Armor of Grace

Thankfulness is a language of love. It does not deny the reality of problems but continues to rejoice in Jesus in the midst of  trials.

As I sit here this morning looking out the window watching the clouds slowly open up allowing the sun to shine through, I’m reminded of the gradual awakening my self has experienced this past year – an awakening to the love that exists for us all.

“This welcoming toward myself took a big adjustment, a rebalancing of my soul. There had been so much energy thrown into performance, achievement, and disguise. I felt I had gotten a permission slip for the great field trip, to the heart of myself, in the protection of a few trusted friends.” -Ann Lamott, Small Victories 

In each single moment, we have a choice. We can choose to practice Jesus’ presence or to practice the presence of problems. We can choose courage rather than comfort. We can choose to practice our values rather than simply profess them.

In my current professional work, I’m faced with these choices every day. And admittedly the “fast and easy” is at times tempting. The child welfare system is complicated, messy, and exhausting. Each day myself and our program’s volunteer advocates are in the arena striving to do our very best, daring greatly, and extending compassion to all based on the understanding and rationale that all human beings have the innate desire to be happy and overcome suffering. This framework has been valuable in placing my own “daily problems” in the proper perspective.

Standing in the arena I’m challenged with feeling frightened about what comes next. And in this past year, I’ve allowed this challenge to teach me to embrace the uncertainty.

This Thanksgiving, I’m humbled by our program’s volunteer advocates. These individuals do not respond to any type of suffering reservedly or mildly; they are not the type of individuals to fail in acts of kindness. Rather, they are the type of individuals to show up with no guarantee of outcome, which Brené Brown has shared is the only path to more love, belonging, and joy. I’m honored to be surrounded by such inspiring women-their actions and selflessness are what continues to motivate me to avoid making those tempting “easy” choices, and instead to always choose integrity.

The love that I have been awakened to is the love found in Jesus’ way. And Glennon Doyle Melton says it best,

“I tell them that Jesus’ way is love and that there are plenty of folks screaming his name who aren’t following the way; and that there are plenty of people who’ve never uttered Jesus’ name who are following the way of love beautifully. I teach them that faith is not a club to belong to, but a current to surrender to. I teach them that they’ll know they’re in the current when they are becoming kinder and gentler and more open and grateful and when they feel constantly carried toward people they fear so they can fall in love and stop being afraid.” -from Love Warrior

I have much to be grateful for every day, and today, I’m grateful to spend it with the people who have supported and encouraged me my entire life, my family.

Let us not forget the many children today who do not get to sit around a table of food surrounded by family and friends. And this year, let us all come to the understanding that compassion is a relationship between equals and a recognition of our shared humanity.

One last thing: I’ve also learned this past year that mashing cold butter into flour to make pie crust is therapeutic. And sharing pie over conversation with friends and strangers might be a good place to start for a better understanding of one another, especially when the pie crust has cheddar and bacon in it.

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