Who loves a compliment? WHO?! Me. You. ALL THE WORLD. We’ll get to that soon enough.
This post is a windy, wandering, wisp of what I’d actually like to say but can’t articulate because my innards, where all my feels live, were blown away and took most of my words in the aftermath when a friend offered his surprising perception, in the form of a compliment, of my effect on this world. While I’ve talked about your unintentional imprint before, this goes a bit deeper.
It all started months before, as I contemplated what it is I do all day long (um, write, and research while stalking Facebook/tumblr/stumbleupon/pinterest/google+/twitter/the vast internets) and if what I do matters, in the sense that the world is hurting and shouldn’t I do something about it instead of sitting here figuratively undressed pounding on my keyboard day after day?
There is so much hurt in this world that when I think of it, when I offer my humble pleading prayers for it, I am overwhelmed. Most of us have a deep wound, a still painful scar that we mindfully run our figurative fingers over when matters of suffering arise in conversation or story. It’s part of the inescapable human condition: torment and misery. You and I are the same that way: the injury of pain has marked us forever.
On the other side of that pain is the grace to endure, defying the desire to surrender. I have been redeemed many times with an abundance of undeniable grace in my life. One of my most enduring pleadings to God is: please let there be grace.
I have always thought of grace as God’s holy hand on my life, enabling me to withstand any harm that may come, to endure despite extreme hardship of mind and body when my instinct is to cower and collapse, and to rebuild when necessary. Grace is an abundance of strength that comes from without to fill me within, the determination to persevere when my grip tires, the taproot of my faith in the face of my disbelief.
Much of my definitions of grace are shared by many, yet here is one I never considered until after my friend’s remarks:
“Grace is the empowering Presence of God enabling you to be who He created you to be, and to do what He has called you to do.”
Give it a minute to sink into your bones. You are enabled (by grace) to be who He created you to be. You are enabled (by grace) to do what He has called you to do. This may require a quiet spot, copious deep breaths and some liquid courage to fully embrace. With grace, I already have what I need to do the things I feel led to do?! Revolutionary.
To be who He created you (me) to be, to do what He has called you (me) to do has been my life long struggle.
I write silliness. I have the humor-leanings of a 12-year-old boy. I will laugh every. stinkin’. time. at funny bodily function noises (and they’re pretty much all funny). I feel led to help this world with a smile or belly laugh. If I can ease your steps with a twinkling of light, even if for a slight moment, I am filled.
Juxtaposed to the silliness is my need to write of our moments of anguish, fear and anxiety. People need to know they aren’t alone, that what they have felt, lived, or grieved is similar to others. Many feel alone and isolated in their desperation and can’t imagine that others could relate, when in fact, most of us would gladly share our carefully hidden darkness if it would mean that anyone’s suffering would be lessened.
To be who I was created to be, to do what I was called to do, is a daily lesson of allowing each experience that presents itself to wash over me, filling what needs to be filled, then taking what knowledge I’ve gained and putting it into words, for good or bad, in hopes that someone may see themselves in my silliness or torment and realize they aren’t alone.
It’s a bit like standing in front of the class in my underwear anew each day. My underwears! You see them!
My path has been one of frustration, uncertainty, embarrassment, joy, wonder, laughter, tears, and a clear understanding that I have no idea if any of this expression of soul matters. Yet, forward I go.
Grace, my babies. Through God’s empowering grace I embrace who He created me to be, I trust what He has called me to do, even when I don’t think I’m worthy or that someone else could do it better. Yet, still I was called for this task. Write all the things. Get it down. Share. I know some will not abide the truth of my words, some will mock them, and some will vocally disagree. Doesn’t matter. It’s what I was made for and I’ve known it my entire adult life.
Nobody puts Baby in a corner!
Hey, remember that compliment I talked about in the beginning of this post. Let’s get to that.
I humbly, and a bit reluctantly, share this personal story that puts skin on grace:
A friend was in the process of saying goodbye to his only child, to his son who had decided to serve in the Marines. I offered my support and encouragement in a note to him as a mom to an only. I had already been through this stage of letting go, although not to the Marines…~gulp~…, so I wanted him to know he wasn’t alone in whatever he was feeling.
His partial response: When I…read what you have to say, it makes me better…you make a difference in people’s lives and you may not even know.
It’s a rare moment when I’m speechless…fine, it’s a rare moment when my words are lessened…and this was one of them. As is my nature, I tried to make light of his statement; I tried to goof it off in a way that would disregard what he was saying to me. The thing is, he wouldn’t allow my deflection, even to the point of telling me it wasn’t a joke, that he meant what he said.
Ain’t nothing prepares you for that, baby. He was demanding that I see and wouldn’t let me look away. So I looked.
What I realized (it took me a few days to digest what had transpired) is that when we live as we were created to, to do the things we were meant to do, even when we can’t see the point, or we question the wisdom of our shaky convictions, but follow in spite of them, grace moves from us to others in remarkable, humbling, indelible moments. Even I’m not foolish enough to reject such a rare gift of this insight; I hope you aren’t either.
In my friend’s pain, he was able to lift my life. Today, still, I am overwhelmed with his kindness by offering me such a profound moment of grace.
In the days and months that have followed, I have determined to offer unexpected kindness every chance I’m able. Whether or not it has the effect that my friend’s words had is of no consequence to me; I want to offer, that’s all. I have determined to offer tenderness instead of a sharp word (Unless what you really need is a sharp word. Discernment is a wonderful thang, y’all!). I have determined to be the Mother Teresa of my small world: “I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.” Indeed. As I go about this mission, I pray that grace may follow.
Please let there be grace.
With all these words written, I want to say something to all of you and I don’t want you to look away. Like my friend, I want you to see.
You make me smile and think each day that I’m here with you. You’re important to me. You have driven me to tears of happiness and sadness with your stories and your offerings of love through your comments and shares. You have unexpectedly filled me as you confide that what I’ve written has touched you in some small way. (Want a writer to follow you to the ends of the earth? Tell them their string of words matter to you.) You have offered your lives, your hearts and what drives you, and I have taken your generous gestures to mean we’re now friends. That’s how I see you, my babies. You are my dear friends whom I love.
When I started this site my intent was to offer you something meaningful for your lives, something based in experience and offered freely for your use, but the opposite has happened: you’ve offered me meaning, wisdom and grace each time I show up. You are spectacular!
DON’T LOOK AWAY! I’m not joking. You. Are. A. Wonder. To. Me.
Take that check to your love bank today and cash it.
I pray that you may each experience a profound moment of grace in your life and that you may, in turn, brazenly offer them in the form of a simple, true, sincere compliment of another.
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” ~Mother Teresa