I looked out the window today to find one of our nice outdoor furniture cushions torn, stuffing strewn about.

I could hardly be too mad as it was I who left the cushions out for the winter and it was I who forgot the dog was outside for far too long which meant mischief was highly likely. Yet, I was ticked. Those cost money to replace. What wastefulness! In order to make good on our wastefulness fast, I will now have to figure out how to fix it myself which means, sigh, pulling out my sewing machine and remembering how to use it!


But really, my kids are not much better. Just yesterday Solly had his little buddy over again. As we were getting ready to leave I heard a familiar crinkling sound, the sound of something being opened upstairs. I sternly called the boys down.

"What are you eating?" I asked.

"We aren't eating anything," said the cutest, most innocent looking friend ever. Truly, I wanted to believe him.

"AJ, last time you were here, you and Solomon went into the girls' room, stole their candy bag and ate their candy," I said. "That is not okay. You are not allowed to steal candy."

"Ok, we won't do it again," he said resolutely.

"You are not allowed to eat upstairs either," I told him.

"Ok, I won't."

Later that day, I went up to see what they had been doing and found this:

Apparently by "We won't do it again" he meant "We just did it again but we won't do it again after that!"

After much thought though, I realize that when left to our own devices, we adults are often no better than our kids or our puppies: the most creative creatures at tearing into that which we ought not. We know better but we do it anyway. The temptations are great. The promise of pleasure, reward, instant gratification....it's all so difficult to pass up. The problem with this whole free will thing is that it often becomes a gigantic stumbling block for us. Whether we are five and finding candy to sneak into our tummies, or decades older dealing with temptations of far greater consequence, our free will is tested again and again. And I am not talking just about big things: those that get us fired, or divorced, or stuck in jail. No, for most of us, the stormy moments are made of the thousands of daily decisions that can go awfully wrong or fantastically right.

It's like we have been blessed with this wonderful, horrible gift. A wonderful, horrible, God-given gift. (And you just have to know, upon the giving, God also said: "Oh and Humans, good luck with that!" And I am certain he snickers daily: "Hey Angels.....look what that tiny human life form is up to this time! Wait for it, wait for it.....MESS UP! Ha ha ha ha ha! They are such predictable little beings.")

This Lent has been full of those delicious moments where life seems rich for the taking but our decision to refrain from waste has reeled me back in, mostly keeping me on the straight and narrow. 

I have taken dozens of pictures of things I would like to buy but haven't; I have put stuff in my cart, only to pull it right back out again; I have begun to use my time in unproductive ways, only to stop and do the prudent thing.....and to be totally honest, I have also often chosen to continue on with the nonessentials because the activity is just too good to pass up. I have fallen behind on my Lenten studies and have done more than one marathon reading session to try to catch up. I have yelled at my kids (isn't that a waste of breath?), been short with my husband (I have short genes Kurt, what can I say!), wasted valuable time on a whole lot of nothingness.....I have failed, and started over, and failed again (my own version of "I just did that again but I won't do it again after that!"). Every day I remind myself that showing up is the first step towards transformation, but then I forget: it is not the only step. 

Showing up gets us started.

Grace transforms. 

But here is a truly wonderful thing: Grace is not of our making. Grace is not of our doing. No matter how good, or bad (or in between) we behave, we can't control Grace. Grace came before us and goes ahead of us. Our job is in the decision making: deciding whether or not to accept it, latch on to it, believe in its power to redeem us. And in doing so, we are transformed so that we can become dispensers of a grace we all so desperately crave. We may create our own storms. But then there is Grace.  We might still have to clean up our own messes, fix our own mistakes, and stare at our failings time and again. But Grace shatters through all of that and leads us onward.....past the storm. 

(And then we will forget and create a new storm......God does a lot of sighing I think....but still there is grace.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for leaving your comments and feedback! I am humbled by your presence in this place.