In the quiet stillness God awaited me. It was there in a moment that could have easily been lost. Jesus invited me. Invited me to see a life of grace as one of endless invitations. That the reality of grace must first unseat each of the ways I now see myself. For all my weaknesses, strengths, joys, and sorrows need to step aside for this grace. That grace might come to define me, and lead all of me. A grace which comes tenderly to the traumas I didn’t know I had, and holds me softly in the darkness of my depression and despair. It was different than I had known, or experienced before.
Grace had long been in my life.
I was taught that I was forgiven by the grace of God.
That grace was kept away in the confines of God.
It was to be dispensed at the pleasure of God. That grace was a treasure to me as my faith became more important, and as the world around me failed me in my dark moments. There were many times in the depths of night where I cried out for help to God. I’ve spent nights broken, bitter, and barely hanging on walking through forests, cowering in neglected storage rooms, or sitting on the floor next to my bed.
Unlike others, I was able to survive my dark nights. Yet I could not ask to be forgiven for this. It was nothing I did because it was who I am. How could I ask to be forgiven for who I am? I was encircled. I knew normal people didn’t try to kill themselves, lose themselves to the darkness within themselves, or seem to need to try so hard to exist.
It was within these oscillations that I began to sit in quiet, clearing my mind. I started wondering what the despair within me was. What it could be. In these quiet moments I found myself meeting with the divine. Stumbling into a tradition older than the Church itself. Over years I came to cherish myself along with the despair which I feel deep within myself. Finally accepting that which is always weeping.
It was here I met grace again. Years past acceptance, in calm and quiet moments there was grace waiting humbly to the side of all I was. I began treating this grace like a part of me that I could choose to use or not. Grace was there but it was not the heart of me. Rather, like a switch I could flip for those who were worthy. This is how I was taught grace worked. For even God had rules for his grace, and I longed to be like Jesus.
In silent moments of contemplation I continued encountering God.
It was here that grace continued to invite me deeper into myself.
I started to sense that grace wanted to become the central definition of myself. Making sense of how this could work kept me from accepting this invitation. Yet my faith started to grow stale as I continued to refuse this calling of grace. Slowly in small ways did grace start take precedence over more of my life.
Day by day this grace shows me that it is more that enough. It has been enough for everyday that has passed by. It shall be enough for tomorrow. I struggle to put into words this reality. Grace has transformed within me. From being something given as needed, into an invitation that lets me hope. That with a world swirling around me the grace within never wavers. Grace continues to be tender with me unlike other ways I’ve identified myself that demanded control and power in my life.
This grace at the center of myself embraces and
cherishes my despair and slowly turns my internal longings.
It is this grace which hopes within me, and believes in me.
Out of hope and belief is where these invitations of grace arise. To those looking in it may seem like I am working to attain God’s favor, forgiveness, or love. To me I am wandering and treasuring with grace. To wander and dance with grace who leads me into a life where I just want to rest in silence. The more I accept the invitations grace extends the easier they are to accept in the future. So far I’ve been invited to loosen my grip on authority, on power, on need, on want, and on fairness. That God’s grace is better than all else.
Grace allows me to long simply for community with God. To rest in the presence of the divine. To rejoice together, and to grieve with one another. To be present with one another. In these times of meeting God in his grief I have learned much about justice and hope. Seeing first hand how true grace invites us to action for the weak and against powerful people. I know that most of these powerful people will never see me, or hear my voice calling them to the way of the cross. I know that violence often meets those who call for justice. Yet here I am following the invitation of grace forward.
I expect this road before me will be long. That there is much before me, and untold invitations I cannot yet see or grasp. Yet with my brokenness I will continue to do my best to accept. To do that which grace asks. To that which grace invited me to. To let grace be my source of hope as longing, pain, and harm awaits me. May each of us find the grace of God within us, and let us be led by it.
May we, like Christ, embrace those who betray us, grieve when ministers lay a heavy burden upon others, proclaim hope in the desert, and understand how to follow the way of Jesus already beneath our feet.