Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stumbling Heavenward

I don't know whether I'm relieved . . . or numb . . . or just quiet.  I'm glad it's over.  It had better be over.

There is just so much to process.  I want to do like I always told my kids about playground politics at school and "be a duck"--to just let it all slide off my back like a drop of water off a duck's feathers.  I want to . . . but it's hard.  The tape in my head keeps looping on the words they chose and threw at him--words that charged, tried and convicted . . . words without understanding . . . or grace.  I keep seeing my mind's video of the superior expressions, the smiles that felt cold, the judgmental, down-the-nose looks, the moments of thinly veiled aggression that felt so out of place, there of all places.

It felt like a room full of fences that divided us from each other.

I recall too that there were words of real understanding and reaching out from one who sounded genuine.  Finally a moment that felt like love. I try to hold on to the light of that moment.  I try to magnify that part of what was otherwise so, so difficult an encounter.

The youngest one in the room agreed to make it right . . . again . . . because they so desperately seemed to need it.  He didn't understand why they had kept such a record of wrongs.  He couldn't figure out why so many people had been talking about him to each other and not to him.  He was baffled by the assumptions they made about him, someone they barely knew.  How could something so small, so human, so unintended have grown to such outrageous proportions?

Where was the grace that belonged in that room?

The moment of truth came a day later, and he stood tall . . . so uncommonly tall, in a room swimming with eyes all fixed on his.  Mama Grizzly and Hero Husband sat together in the front row, there only for him.  He spoke his words, humble words, genuinely apologetic words that asked the swimming eyes to forgive.

I hope they did.  I believe they did.

He graciously accepted hugs and handshakes, smiles and odds-and-ends of thanks, support and advice. Some even expressed surprise that so much was being made of so little--they appreciated his willingness to come--more love light to magnify. He made his way slowly through them, briefly concealing his eagerness to head home and shake off almost two months of stress like dust off his feet.  He is more than ready to move forward in his walk with God and in using the gifts God has given him.

"Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example for the believers
in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."

When will God's people learn that every one of us is stumbling heavenward?

I can't stop thinking about a story my daddy tells about a guy watching a football practice where he observes the star of the team running drills.  The star was coming back from a devastating injury and he moved with an obvious limp.  The guy watching said to the coach, "Gee, he's limping pretty bad," to which the coach replied, "Yeah, but he's limpin' better!"

We can either pounce on missteps and chastise people for having a limp, knocking their good foot out from under them, or we can say, "Hey, you might be limpin', but you're limpin' better, and I understand, cause I'm limpin' better too. It's okay--God's not finished with me either."

My prayer is that we will do the latter and live lives of grace toward one another, recognizing that only God has access to the inside of a heart--He is the only One who can fix what's broken and what's not finished yet. I pray that we will give each other room to be where we are and to encourage one another on our way, and finally to pour love into the broken places between us because that is what Jesus did.  He actually WAS perfect and didn't have to put up with our brokenness, but love drove everything He did.  Oh that His imperfect but blood-bought brothers and sisters would overflow with HIS love to one another above all else.  This is why Jesus said,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

How do expectations impact your relationships with people?
How can we demonstrate love and grace to the people who stumble and bump into us?
Joining Emily Wierenga for Imperfect Prose


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