The Perfect Storm of Grace
My husband sits next to me comfortably on our front patio. The monitor broadcasts every sigh from our two babies sleeping. Under the twinkling stars at twilight we explore honestly, “What is grace, truly?”
So much has gone on in the past three years: a distressing move, two pregnancies and two home remodels. But the greatest stressors come from our daughter’s feeding issues and the incessant doctor visits.
I misinterpret her lack of interest in eating as a rejection of my motherhood. The doctors couldn’t tell me why she wouldn’t eat. My frustration increases with the unfairness as my pride shouts, “Tell me what’s wrong with her so that I can fix her.” A rage-filled anger surfaces I thought a year of Christian counseling had repaired.
I was floating in the middle of the ocean on a dingy surrounded by the perfect storm of uncertainty, injustice, and rejection the effects of which produce in me a standard response of anger.
I strive to believe God’s promise that He is with me in the storm. The normative response from people is to respond to my behavior severely. I brace myself for the colossal wave of abandonment I anticipate will overtake and drown me. I’m used to being rejected and cast out. I never imagine there could be a different response from my husband––GRACE.
In the midst of my trial I’m pained to fend off acquaintances speaking the familiar, condemning words, “You’re ruining your family.” I’m struggling dreadfully to extend grace to those removing their love from me until I fix myself. I’m judged, labeled and cast aside based on my behavior.
My anger spills over in to my motherhood. Eventually, I fast and cry out to God for help, “I cannot continue one more day hurting my children or my husband. Jesus save me!” God answers my prayer in many tangible ways but most effectively through my husband.
In reading Dr. Kimmel’s book Grace-Filled Marriage I’ve come to recognize the many ways my husband delivered God’s grace to me*:
- My husband was empathetic and understanding when all I could muster was anger.
- My husband believes in what I will become instead of judging me on how I was behaving.
- When I felt rotten to the core with shame my husband valued me.
- At my lowest, he regularly pointed me toward His Highest.
- My husband continually clothed himself with compassion, kindness and forgiveness when I deserved punishment.
- My husband set aside my crimes in lieu of his greater love for me.
By his secure love I was filled with a strong hope and willingness to pursue wellness and fulfill my purpose as a wife and mommy as God intended. Over the next year, my husband held me tightly as God provided the shovel to finally pull the strongly held weed of anger out of the soil of my heart.
On that special evening under the twinkling stars, our conversation contends with the tensions of grace and truth within the context of parenting and marriage. As followers of Jesus, we often think of grace and truth pulling against each other as you might observe in a classic game of tug of war. Only that game ends with a winner and a loser but no unity. Instead God uses grace as the medium from which His truth is delicately spoken and willingly received. It is at Calvary where this illustration becomes real.
Truth without grace feels like salt rubbed in to an open wound.
The lack of grace in my childhood imbedded in me a predictable response of anger. I heard the words “You are rotten.” In my husband’s grace-based home, he heard the words “You are valued and loved. Your behavior is rotten.”
Our evening under the stars brought a revitalized awareness of God’s goodness: the value of a person is not measured by behavior. By the grace of God, our value is measured on what Jesus did for us. By our faith in Jesus, God sees you and me as blameless even in the midst of colossal behavioral blunders.
God’s secure love provides the strong hope fueling our willingness to seek alignment with His truths so that our purpose as a member of His Kingdom will manifest itself to the fullest measure.
These truths are brilliantly detailed in Dr. Tim Kimmel’s new book, Grace-Filled Marriage. You will be blessed and your marriage transformed in reading it.
*Kimmel, Dr. Tim. Grace Filled Marriage – Divine Math, pages 35-36.
Written by Edy Sutherland
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