Uncomfortable grace

Last week I went into Walmart to grab milk and eggs. We only needed milk and eggs. But listen, I have the hardest time not running through the clearance at Walmart. I’m a mess, I know.

And as I made my way to the clearance I went to the bedding section, and thought oh yeah we could totally use new sheets. (For real, we had one pair and we need a backup.)

Next thing I know I see a dear friend from church and her daughter. We smile and chat for a few minutes. My youngest is looking at all the pillows and stuffed animals by the sheets. My friend and I finish up chatting and my littlest and I head down the next aisle. I got sidetracked again and grabbed a really squishy pillow, then we went down the clearance aisle and ran into our friends again. She commented on how great the pillow was and she hoped I got to take a nap on it that day.

I was so grateful to see her and catch up. With COVID-19 it’s hard to see people and try to figure out what’s appropriate or not. We both felt joy seeing each other.

I finally grabbed what we needed and headed to check out. My friend and her daughter checked out in front of us and we said good bye one more time.

As I’m checking out I realized I left my wallet at home (darn purse change) and so I returned those few things to the worker and head out the door thinking I’ll go this afternoon and get milk and eggs. It was a sign, I didn’t need the sheets and pillow anyways.

We walked out front and our friends were waiting, and I thought oh wonder if they needed to tell me something. No, they just had a little blessing for our youngest.

I said, “Man, I forgot my wallet (because my cart was empty).”

She replied, “Oh, we are going back in and I’m gonna get that stuff for you.”

I said, “Oh, I can send you money through my phone!”

She replied, “Absolutely not.” She said she was blessed she got to see me that day and knew she was supposed to help.

I was embarrassed. Uncomfortable. She wanted to buy not just my milk and eggs, but my sheets and pillow! I sheepishly accepted.

They poured blessing on blessing to us that day.

And as I’m thinking on that story today my heart wells with gratitude. I want to owe her back. I want to do something in return. But maybe my only roll was to accept the blessing, the free gift, and be grateful.

I couldn’t help being reminded of the gospel.

Jesus sent us the most perfect gift, and sometimes it is flat out uncomfortable for me to accept I need it. But once we do, “God pours out His Spirit in our hearts with His love” (Romans 5:5) so we can live a life for Him. A life that is grateful. At the end of Luke 7 there’s a story about a sinful woman who comes in to see Jesus and she begins to weep at Jesus’ feet with gratitude and she wipes His feet clean with her hair! Then, Jesus replies, “Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many are forgiven–for she loved much. But He who is forgiven little, loves little. Luke 7:47”

His forgiveness of all her sins drew her in love, He wasn’t going to punish her, but forgive her completely. And she overflowed back to Him in gratitude.

I love that my friend showed me Jesus. Reminding me of my need, even if it’s uncomfortable.

How can we show God today we are grateful for His free gift of grace? Can we give it out?

Making connections

This season of life seems to be one of making connections.  Those ah-ha moments that put pieces of life back together where they were once all strewn across the floor for people to step on.

Last night, we were having small group and I was sitting and thinking about influence.  And I immediately had this rush-you know the feeling when you think you’ve done something completely wrong and there’s no way to go back to undo it-this time to my head where I was processing something that had happened.  A word ill spoken.

Shame.  The rush, the flushed face, the thing that says “there’s no way this can work out” or heal, it’s shame.  It keeps me in a place of anxiety and feeling unworthy.  A place that says things can’t change or I can’t change.

I realized it was shame, but didn’t know what to do with it.  So I was asking for prayer requests, realizing I was embarrassed to even share, but said you know I’m not perfect.

ah-ha. I’ve kept shame at bay by trying to be perfect.

Shame keeps us in a lot of unhealthy places.  Places of secrets, of fear of being known, accepted, loved.

But, when we step out we realize we are not alone, and we can share.  Last night, I said “I’m a ministers wife, but I’m not perfect.”  ah-ha.  I had put those two things together.  “If you are a ministers wife, i.e. you must be perfect.”  Kind of a hard gig to live up to.  But being real, being vulnerable, opening up even the yucky parts of myself to my friends and family has cleared up a lot of that shame.

Then it hit me, I could ask for forgiveness, share my heart, open up more, and allow an opportunity to be forgiven.  All was not lost.

I always thought Pharisees believed they were perfect.  But they didn’t.  They knew their secrets, their lies, their addictions, their pride.  They used their perceived perfection to hide their shame and guilt.

I’m reminded of the story of a woman who was thrown at the feet of Jesus naked, ashamed for been caught in the act of adultery.  The Pharisees wanted to catch Jesus and see what He would do with her.  So he began to write and Jesus asked “If one of you is without sin, throw the first stone.”  And they all left, see they knew they had sin, it would be blasphemy if they said they didn’t.  So, it was just Jesus and this woman, I can imagine the shame she’s feeling, and Jesus says, “Did even one condemn you?” “No,” she replied.  And Jesus says, “Neither do I.  Go and sin no more.”  (John 8:1-11)

Forgiveness with Jesus is simple.  It’s coming to Him in all our shame, and nakedness.  And leaving with Him saying I don’t condemn you either.  Jesus knew, the condemnation is what buries us and keeps us from coming back to Him.  Removing that shame then gives us the power to live.  Fully.  Oh sweet forgiveness.  Sometimes I feel I’m just now grasping more of it.

“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.  But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”  1 John 1:8-9

So what do you need forgiveness for, ask, and it will be given.  I love this verse because its a promise.  Thank you Lord.