Growing up in the church, grace became one of the most common words in my vocabulary. “By God’s grace…” “She just needs a little grace” “Professor can I have some grace for this assignment?”
Grace became less of an abstract concept and more of just a word that I knew I could put in a sentence to make what I was saying sound more holy. I don’t think I fully understood what grace was but from what I could gather, it was a good thing. It was years later that I realized although Grace is a good thing, it doesn’t always feel good.
Let me set the scene… I was working full time as a Resident Director at a Christian University. This job essentially meant I was a full time mentor. A full time mentor to about 12 girls but more widely, I was responsible for 250 female first year students. My job was to be there for them, counsel them, guide them and help them navigate the tricky college years ahead. I loved my job. I loved my job and I was good at it. I thrived on being an example and mentor to these girls, it was my greatest joy to see them grow in their understandings of themselves and God. What a great set up right? Well, it’s a great set up until you do something bad.
One night, I started texting a guy that I used to date. A guy whose role in my story should have ended a long time before that night. As you might have guessed, this scenario ended with me driving an hour and ten minutes to his house just to hook up with him. What a great role model right?
I drove an hour and ten minutes to hook up with a guy because I value my own immediate pleasure over long term discipline.
I drove an hour and ten minutes choosing to intentionally drown out the voice inside telling me “this is not what you really want” with whatever ratchet music I was listening to.
I drove an hour and ten minutes actively choosing to not think about the role model that I was or the influence I had.
I drove an hour and ten minutes away from the woman that I knew I wanted to be.
So, I drove an hour and ten minutes and eventually, had to drive back. The drive back to my apartment was the absolute worst. I drove an hour and ten minutes in silent guilt that no amount of ratchet music could drown out.
I got back to my apartment, laid in my bed and just began to sob. I sat in my bed crying, throwing the biggest disappointment party that anyone could ever throw themselves and then I got a text. “What time should I meet you for church?” It was Sunday morning and I had promised to take one of my students with me to church.
Now the tears really started to stream and I thought to myself “how the hell can I take someone to church... I am the the literal worst.” As I sat there and told myself what a bad person I was I thought to myself “Let me invite God into this conversation so She can get a few rounds in of telling me how disappointed She is in me” So I sat quietly and just heard the voice of God so clearly say “you are my daughter and I love you” WHAT!? No, I want punishment, I want disappointment, I want anger! It was in that moment that I realized the grace of God does not feel like sunshine and roses… this felt more traumatic.
There is nothing more traumatic then wanting disappointment and punishment and instead, receiving unconditional love. That’s grace and that grace is traumatic.
I eventually realized that the Grace of God is what calls me out of self condemnation and pity. Its what called me out of my bed to get my disappointed ass up and still take this girl to church, that grace is what told me that I don’t get to sit on the sidelines just because I feel bad about myself. It is the grace of God that called me to a frightening level of freedom and love and that same grace is calling you.
This post is not to say that hooking up with someone is the worst thing you can do. But rather, we will all do things that will disappoint ourselves and we will all act outside of the people we want to be. This post is to say that when you feel disappointed and guilty, grace shows up in full swing telling you to get your disappointed ass up, you can’t stay there anymore.