Grace: Sometimes you have to scrape the bottom to find it, but it’s always there.
It’s 5:37 p.m. and I have no idea what I’m going to make for dinner. There’s another email in my inbox requesting volunteers for the Book Fair, Bake Sale and a teacher luncheon. The dog just got into the trash can and my pantry is now covered in shredded napkins and remnants of last night’s dinner. What’s that weird smell? Gross, I left the laundry in the washing machine- again. Looks like the clothes will have to be washed for the third time in two days. Why is the carpet all wet? Oh yay, my husband left wet towels on the floor once again. Still don’t know what to make for dinner. Do we even have anything in the fridge? I didn’t have time to hit the grocery store this week between work, field trips and everything else on my To Do List.
I’m pretty sure I’m about 2.7 seconds from completely losing my mind and bursting into tears. Needless to say, the last thing I want at this moment is the tiny voice beside me that is about to send me to DefCon 1… “Mom, I forgot my backpack at school and it had all my homework in it.”
A seemingly minor infraction for a 9 year old. I just need a bit of perspective here. What kid doesn’t forget a backpack every now and again, right? But at this moment in time, perspective is nowhere to be found and I’m fresh out of grace. I’m done, tapped out and on “E.” Things are about to get ugly.
Luckily, I have enough self-control to excuse myself before I say something I’m going to regret and I sneak off to the bathroom for a moment to collect myself. And the praying begins…
“Please Lord, let no one bother me for the next 3 minutes I don’t know if I can be held responsible for my reaction if anyone knocks on this bathroom door. Truth be told Lord, I am all out of patience, kindness and grace. Heads are going to roll.”
The thing I think I love the most about my relationship with God is that He knows me- really knows me. This should probably worry me, but I find comfort in it. Because God knows me, He knows exactly how to handle me. So as I warn Him that I unable to go handle the situation as a good Christian mommy should, I hear His voice clear as a bell. “Really? You’re all done, huh? No more grace? Did I run out of grace all the times you needed it in recent days?”
It didn’t take long to recall some of the situations to which He was referring. I yelled at my kids over shoes and backpacks and responsibilities and blah blah, blah. I rolled my eyes at my husband and may have produced a few hand gestures as he left the room after he announced he had to work all weekend. I blew off my mom when she suggested I get more sleep. Really, Mom? Are you hiding an extra 4 hours per day? If not, don’t talk to me about getting more sleep. We didn’t go to church last Sunday because I was too lazy to get out of my pajamas. I’ve served Chicken Dinos twice this week because I can’t seem to find the time to plan our menu and get the shopping done even though it was my commitment to my family. And tonight I will be folding two loads of laundry. Just so you know, it’s laundry that I had to wash three times because I couldn’t seem to remember to transfer it to the dryer before the smell of we clothes permeated the room.
So I wouldn’t say I’m holding it all together. I have lacked patience since I learned to speak and having children has done nothing to help me get a handle on it. I tend to over-schedule and over-commit myself, often to the detriment of my own sanity. And I don’t even want to talk about that eye-rolling-hand-gesture-snarky-attitude problem that is a continual work in progress.
It’s actually a wonder that God hasn’t thrown His hands up and tossed in the towel on me. Some would say I’m a lost cause.
But not my God.
In spite of, well, me, He continues to grant me grace- unlimited grace. He does it knowing it’s quite likely I’ll skip church again this week because my husband will be at work and I’m too fried to rally the troops. He grants grace though he knows I will lose my patience yet again and yell at my kids for leaving their stuff around the house.
But grace is not given when the odds are in your favor.
Grace is not given for a job well-done.
Grace is given so we can have the opportunity to begin again with a clean slate.
Grace is given because mercy is WHO GOD IS. He is filled with grace.
So how, then, should I respond? The endless pouring IN of God’s grace should then result in an endless pouring OUT of it as well. God’s well of grace never runs dry. It is a pool in which I should steep, soaking up every ounce so that I can than pour it into those around me- whether if it’s for the first time or the 70th. My children, my husband, my friends, even strangers are going to frustrate me and drive me to my breaking point- that’s just life this side of heaven. But God has shown me that even though I may think “I’m done” the truth is, I’m not and neither is He. Grace has been gifted to me. Therefore, I must gift it to others.
And so I will tell my husband that I’m sorry he has such a hectic schedule and I’ll be sure to write him a note of encouragement and slip it in his briefcase, rather than giving him the silent treatment. I’ll roll my eyes at the dog but clean up his mess instead of banishing him to the yard because that’s just part of being a pet owner. I’ll serve Chicken Dinos, yet again, because that’s all we have in the freezer, but I won’t beat myself up over it won’t worry I’m a terrible mother. The truth is, sometimes getting food on the table is as good as it gets and no one ever died of excessive chicken Dino intake.
That’s grace given- to myself and the people in my life. The same grace my God gives me every time I fail to meet expectation and need a do-over.
Vicky Willenberg is a wife and mom in Southern California. When she isn’t folding laundry, doing dishes or running around with her two boys, she is working as a Social Media Manger for a small recruiting firm. You can also find her on her blog The Pursuit of Normal (www.thepursuitofnormal.blogspot.com)