I sat on the couch with sweet, rare friends, and one prayed words that I couldn’t understand. They were meant to bless me, and I cried in unbelief. I am none of those things she called me, struggling in the tension of the already but not yet. I believed her, Holley, in theory, but I’ve only just begun to read and embrace anything that remotely refers to my being “[…] Already Amazing.”
The next day I yelled horribly at my children, and then the day after that I watched my son exhibit such control-freak behavior that it nearly paralyzed me and him both. Often if he messes up, he can’t seem to get over it. He cries and begs forgiveness over and over again and then falls apart in utter disappointment when he doesn’t come through with his imagined “right way” to be. I know he learned this from me, this lack of understanding about grace.
So I wake after such a string of failure that I call a sitter and drive to my favorite coffee shop. I’ve planned to mope about how I’m going to completely ruin my children. As I arrive, I have the beautiful idea to take breakfast to a favorite friend, who’s very recently adopted. I reach for my wallet, realize I’ve forgotten it at home, and just as I’m backing out of the parking lot, my friend Heather walks out with a paper bag.
She stops me and says she’s actually on her way to take breakfast to our friend’s house, the same friend I want to go see. After inviting me to come along, she buys my coffee, and it doesn’t feel like a coincidence at all.
Our girlfriend’s home is the loud of joy and the ache of growth, the heightened sense of brand new and unknowing and beautiful. Her newest daughter is receiving therapy in the bedroom, and I swell with emotion while looking at the fanciest little kid wheelchair, how dumbfounded I find myself at my friends’ contagious love for children with special needs or not. I want it, and actually, it’s already working in me, how wonderful her daughter is, like all God’s children.
God has poured grace in that home, and I hear her raised voice in the other room. I fumble things and watch two girlfriends in the thick back-and-forth of ones who have loved each other into the deepest darkest waters. After a while, things settle. The coffee is half-full.
They ask me how things are, and I cry and say I’m not good enough, that I don’t know how to parent with grace, don’t know what it means. I need someone to tell me what to do.
And there is no good answer. Every time I try to scrounge for one, my girlfriend looks at me pointedly and says, “No! You’re missing it! There’s nothing you can DO.”
Oh and all my outlines on works-based righteousness come flooding back, how it is all and only Jesus.
Then she tells me a secret story of how deeply she loves her daughter, regardless of anything she does or doesn’t do. Will she walk? Let me tell you for certain – her Mama wouldn’t and couldn’t love her an ounce more if she did. I understand it only shallowly as I might understand faith and hope in the abstract. We can skim the surface or go in to find the depths of those bottomless wells. Words hardly fit such a love.
I imagine if I were like the Apostle Paul or that godly woman who wrote the holy book of gratitude. I imagine if somehow I could be that good, even then I wouldn’t be righteous–the secret that both these envied saints know well. I imagined that I never get better, never stop struggling with anger or depression or or or. Even then, I am the same.
I am the righteousness of God in Christ. That work is done. Holley says I’m already amazing. So I sit with it, the grace and the love. I am the daughter, and there’s nothing I can do, and I am free. That right there is the good news.