"In your life, is Jesus useful...
...or is he beautiful?"
"Learn the unforced rhythms of grace."
These two phrases have echoed in my heart and mind since February 7th and I've loved what they have spoken in me. There is a renewal and a refreshing in learning to let go the hand that grasps so tightly at habit, at normalcy. A quenching of long suffering thirst when one is able to let loose the strict bound chains of worry and anxiety of doing it all right, in favor of just living.
These past few weeks I've set a goal of not having goals. Track with me, the goals here are really expectations for to-do list checking, clear counter tops and folded laundry baskets and Martha Stewart home making and I have dropped them in favor of the unforced rhythms of grace. Grace over myself, my children, my husband, my world. Expectations are some times these cell blocks that cage in our joy.
Husband doesn't say, do, help enough.
A bar goes up, joy with no parole.
Kids fight, argue, disobey, make messes.
The lock turned tight.
Friends ignore, say wrong somethings, say wrong nothings
Joy serving its death sentence.
What if...what if...we just lived? Lived with grace enough for people we share our lives with that we could enjoy daily living with out that constant let down of "not enough?" We fill our head space with those not enough thoughts. Of ourselves, our spouses, our kids, our friends. The endless list of not enough, making steal cages bar by bar so we can't feel full. What if all that grace we get from heaven, for all the mistakes and not so mistakes and full out poor choices...what if that was what we gave out? It takes time to LEARN those rhythms.
But I think we could.
I've started simply, with strangers. I realized how often my face of joy is hiding silent cuts at the other. My jealousy of ladies more fit than I at the gym, spouting into judgment that "they must _____ too much, not enough", blah blah. Or you know those thoughts about a friend who is dear to you, yet your mind cuts them for this or that choice? I've been making a conscious effort to TURN OFF THE STREAM OF JUDGMENT.
I realize that there are probably some of you who don't have this, who are naturally sweet, gentle, the criticism not surfacing so ugly. What a gift you have, truly. But for those of us who struggle with steel bars, we know it is mostly because we judge ourselves so harshly that we judge others as such. We have a choice, though strange and unnatural, to hear those thoughts rising, and crush them with the good.
So when I find myself saying, "Self! Why are there ALWAYS baskets of laundry unfolded?!? Why can't you JUST GET IT DONE?!" Or when I'm tempted to question some one's purchase, or clothing choice or tone of voice, or my husband for not doing what I had hoped, or my kids for JUST BEING KIDS...I turn it off, and turn it to good. I am starting to see this whole new world where people aren't just bodies, they are PEOPLE. They have hurts, and awkward moments and a back story that makes them exactly who they are and they are on their own journey and I am just. on. mine. I do the other no good with my negative inside dialogue, so I've been writing their stories instead. I try to see why that lady in line in front of me might be yelling at her kids, see her hurt making them hurt and then compassion wells up.
So here's this, this making Jesus BEAUTIFUL by seeing the beauty in those he loves. What would it take for me to TRULY love my neighbor, a stranger; to see the hurt they hide in their "flaws?" How could we, as women, choose to not compare, to not question motives, but to love fully and let the Spirit guide the rest?
Do we dare try? Could we change our very world?
What do you think? How do we start?