Grace is a circle. We are loved unconditionally because, as Sam Williamson* writes. No reason, just because. It's difficult to accept that. There are hidden mechanisms in place that make it feel wrong, boastful, “too big for my boots.” The easiest way is to remember loving my small children – whenever, whatever, because. If I can accept love, in every way it presents, not just the idea of God's love, but also every manifestation from kind words and acts, from sunlight and beauty, then it becomes cyclical. I accept willingly (and stop fighting, brushing off, ignoring it) and from that acceptance comes my desire to return what kindness I can to its source. The circle of grace.
I have always felt life was like an exam, which I was trying to pass – and the pass mark was set way over my head. All I could see was daily failures and if I counted my small successes, that turned into the bigger failure of pride. The whole bundle was tied with a big red ribbon marked SIN.
I like the idea that God loves us before we are good – because, and that if I accept that love, I may become good – the circle of grace. Become good sounds grandiloquent – I don't mean saintly, but that slowly living in the light of that love, my motives, my reason for existence may become clearer, cleaner, washed with a loving light, and my anxious, self-centred prickles may be made smooth.
It's a huge relief to admit that I fail, that I am only human – and accept that I am loved. I can see now how for so much of my life, I have flailed about, driven myself, despaired at failing; worse, I have bought the judgemental barricade – us and them. Judgement worn like a corset to keep me tightly within. I now feel open, relaxed, at peace – not good, but somehow truthful.
The drivenness has gone out of life, the desperate need to do life right, not fail. I finally understand that it is OK to start from here. I am not taking a test all day – no wonder that I counted my days by what I had done. Yet, each night, going over the day before sleep, all I counted was the interactions, the warmth, the love of life. No wonder I felt confused.
Am more and more seeing that I am you and you are me. Yet this doesn't lack boundaries – I feel well rooted. It's more being able to switch in a flash to see out of your eyes and back to mine. It brings compassion, humility and understanding. And as I understand you, I also understand myself. As I forgive, so am I forgiven. The circle of grace.
The old questions come back with a new twist: What am I doing? What is my purpose? What is my life? And a new answer: I am not living MY life, but God's. It was never about me, but always about God.
I remember my mother writing to me just before she died, “what will it be like – to lose self? And yet perhaps what a relief.” I replied, “I don't know, but I think whatever it is will be so beautiful you won't mind losing self.” Now I understand a little more: it is not about me, or being successful or right. It is simply about God.
For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
I Corinthians 13
*Is Sunday School Destroying Our Kids?: How Moralism Suffocates Grace [Kindle Edition] by
Samuel C. Williamson