Eighteen years, full of brightness and color, hurt and sadness, joy and discovery, betrayal and letting go, dancing and laughter...eighteen years full of grace.
Recently, I heard someone express pity for non-Christians, as the pain of their memories is truly all that there is for them, it's all that they see. But, as Christians, we are graced with the ability to see God at work, even in our toughest moments.
So I have taken to thanking God for the painful moments in my life. Not just the kind of painful, hard moments...but the kick-in-the-stomach memories, the ones the knock the wind out of you and bring tears to your eyes even after all of these years because the things that happened were genuinely wrong. The hurt that you felt was real and you weren't just overreacting or overly emotional...those times when you were shaken to the core and wondered what the point of anything was.
I have a tendency to just shove those memories away under the guise of "here God, take my life!", when in reality, I'm just holding on even more tightly, because what is He going to do with them? Do I just have to forget? I want to forget...but I don't want to let the person go unpunished. I want to keep being angry and bitter and hurt, because that's how that person deserves me to be.
Especially when the pain isn't acknowledged, when it's side stepped with a "get over it" or a "you just need to forgive and focus on your own faults"...especially when no one is there, when no on stands up for you...so you feel like you have to battle on your own. I have felt like it's just me against the world, and God is there to be the cheerleader. It's up to me to fight and get all bloodied up.
When in reality...it's me fighting against myself. My actions aren't affecting the people who have hurt me...I'm the one who is dealing with them on a daily basis. They are just causing more and more hurt.
So, within the last month, I have intentionally been going back to those moments when I've felt my weakest. And I have been asking Jesus to just flood those moments with His grace...for in my weakness, His power is strong.
Through His grace, I have been surrendering more and more each day. There is something so validating about our pain. We cling to it and nurse it, but don't do anything to eradicate it. In a sense, we want it to define us. We like to feel bad for ourselves and to be justified in feeling badly about others who cause hurt.
Friends, we are children of God. We were not created to suffer. God allows it because He gives us a free will and there are merits and graces that come from suffering, but this kind of suffering is ridiculous and self-centered. Jesus Christ was BRUTALLY MURDERED so that we could be free of our identity of hurt...and come to cling to our true identity as His bride (the Church!), as God's children.
We don't need to hold on to our pain. We can surrender it to a God who is in control. He knows our pain, He sees it...and He feels it, right along with us. He cries with us. He doesn't tell us that our hurts don't matter...He tells us that He's sorry. He tells us that He loves us. His promise of "it's going to be okay", isn't empty because He literally died so that it would be even more than okay...that it would be true, good, and right.
So, let's let go. We don't have to battle. He fights for us...and He has already won.
1 Peter 5:7 tells us to "Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you." What a beautiful truth.
Every moment of my life, every pain, every joy...it's grace. It's through the grace of God that I'm here right now, that I was created, that I'm surviving. Every single moment of my life has been flooded with His grace, whether or not I've seen it. Moments of pain are made beautiful in the light of unending, explainable grace.
God's grace is alive and well...God is on the move and He has been working in my life since day one. Because of grace, I can call pain and suffering "beautiful" because I know that my Daddy has a plan. More than that, I know that He cares for me. He loves me.
This moment, right now, this is grace. These words...they are grace.
Eighteen years of grace. That is the story of my life, ultimately. I am the beloved of the Son and the daughter of the Father and my life is grace.
So is yours.
I'm praying for you.