Happens to be on of my very least favorite sayings in Christianity. I remember the first time I heard it and who said it. I know it bristled me then and now, well. I just don’t, yeah, no. Twenty-five years of reflecting and I finally know why.
Grace: mercy, clemency, pardon, forgiveness, charity, mercy, favor, goodwill…
As this phrase once again bubbled up to the surface the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) came to mind. And people, so many people I’ve had the privilege to meet who have been in some really rough circumstances and by rough I mean homeless, mentally ill, very sick and the list goes on. Then there are the rough circumstances that are not always obvious: horrific home lives, abuse, poverty, unemployment. I’d have to say this includes mean people, judgmental people, snotty people, b*tchy people. Shocking I know but it does. To say that any one of them stood outside of the grace of God for whatever the reasoning has never made any sense to me. Or more to the point I must be experiencing Gods Grace in such a deep an holy way as to NOT be going through THAT circumstance.
Is there some evidential criteria for determining that God’s Grace is not present in someone’s life? What might that be? How did this criteria come to exist? Is it wealth? Is it health? Is it mental health? Is it???? All of this begs the questions, “Who would God really withhold his Grace from?” “Is there any one person of his creation that would truly be exempt?” “If anyone one of His children cried out to Him, would God refuse?” Mmmm, no.
I am more likely to withhold Grace from others. I am more likely to withhold forgiveness or mercy. Because when I am hurt or frustrated or in pain I am more likely to experience some need to bring others down with me. Because (I do like this one) misery loves company. I mean who doesn’t like a good wallow in the mud or better yet throw it on someone else because I’m unhappy. It’s not kind or loving or charitable, but it happens. And I’ll tell ya when I realize what a b*tchy snot I’m being well, uh I know deep down that I Have to deal with it.
Presuming the best in people is hard, being forgiving and merciful and kind is hard. It’s only with practice that we get better at presuming the best. It’s only with practice do we see the gift of God’s grace in the lives of others no matter what the circumstances of their life. God will always offer his Grace.
The difficult or desperate circumstances any of us find ourselves in have little to do with a lack or abundance of God’s Grace, rather they offer an opportunity to enter more deeply into God’s grace, into His Mercy. Folks who are in difficult or desperate circumstances may be deeply experiencing that Grace, we don’t know. I can’t say that they are outside of God’s Grace. It is only for me to walk with anyone as I’m allowed. To be a friend, to pray with and for, to be kind and caring.
I can see so many quilting correlations but the clearest is it’s important to be kind and caring and loving and teachers and listeners. It’s important to help, especially if helping means to step back and allow new quilters to learn the hard way. It’s important to be watchful and give quilters enough freedom to grow. For me as a teacher it’s important to be there, be present and let the quilters do their work, whatever that looks like. Because it’s their journey, it’s filled with Grace, it’s filled with Joy and I have the privilege of being there with, along side, being a friend.