grace in those shadowed places

I would offer an apology that things have been so quiet around this little blog but I’m actually quite content with the pace of life these days. I hope to find a more regular rhythm for my writing but I have truly enjoyed this month of settling in, slow evenings and lots of early bedtimes.

As we turn the corner on cooler days and fall starts to flirt with the tips of leaves, I’m feeling so re-energized for the good work to be done! It’s finally cool enough for evenings of baking and an extra quilt on the bed at night, perfect weather for snuggling in with a  book. It reminds me of my first fall living in Chicago proper. Kayla and I shared a little bedroom, twin beds shoved against the long walls with little bedside tables crammed in-between. Each night, I’d snuggle down under the warm layers, crack my window for a little nip of the crisp cool and get lost in a good book. Those were the days of working part time afternoon jobs when we could sleep through the morning traffic on Addison and enjoy lazy mornings of errands or cooking or catching up on favorite tv shows. It was a better season of life than I realized at the time. Worry was always close at hand, wondering about how to make ends meet and what a “real job” meant for me as I struggled to understand just who I was becoming in this great large world. The meager plans I made continued to meet dead ends and I was so lost, everything complicated by the first difficult and thrilling steps of learning to dance with Drew, unsure where we were headed together or apart..and when.

Over that long year of learning about each other Drew introduced me to Mr. Capon and his beautiful way of viewing the gospel as endless grace.  It is such an orientation, that grace-love. So often, I manage my world trying to deny my desperation for such hope, orienting myself instead towards whatever seems likely to make me feel whole. And then, instead of the beautiful prodigal welcome home, back into the warmth of such peace and love, I feel overwhelmed by the depths of my broken state to need such lavish grace.

This was one of those weeks when I had to stop and listen and hear the hurt I was causing this man I have covenanted love with. It is so hard. First, to really listen and hear his hurt without the filter of my own self-righteous indignation and excuses. Then, to actually be affected by it; the ways that my selfishness and ignorance and impatience have actually pushed Drew towards posturing and protecting rather than the freedom of grace.

And then what? Then I am left with tears and self doubt and heartache, totally lost for how to be the sort of person who encourages another to flourish. How can we reconcile when I know that my heart is so far from being the kind that loves unhindered? What confidence can I have (or he in me?) in any hope that I might not continue down this ugly way?

What a precious gift to have confidence in the Hope we profess. Our hope in new life! I love that grace totally bucks my longing to be a better version of myself as penitence for my guilt. How marvelous and fitting that instead grace sweeps in and washes over and around, light and invigorating as an autumn breeze on a chilly night, begging me to settle in ’round the roaring fire and just be, promising to be a love larger than I can ponder, perhaps simply so I can ponder and be renewed!

Grace meets me in the dark corners of my soul, the places where my doubts raise ugly fists to pummel my hope. She does not fight back as a warrior, with swords to wipe out the enemy. Instead, she settles in and listens and makes a home among the shadows. This week, when my fear and ache to be found out as such an unloving and unlovable person was overwhelming, Grace was already waiting for me.

And for Drew too, I suspect. Somehow, by some mystery of this wild God-Spirit in us, gracing our darkest places, we can press on together and past the masks that are so tempting to hide behind. We have been given another glimpse of the impossible love lavished on us, as we are. Love that hems us in behind and before.

As we enter a new season of life together and encounter all the questions of what can and could and will be, doubt and fear are all too eager to take the reigns. I want to learn to call upon the Grace, the Spirit-hope that is also always within me and also eager to wash over, but with unbridled, unearned, unimaginable peace and joy.

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