Friday, May 02, 2008

Amazing Grace

Three years ago I was struggling with loving my husband, and my mother in law invited me over because she had a gift for me. It was the book by Phillip Yancey, What’s So Amazing about Grace? At the time, it felt like a slap in the face. I didn’t crack it open once. I couldn’t understand why she’d kick a girl when she was down. Sure, I was acting like a twerp, but didn’t she see why I had to?

This was not the first time I had been unloving. I can’t count how many times I’ve failed in this area. (God can, but I can’t.) I have not been the most understanding wife. There is just no way I will be winning a “Most Gracious Wife” award anytime soon. I had been convicted about this, but I just didn’t know how to change.

Last week, we went through a marital hiccup. You Nosy Noras out there might as well click on some other blog, because I’m not going to discuss the details here. All you really have to know is that I felt hurt. I felt scared. I wanted to run for the hills. I wanted to scream and throw a fit and never allow him a single second of mercy. I wanted him to know how I felt and to never forget it.

And yeah, maybe it would have felt good. And maybe I would have felt appeased for a second. I doubt it, but typically when I feel like I’ve been wronged, I do turn into a tyrannical circus act, complete with juggling clowns and little puppies riding unicycles in tu-tus.

Can you see now why my mother in law would have bought me that book? I truly am soooo blessed to have her.

So when this little hiccup happened, my instinct was to get my pointing finger all warmed up and to get my high horse out of storage and prepare for some serious judging. But what good has that ever done us? Honestly, all it’s done is keep me from seeing my own log and made my husband regret the day he married me.

I decided instead to finally crack open that book and see if there was anything in there I needed to hear. Boy Howdy! What an amazing book! Did I really just let this sit on a shelf for 3 years?! I realized that I can’t truly say that I understand grace just because I’ve benefited from it. I realized that putting my hubby in a corner, separating him from my affection, making him wear a dunce cap wasn’t really helping me prove that I love him unconditionally. I realized that if I was ever going to be trusted by him, as someone who genuinely cares about him, that I was going to have to show him grace.

My emotions promptly rejected the idea. They kept screaming stuff at me like, “But if you don’t make him suffer, he’ll just do it again,” and “Why should you make the first move and extend grace? He hasn’t apologized yet, and he’d never do the same for you!” and “He won’t think it’s as big a deal as it actually is if you let him off the hook like this.” But you know, guys, I have no business putting my husband on a hook! I am not his judge. I didn’t sign up for that role, I don’t want that role, I have no authority over him like that, and for me to believe that I do is sick and twisted! So there.

I felt convinced that I had to show him grace no matter what. No matter how unnatural it felt. No matter how unfair and unbalanced. My feelings are so perverse and fickle; I can’t rely on them to guide me. So I asked God to help me show grace the way that He had shown me grace when I certainly didn’t deserve it.

And you’ll never believe what happened next. (Well, those of you who have obeyed God when it didn’t feel right will probably be able to guess what happened.) Grace has been MUCH more effective than my screaming fits ever were. Seriously. We’re communicating more. He’s playing with the kids more. It’s been astonishing to watch. If you’d ever asked, you’d never have caught me saying for a second that my way is better than God’s. I wouldn’t have admitted it because I wouldn’t think it possible that I’d actually believe it. But I guess I had believed it because I kept rejecting this idea of grace in favor of my lashing out with hate.

Now it’s not been easy. Even after I started seeing the benefits outweighing the risks, I still wanted to ignore him and just not be near him. It has taken a great deal of effort to ignore my stupid urges and submit to the will of God. But I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where we are to extend grace only when it’s easy and the person deserves it. And THANK GOD FOR THAT! Or else I would never have the relationship I have now with God.

So for those of you who might be like me, try grace. You’ll like it. God knows what He’s talking about. As if there was ever any doubt. :)

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