“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Marie Curie
The Point of Grace
If you were given the chance to re- design your life story what would it look like? Would you be rich, poor, famous, tall, short, heroic, tragic, comfortable or an epic adventurer? Where would you live? Who would your parents be? How would the world receive you?
This is one of the very questions that has lead me to believe in God. You see, only He could have woven beauty in the mess of my upbringing. Because, in all honesty, If you or I would have been in charge of designing my life story, neither of us would have ever conceived the craziness , nastiness, or the absurdness of it all. It has actually been so bizarre at times that even I question if it was real or imagined. The stories of hurt, abuse, neglect, abandonment, and even criminality are at times so extreme and haunting that it is stranger than fiction.
In light of all of it the story’s ending should have been predictable. As a writer, even I would put a character that has gone through so much trauma directly into a padded room where she can rock back and forth in the fetal position and YET that is not my ending.
It is not even my middle.
Somehow through physical, mental, emotional, sexual, and spiritual abuse I am able to put one foot in front of the other and walk through life in an upright fashion. I am not with out scars mind you….but I am blessedly endowed with a resilience that can only be explained (in my mind) as grace.
What do I mean by grace?
Well…grace has meant many things to me and all the meanings are real and true to me.
In our culture we can see grace in a manner of something or someone who displays elegance. Grace Kelly, Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn are some famous women who come to mind as pictures of this type of grace. This is not the kind of grace that would describe me or my life but it is a lovely variety of grace none-the -less.
There is also the grace that shows up as a prayer of thanksgiving usually around the dinner table. Coming from the Latin Gratia or gratitude and in a most humble fashion makes grace a verb.
In my instance grace has not been elegant or something anyone would naturally associate with gratitude. OH, on the contrary, The grace I am referring to has come at points in my life as a blessing (usually in disguise) and serves as a catalyst for change or opportunity.
For example….at 16 years old I had to escape the clutches of my physically abusive 20 something boy friend by army crawling through the neighbourhood hiding under vehicles desperately trying to be unseen. He had locked me in his bedroom of his mobile home (Cliche I know) and threatened to beat me if I made a sound. I somehow got loose and made a run for the door. He heard the screen door slam behind me and the scene quickly turned into predator chasing prey.
I remember the terror that ran through my veins as his corvette passed up and down the streets looking for me. It had been raining and the ground was muddy and wet soaking me to the bone. As the sound of his car grew distant I made a break for it and headed out of his trailer park avoiding the main road putting myself into a 6 foot deep irrigation ditch to get to the highway. The ditch was about 3 feet deep with water and the muddy bank kept giving way as I scrambled to climb up to the road. My hand finally reached a clump of weeds that somehow held my body weight and allowed me to pull myself up to the edge of the highway. My heart was beating out of my chest and I must have looked insane hitch hiking covered in mud. With the sound of the corvette still charging through the distance, I hopped into the first car that stopped.
This was a point of grace.
As I sat sobbing and vulnerable in this man’s car, he was kind enough to drive me 35 minutes to the house of my foster family. It was late and they rarely kept track of my coming and going so it was easy to slip in and out unnoticed. When I arrived home I went straight to my bedroom to undress and climb into bed. What I was not expecting was what happened next.
As I turned on the light I saw it right there on my bedroom mirror. Written in black eyeliner …
” YOU ARE A DEAD LITTLE SLUT”
I stood frozen in that spot looking past my own reflection at the marked threat. The air hung heavy with traces of his smell still there. It could only have been a matter of seconds between him leaving and me arriving.
This one last intrusion scared me enough to break change.
He had somehow, brazenly snuck into my foster home looking for me and in his spiteful way left me the message that would open the door to me telling someone….finally….about the abuse.
Again, no one…especially me….would ever think to bless someone with this kind of grace. However, this one intense point of grace…a crack that let enough light in…. gave me the courage to speak up. Some where, some how I was not letting him have control over me ANYMORE. and so I told my foster sister who then told her mother who then told someone who told him directly that we were all on to him. It was a small town so I still ran into him but, I had the strength to not be pulled back into his sick little world. You see….the moment I shined a light on the dirty little secret the shame of it lost its grip. Without shames hold on me I gained strength and grace seeped in.
That strength to me is grace.
This is the type of grace I am now understanding as being cut from the cloth of faith and in my instance identifies as the unmerited favour of God who bestowed a blessing upon me to bring me into relationship with Him so that I could see my worth. Yes, I had to go through an abusive relationship to eventually fully grasp grace.The dark CAN give shape to the light.
A life of faith building rarely looks neat and tidy and this is how I know it is of God, because if I wrote my story I would have chosen something that glorified me. I would have been rich, good looking, perfect family, neat and tidy life. My mother would not have been a prostitute addicted to heroin. My father would not have been the violent drunk that sometimes lived in the park all bloodied and sad begging for change from my friends as they waited for the bus. Christmases would have been spent around our big tree with smiles and love instead of at the penitentiary where we could visit both parents and a couple of other relatives too.
Yep….if I had been the author of my story it would have been a bit different.
Instead , God made me a mountain climber and gives me the strength to take each step from valley to peak and back again gaining a deeper perspective with each climb. Sometimes it feels like I am ill equipped, like climbing everest in flip flops, but that is just my fearful human perspective. When I take my eyes off my lack and instead focus on His greatness, I am able to climb to the top.
And when I practice the other kind of grace….as in gratitude….I can be thankful for the trials that have made me unique and for how God is using every messy little detail to write a bigger story
Besides….no one said grace had to be boring and apparently I am here to prove that. 😉
Grace and peace to you my friends!