"For grace to be grace, it must give us things we didn't know we needed and take us to places where we didn't want to go."
Apparently I needed to learn a bit more about grace. Because I've gotten some serious helpings of it this week. And I've gone some places I didn't really want to go.
I've tackled a huge project in the last two weeks. In my passion and zeal for doing good, I ended up doing some damage.
I'm beating myself up a bit for not being more careful, more thoughtful. For not planning ahead and paying attention to detail. For neglecting the ongoing things that must be done in an effort to tackle a whole bunch of new stuff that needed to be done. For ignoring the needs of people in my rush to formulate a plan.
Grace showed me all this, with tenderness and kindness and understanding. With patience. It doesn't necessarily soften the reality of the things I did wrong, but it puts things in perspective.
So I'm left with a big bunch of grace. It came to bring me things I didn't know I needed - a gentle, loving reprimand that broke my heart. A firm reminder that 'words matter'. A few healthy questions about ideas and plans uncommunicated that left others feeling ignored and left behind. A face-to-face meeting with someone who said, "You really hurt my feelings." A friend, hurt. A roomful of people, shell-shocked by ill-prepared, poorly chosen words.
Add that to a few things unsaid, awkward moments of conversation that made it obvious that something was amiss, and you have a ripe opportunity for an invitation to grace.
Today, all these things came home to show me what I needed.
"Have mercy on me, oh God, according to your steadfast love, according to your great compassion blot out my many trangressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from sin." Psalm 51,1-3 (NIV)
I know this by heart. I lived in the middle of these words for a long season of my life.
Tonight, the same scripture, paraphrased different, spoke to my heart:
"Generous in love - God, give grace! Huge in mercy - wipe out my bad record!" Psalm 51.1 (The Message)
I feel foolish, and ashamed, and dumb. I feel insensitive and unkind. I'm embarrassed.
And yet I do not feel unloved.
I feel grace.
"Going through the motions doesn't please you; a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don't for a moment escape God's notice." Psalm 51.16-17 (The Message)
*quote above from Kathleen Norris, via A Song Not Scored For Breathing