Grace. Seems like I’ve been hearing this word everywhere. On the radio. Reading a book. At church. Grace.
I grew up in church. My best friend grew up in church. My ancestors were preachers. So I can’t get away from God. Growing up in church was a good thing for me. We had rules. Rules that most Southern churches in the Bible belt have no matter the denomination, so I would be able to keep my soul from hell, rules. No alcohol. No pants at church. No ugly language. Other rules that would sound silly and do sound silly if I said them. I am sure, that at the time these rules were made, that the people making the rules had my best interest at heart. I don’t like rules. If it wasn’t for the rules keeping me on the straight and narrow, I would have been wild. There is no telling where I would have wound up if I hadn’t been forced to obey rules. I don’t guess I was really forced to obey the rules but it was just something that was done if you were a Christian. Everyone else was obeying the same rules so I just followed suit. Don’t get me wrong. There were times that I didn’t obey! I’m am rebellious. It is my worst fault. When my mom told me that I couldn’t wear my shorts short, I would roll them up as far as I could get them. Obviously, she wasn’t around when I did this.
Then, when I was 19, that idea changed. I married someone that was all about performance. How good things looked on the outside. For 20 years, our entire life was about performance. He performed as a pastor making sure that, if you were looking in from the outside, it all looked lovely. I learned how to perform as a wife and a military spouse. He didn’t love me so the performance centered on things to get his attention. Making sure I cleaned the house clean enough. Making sure I cooked the best dinner I could cook. As a military spouse, making sure I volunteered for the right committees or lead the right groups.
Then we divorced. I’ll save you the gory details but in the end God delivered me. (I’ll talk more about being delivered in another blog post.) Even though my circumstances had changed that performance idea had not. For a while, after the divorce, I wanted to live my own way. I guess I felt like I had been set free. Living with a controlling person is like having ropes tied around you and when they’re finally cut, you just want to fly as high as you can, enjoying the freedom of everything! But that living only last for a night. Eventually you hit a pole and get knocked back down to earth. Then you get up and knock the dirt off and say, “what the heck have I been doing.” “My life is a mess.” At least this was how it was for me.
So I picked my bruised body up and started back on the path that I had learned in my childhood. Except this time, I had to learn something new. This time I am learning about grace. The grace of God. God is not interested in my performance no more than my husband is interested in my performance. (I remarried in all that freedom flying) He just loves me unconditionally. No matter what I do or how I look. I don’t have to DO to get his attention.
I am happy for the rules I had to follow as a child. I wouldn’t trade my upbringing for anything. It has made me the person I am today. But, I am also thankful for God’s grace. That even when I was flying around ignoring him, he still loved me and was waiting for me to get enough and come home.
“Welcome home, my child!”