I sometimes moan that God (who I do believe in) is not giving me what I want, dare I say it, what I need. Bluntly put, I sometimes think he is not giving me enough. I question whether or not He loves me. I live in a sense of rejection, of less than, of pain. What about being happy? Don’t I get to be happy? Don’t we get to be happy? Certainly a God of grace would want that for us. I am coming to realize that God does want that. God longs to draw us into His presence so that we might be filled up with perfect, redemptive love. It seems that to experience this I need to say “yes” to all that He freely gives and choose to live my life full of Him.
I recognize that this may be easier said than done.
In an effort to do this I began to pay attention to things that often wash over me; things I take for granted; things that I don’t always think of as special and maybe a few that I do. As my list grew longer I began to see how this might be a first step toward believing that a life full of the knowledge of grace might be possible.
- The warmth of the sunlight through a window, falling on my shoulders as I write.
- A sound of a child playing the piano with one finger.
- Mail that isn’t bills.
- The smell of beeswax candles.
- Wind in my hair.
- A freshly painted room.
- Catching a streetcar before it rolls away.
- Colourful graffiti that catches my eye in a lane-way.
- A record spinning on a turntable.
- Seeing my mom in her wheelchair instead of her bed.
- The forgiveness of a friend.
- Having someone see me in my brokenness and loving me anyway.
- A new pencil.
- The click a camera makes when I take a picture.
- The smell of BBQ.
- Spring in the air.
- Suds in a bath.
- The gurgle of coffee perking on the stove.
- A touch.
This list has helped me to see that these 20 things are very real gifts from God, and in the action of writing them down I am actually receiving them as such. The list is my attempt to seek joy and to find God in the process. I believe we are invited to let God change us- maybe not our circumstances, but how we manage them. God can change your state of mind and how you perceive His good gifts. God makes it possible to live a life FULL of grace.
“Grace” has a number of different meanings: it is seemingly effortless beauty or charm or movement (she moves with such grace); it is a short prayer before a meal; it is mercy; it is favour rendered by one who need not do so; it is indulgent. God’s grace is just that: indulgent. On the surface of our lives, it might not feel that this is true. We live in a world marred by debt and despair and death. Imagine though being able to cultivate gratitude DESPITE this. A man named Paul wrote about this in the book of Philippians 4:11-12, “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or with little.”
Judy Collins (yes, the singer) wrote a book about what she calls the 7 T’s: Truth, Trust, Therapy, Treasure, Thrive, Treat, and Transcend. Judy decided to write about these T’s after her son committed suicide and she began a journey of grief and mourning. While this is not the context of each of our lives, we can relate because of our own experiences of pain, sadness, addiction and remorse.
If the challenge for us is to choose to live a life of joy, abundance, forgiveness and grace, than the 7 T’s provide a framework to do this.
Truth: Tell it. Tell it like it is, even if it is painful. Don’t ignore those wounded places in your life.
Trust: Allow it. Don’t allow the pain to prevent you from talking. Talk with friends. Talk with your community.
Therapy: Get it. Seek help.
Treasure: Hold on. Find things that you treasure. Remember those things that are good in your life- however big or small you perceive these things to be.
Thrive: Look up. Keep living with your eyes wide open. Try to not blunt or blur your sadness with unhealthy things.
Treat: Nurture yourself. Discover the things that fill up your soul.
Transcend: Choose to live a certain kind of life- a life of gratitude- a life of grace.
When I chose to make Jesus central to all that I do, life began to look different. Mother Teresa once said “The work we do is only our love for Jesus in action. If we pray the work…if we do it to Jesus, if we do it for Jesus, if we do it with Jesus…that’s what makes us content”. When I am blue or frustrated or angry or…whatever…I now try to pause, think about Jesus and consider what I am grateful for.
Joy will come from the touching of Christ. I am confident that God is healing the places in my heart that are deep holes. And in those deep places is a new sense of gratitude.