As I made the switch from Blogger I realized I needed something to call my blog other than 5 Hearts, One Family. Eventually I want to own my own website and 5Hearts just won’t fit if our family happens to grow to 6Hearts or 7Hearts.
So I pondered.
I did some free writing.
Then I did some thinking.
I discovered that grace has been a huge theme throughout my entire life. And from the looks of things, I’m going to be challenged in this area for years to come. I’m thinking of Marie as I type those words. She requires an extraordinary amount of grace from me. A grace I don’t hand out easily. A grace I’m not sure I’m all to familiar with in the first place.
My parents were good, Christian parents. They taught me right from wrong and loved me as much as any of us love our kids. My dad always worked hard to provide and my mom worked when it was needed, although she spent the majority of my life as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. I wasn’t an easy child to raise up and I’m receiving my “payback” in the form of my own kids. I was stubborn and thought rules simply didn’t apply to me. Because of this attitude, I made some bad choices that had huge consequences. My parents loved me and showed me grace through those hard times. I’m not sure I could have made it otherwise. However, I didn’t always see grace as their initial reaction to my life’s choices. I saw anger, sadness and in one case, a deep resentment – all directed towards me. The wayward child. Also being the firstborn, I’m sure my parents felt overwhelmed with the complexities of what I was doing with my life.
As a teenager in the church, grace was talked about a lot. However it was extended slightly less. During waves of rebellion I heard, “Just stop doing the bad stuff.” and “Just do the right stuff.” I took that advice to heart and made up mind to “just do it.” But then when push came to shove, I apparently had no back bone. Then I heard the lectures all over again. Nobody seemed able to understand the war inside my heart. Heck, I didn’t even understand! I know now that my heart was aching for something more than what I was getting.
I met my husband when I was 22 (I think). God gave him eyes to see my heart. Mr. Sexy has told me many times that had he not been able to see my heart so clearly in the beginning, our marriage may not be quite as whole as it is today – if you catch my drift. Our marriage and our family life has been an ultimate challenge. I have had (and continue to work through) intense struggles with Marie. My heart was angry and bitter and Marie quickly became my scapegoat. I have theories as to why this is. Marie, at her core, is the opposite of anger and bitterness. In the war of light and darkness, there can only be one victor. For a long time the darkness in my heart was shading over any light in our family. (Now, I am about say some really wonderful things about Mr. Sexy. But first, know that he, like me, has not been the perfect spouse. We have had encounters with each other where I wasn’t sure where we were both going to bed that night.) That said, Mr. Sexy has shown an abundance of grace and love towards me in the midst of our turmoil. It has been confusing to me and hard to accept. Some watching from the outside have wondered why he didn’t leave me. All I can say is this:
Sometimes you need more than love to make marriage work. Grace plays a huge role and that kind of grace can only come from God.
I have received grace, and then other times not as much. But giving it back? Offering it to the undeserving? Showing it even when I’m hurting?
That seems to be my life’s legacy that I am continuing to work on.
As cliche as this will sound: God gave me the ultimate grace every time. It was always his first reaction to my mess-ups. Whether I felt it or not, he was offering the ultimate gift to an undeserving soul. I cannot live life and not offer the same thing to the people around me. But do I? Do I really offer grace first? NOPE. Just ask my family: my parents, my brothers, my husband. I still carry stubborn tendencies from childhood. On top of that I am incredibly passionate (or so I’ve heard from Mr. Sexy). So when I feel wronged, my first instinct is to lash out and withhold that grace I was just talking about. I’ll hang on to it for years if I feel like it. My life, the legacy I am leaving behind, is far from over. I have so much more to learn and hopefully many years to become better.
Grace is starting first in my heart towards myself. Only then can I truly extend it to others.
The concept of grace is what my life seems to be about. Accepting it from others. Offering it when it’s painful or when I flat out don’t feel like it. Because none of this is truly about me. It’s about the grace that comes from God regardless of how much charity work or I do or how many times I refrain from bad words – which isn’t all that often but my life isn’t over yet. For me, Jessica’s Grace holds more meaning than I can possibly share in just one post or in just one day. The concept is loaded with all kinds of emotions. That’s what this writing stuff is all about for me.
I’m learning to accept grace.
I’m learning to give grace.