Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16
“Momma, today I am going to give you a little grace,” announced my carefree, rapidly approaching five-year-old. She was painting a rainbow, too consumed by her “masterpiece” to even look at me with those big brown eyes while she spoke.
“Why do you keep saying that to me? This is the third time this week you have said that to Momma,” I responded. She put down her paintbrush, and with a smile so big it encompassed her entire face, she whispered softly into my ear, “Because I think you really need some grace right now.”
I should interject here that my daughter has the mental acuity of a fifteen-year-old, maybe more. She expresses herself as well as many adults, and her memory and comprehension sometimes rival my own. To say that she’s precocious is putting it mildly.
A few weeks prior, we went through a week “for the books.” You know — everyday, every minute, it seemed, was a battle. I used all the ammunition in my “discipline arsenal” — timeouts, spankings, screen time restrictions, threats to lock her in her room until she was eighteen — hoping that one or a combination thereof would result in a “turning point,” but to no avail. I held off using the last weapon, her best friend’s birthday party, sincerely hoping it wouldn’t be necessary, but by Friday afternoon I found myself at a breaking point, “THAT’S IT! NO PARTY FOR YOU,” I fired.
BOOM! The fallout from the bomb I just dropped was immediately palpable and affected more people than my incorrigible daughter. I looked forward to going to the party myself, to seeing some of my “Momma” friends and welcomed a much needed reprieve from such a hard week. Needless to say, I felt like I was punishing myself by not allowing her to attend. And of course, there was her best friend to consider. I mean, wouldn’t this be punishing her, too?
So, by Saturday morning, I had second thoughts and told my husband I was considering changing my mind about the party and the consequence I had doled out to our daughter. To do such a thing is like heresy for us because one of our house rules is to always stick by decisions of this kind, especially in front of our children. We want them to know that we mean what we say and won’t be manipulated to “cave in,” by them or anyone else, for better or for worse. Hmm. . .
Now, how was a good parent and God-fearing woman like myself going to handle this dilemma? Well, I decided to turn this into a Bible lesson. You know, there are times when we parents must confess to our children that we were wrong and even ask for forgiveness, while hopefully imparting God’s Word and His will in the process, right? Right.
I sat my daughter on her bed, feet dangling over the edge, breakfast crumbs encrusting the corners of her mouth, and endeavored to explain the theological concepts of GRACE and MERCY. It went something like this: since God shows us grace, all the time, we should be ready to do the same to others, which was what I was going to do by allowing her to go to the party, although her behavior throughout the week was deplorable and made her undeserving. Not sure she really understood all of this, but she seemed pretty thankful that I had changed my mind, I mean, given her some grace, and subsequently, lifted the ban on the party, so I felt pretty good about easing off and letting her go afterall. Lesson over, mission accomplished.
Fast forward to the moment mentioned at the beginning. This time I was the one having a difficult week. I am in my third trimester with my third baby and a most uncomfortable and frustrated “woman with child.” Constant sciatica and pelvic pain restrict me physically; thus, my productivity is almost nil, and it all makes me one irritable woman. I lose my temper with the girls, and in between screams, I burst into tears, barely able to walk from my bed to the couch where I contemplate gluing my eyelids open so I would at least give the illusion that I’m awake. (Oh, If only hibernation were possible until this baby arrives!)
Frequently, God uses the lessons I strive to teach my children about Him to teach me and to change my heart, like on this particular day when I said, “Momma just cannot play with you girls today, and I’m sorry. I’m having a hard time and need a little break.” That’s when my oldest said, “Momma, you know what? I think you just need a little grace.” Whoa! Goosebumps pricked my skin from head to toe; it was like she was Moses coming down from Mt. Sinai, delivering me a message. Straight From God.
In his article, What Is Grace, Understanding Christian Meaning, Justin Holcombe puts it this way: “Grace is most needed and best understood in the midst of sin, suffering, and brokenness. We live in a world of earning, deserving, and merit, and these result in judgment. That is why everyone wants and needs grace. Judgment kills. Only grace makes alive.” AMEN! I was “suffering,” for sure. But wait — if I really believe this (and I do), then why do I give grace to others, yet rarely to myself? Because I’m proud and pass harsh judgement on myself continually — for not being enough, for not doing enough and on and on.
No matter how difficult the situation, I mutter, “I can do this. I can manage without help,” as confidently as my two-year-old. And just as there are things that she can’t do at her stage of life, there are times I must admit the same. My to-do list never comes close to being completed these days. Exercise is only for short bursts or not at all. I’m unable to write and complete other work because of sheer exhaustion. The television is on more than I would like because the energy and physical demands to play and chase young children are too strenuous on my body right now. And that is okay, I keep telling myself; this season of life will not last forever.
Friend, there is a purpose for whatever season of life we experience. God has placed us there for a particular reason, sometimes for reasons known only to Him. Maybe we’re in certain circumstances as a result of sin and constant rebellion against God, or perhaps He wants us to slow down to take time to really notice our surroundings, even if we don’t accomplish what we deem important. For me presently, my physical limitations force me to simply sit still, and let me tell ya somethin’, to accept this, to just sit, requires a whole lot of grace!
In a few months, I will have my body back, along with more energy. I will be able to resume my typical schedule and activities, and life will go back to “normal.” But in the meantime, I must pass along some grace to myself as freely as I do to others. This popular, well-meaning expression is not to be confused with God’s grace, the ultimate example, but it is a doable, human demonstration of compassion, concern and caring that makes things better for everyone, ourselves included. In other words, giving ourselves some grace means unapologetically being kind to ourselves or “cutting ourselves some slack,” now and then, especially when we feel unworthy or a little ashamed in the process. And that’s exactly what God used my daughter to tell me that day, that I wasn’t a bad mother because I needed to rest instead of play.
As you start this new year, resist the temptation to fill your calendar with a never ending list of goals and things to achieve. Instead, thank the Lord for the infinite, matchless grace, the loving-favor He showers daily on you and ask Him to help you find ways to demonstrate compassion and caring for others, including yourself from time to time. It’s okay.
God will give you enough so you can always give to others. This gift you give not only helps Christians who are in need, but it also helps them give thanks to God. You are proving by this act of love what you are. T hey will give thanks to God for your gift to them and to others. This proves you obey the Good News of Christ. They will pray for you with great love because God has given you His loving-favor. Thank God for His great Gift.
II Corinthians 9:11-14 (NLV)