Now that we are well into the back-to-school thing, I thought it would be a good time to teach a lesson in grace. That made me sound intentional and organized, but the reality is that I lost my crap the other morning before school and almost made my kids cry before exiting my van. I pulled my car over twice on the way to school that morning. It was a disaster and I’m afraid most of it was my fault! However, grace is grace. Mercy is mercy. The Lord (oh my soul) gave me more than I deserved on that fateful Monday when I took crap and turned it into candy. I’ll explain.
Grace is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification. This Sunday at church, the focus of the readings and gospel was gratitude and grace. As I listened to the priest speak about different ways Jesus shows God's grace, it made me think of that morning with my kids. How upset I got and how inevitably I forgave them (and myself), and showed them great grace. Grace is undeserved, unmerited, and unearned favor.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
This brings me back to the other morning before school. The kids had made a huge mess in their room. I’m talking apocalypse-level mess. Strewn about were undressed dolls and a graveyard of broken McDonald’s toys and Barbie heads mixed with shoes and such. My chest tightened as I contemplated how long it would take me to clean. Then I had a thought. An angered and mean thought. “F this! I’m not doing it! These girls made this mess and they’ll clean it up.”
I spent a good five minutes throwing a temper tantrum in their room as they got dressed. Pushing all the mess into the center of the room and explaining how this would be their responsibility to clean up when they got home. Pretty sure I made one of them cry. Not my proudest moment. I repeated this performance *takes a bow* on the ride to school as well. You’ll recall I even pulled the car over...twice.
Then I got home and I was upset about it all. I was very general in my prayer to God that morning but I’ll sum it up as a big WTF to the Lord. Then my soul lit up just like a light bulb! The other day I was trying to explain grace to my girls. Their sister's name is Grace and I was describing to them in my best way what the actual word grace means not just the name we gave their sister. It wasn’t a very good explanation, I’ll admit. It wasn’t something I thought they could understand. Fast forward to this disaster of a morning. And BOOM! What a perfect lesson on grace. So what did I do? I cleaned their room. I picked up each toy and I put away each out of place thing. Just like that I had forgiven the wrongdoing and helped them. Knowing full well they would mess it up again.
I was so anxious for them to see when we got home. As they went to hang up their backpacks I could overhear them whispering in the room “Mommy must have cleaned it while we were at school.” On that note,I strolled in. I explained to them that they did the wrong thing when they left such a big mess in the room. I went on to say (in very 1st and 2nd grade vernacular), that sometimes we mess up and we have to deal with the consequences of our actions, which can vary from situation to situation. I also told them that no matter what you do, God (and Mommy) always loves you and forgives you because of that love.
Cleaning that room was my way of showing them grace. We call it being given a “grace card”. I gave them “divine assistance” when they knew they had done the wrong thing. In the process of giving grace, I was also taught. Because let’s not forget that I took out my anger on those kids. I was so upset about the room being dirty that I yelled at my children for something that “kids do” and I made them upset. I made myself look and feel like an ass.
Bottom line is, we all screw up. We are all sinners. There isn’t an easy way out. Sometimes we make a mess and we have to clean it up, but there is always grace and mercy. We just have to be willing to see it in the interim. Be willing to accept that we messed up and our Heavenly Father will help us.
We must seek an attitude of gratitude in every part of our life. Spend time being thankful. Thankful not just for the great things that God gives us, but thankful too for the lessons we learn in our moments of weakness when we are less likely to lean into God. He sees you. He knows your sin before you do and He loves us anyway. Just like the love we have for our own children. He picks up the broken pieces and makes them right.
Reality Changing Observations:
Q1. When was the last time you thanked God for a messy situation that taught you?
Q2. In life we sometimes get caught up and let feelings like anger take over. How might we change the narrative in that moment to emulate grace and mercy?
Q3. What can you start doing today to express gratitude for every moment in your life, good and bad?