Unforced Rhythms of Grace
I didn’t post anything yesterday. Two years ago I would have agonized over that fact. Little by little I’m learning to accept imperfection. The good girl trapped in me really wants to do EVERYTHING by the rules. Believe it or not, there are not rules for blogging. Last year I made the switch from posting five days a week down to four… and even sometimes down to three. But I had yet to give myself permission to miss posting on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Don’t even ask where that OCD bit came from.
I spent yesterday packing my hospital bag and organizing my house. I’m nine months pregnant and nesting is in full swing. I don’t even have a kid yet and it feels like there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything I have planned. So rather than beating myself up for not finishing every task, or for taking time to read over my lunch break, I’m learning just to let go. I’m a much more pleasant version of myself when I’m not stressed or anxious.
All of the progress I’ve made in the past year with my counselor is fueling the other aspects of my life. This self-shamer is leaving guilt at the door and learning to give grace more readily. My mantra…
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28, MSG
Here’s how I’m practicing grace this summer:
1. The house doesn’t have to be perfect. Invite people into your mess.
2. It’s okay to play hookie every once in a while. I don’t want to miss an appointment or be rude, but sometimes I also just need to tell myself that the world will not stop spinning if I don’t write a blog post.
3. Sometimes we say “yes” to others in order to bless them, even when there’s nothing gain on our end. I will always remember my mom telling me about the shift she made in her thinking about funerals. She doesn’t attend for the person who has passed, instead she attends in order to love on those who are hurting and grieving. There are a lot of things I don’t “feel” like doing – but it’s not always about me, is it?
4. Give the benefit of the doubt to the cashier, waiter, or staff member. We never know what kind of day someone else is having. Atticus Finch will always remind me how “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” (Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird) Demonstrating patience is a tangible evidence of grace.
5. Write letters. There’s something so enchanting, exciting, and wonderful about seeing your name on an envelope that does not contain a bill. Perhaps your note might be the perfect picture of grace to someone struggling this week.
6. Daily connect with the Author of Grace. I’m working through a book that I’ve owned for nine years and yet have never actually read. I needed a workbook so I pulled Soul Feast by Marjorie J. Thompson off my shelf. I’m only in the second chapter but this book is getting highlighted quite a bit. This section is sticking with me today:
“Spiritual disciplines are like garden tools. The best spade and hoe in the world cannot guarantee a good crop. They only make it more likely that growth will be unobstructed. They mystery of maturation lies in the heart of the seed, and the outcome of planting depends largely on the vagaries of weather. Still, tools are important in helping to ensure that planted seeds will bear fruit. Tools can remove stones and roots, aerate the soil, weed and water the garden.
Disciplines like prayer, scriptural reflection, and hospitality have the character of garden tools. They help keep the soil of our love clear of obstruction. They keep us open to the mysterious work of grace in our heart and our world. They enable us not only to receive but to respond to God’s love, which in turn yields the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.” (Marjorie J. Thompson, Soul Feast)
I know the list isn’t long, so feel free to suggest some more. This is just what came to mind at the moment. I’m sure I will be seeking more grace in the coming weeks and months.