, a failure at life.
I am an embarrassment to my parents, a bad example for my peers, and disgrace to my church.
I lose patience with my kids, lose desire to care, lose concern for others.
I deserve nothing good because I am nothing good."

Because in grace, none of that matters any more.

What matters is that I let Jesus take the nails, take the garbage, and have my heart.

What matters is that I choose God's love over my self-hate.

What matters is that I leave my insanity in the graveyard where I was living and walk right into civilized society and tell people how good God is because how good He is far more world changing than how bad I was.

Grace is when you are on your knees sobbing with your heart screaming, "If only I could start over...", and you hear that whisper that says, "You can."

Grace is what forgets what you got wrong yesterday and excitedly waits to see what you get right today.

Grace is the gift that lives in the present and has no interest in the past.

Grace is all about who He is and so very unconcerned with who I was.

Grace is what says, "You don't have to look back. Just look up."

So I do, and in Him, I find me. The peace-filled me. The hopeful me. The fearfully and wonderfully made me...the me I always wanted to be but never could on my own, and you know what that looks like?

It looks like grace.

No comments:

Post a Comment