Not Knowing This Grace

Not Knowing This Grace November 13, 2018

Grace struck me over the side of the head a couple of nights ago and all I could do was shake my head in wonder.

I guess I hadn’t noticed how deeply entrenched in grace I was until I stopped and paused and read a blinking, neon light of a sentence in a spiritual memoir about this state of grace:

Only when guided by inspiration do we choose right, when we are receptive, in a state of grace. But that is rare, even very rare. And those who are (in the state of grace) do not know it. I mean, at the time.

I hadn’t realized this grace when friend after friend dropped off a meal at our house or had dinner delivered for us. I hadn’t seen this grace when texts and phone calls and emails came in, when a buddy dropped off a fistful of flowers just because she knew we’d been having a hard week. And I hadn’t known this grace when my tired body fell asleep on the floor of my boys’ room, bones weary with exhaustion, eyes spent from crying.

But when I read that sentence, I saw the gift that had been enveloping me and holding me and propping me up all along. I saw this grace. 

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, the rise and fall of my chest the rhythms of prayer.

Please, God. Help, God. Show me you are with me now, God. 

And I kept repeating those holy words until the sounds began to calm my heart, over and over and over again.

I suppose this is part of the deal: sometimes we don’t know this grace (or this fill-in-the-blank whatever else), when we’re smack-dab in the middle of receiving all of this grace. It might be obvious to everyone else, but it’s not always obvious to us.

It reminds me of a lights-out, on-the-floor, special kind of story time that happens every couple of nights with our boys. As bedtime routines usually go, we don’t tend to deviate too far from putting pajamas on, brushing teeth, going potty and reading a couple of books. But sometimes the boys will ask for Mama to tell them a special story. And if they’re making good choices and being quiet and already snuggled underneath their covers, then I’ll lay down on the floor beside their bunk bed and steady my imagination to tell a story fit for a couple of kings.

“Mama, I want to be a ceratopsian and a lion!” Done. 

“And I want to be a crystal and a diamond.” Done. 

On my end, the story usually starts the same: “One day in a land far, far away” (which really is just another ploy to buy me a couple of seconds so I can further formulate the story in my mind). Then, a little bit of adventure and a little bit of mystery appear; then, a little bit of hardship and a little bit of friendship too.

But always in the story, there’s grace. Always, there’s kindness. Always, there’s bravery and being strong enough to do the hard things. Always, we end on a positive note. And as of late, always there’s a reminder that it’s okay for the dinosaur family to feel sad and mad when they’re forced to move from one continent to another (and become friends with the lions who are so very different from them).

My boys don’t see that they’re swimming in grace, you see. They don’t realize that the story Mama tells them as their eyes begin to flutter and close is really a story about the hard time they’re in right now. Because right now, it’s okay for them just to think that it’s a story about lions and dinosaurs coming together alongside the two most beautiful objects in the world, diamonds and crystals.

They don’t see what the story is really all about, but I do.

And it’s a story I’ll keep telling until I don’t have to anymore, because this story of grace will continue to surround me even when I don’t realize it in the moment.

So tell me, could it be the same for you?

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