Grace: the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
Everything about who I am as a human being rages against the idea of grace.
I am stubborn. I was educated by the school of hard knocks as well as an inner city liberal arts university. I am a survivor of abuse and of being an abuser myself. I am an intelligent, independent minority woman who in many regards has had to fight tooth and nail to become the person I am today. I am passionate about Love and give everything that I can to those whom I love.
Grace conflicts with nearly everything on that list.
Grace is a gift. Grace is unjustified favor, and in other words, as a child of God, there is nothing I could ever do to earn it or lose it.
Grace is the most beautiful gift I’ve ever received from God and for some reason that makes my soul bristle a bit.
Think about it all for a second…
The Son of God came down to this earth in the most lowly of ways– by being born in a filthy barn. He lived amongst the outcasts, healing the sick, loving the poor. He was not popular, glamorous, or concerned with pomp and circumstance as a “good king” should have been, and yet He was and is our Good King.
As one of His last acts of Love, he took the filthy bare feet of His disciples– the same feet that walked miles on end collecting dust, grime, slime, and excrement– and HE WASHED THEM.
Part of me has always understood the beauty of that picture– the Son of Man washing His disciples’ feet and urging them to go and do likewise to the people whom they met.
And maybe it’s because I have a strong stomach and a job history as a CNA, but washing the disgusting feet of others doesn’t bother me. Not literally and not figuratively. It’s what my God has called me to and I love to do it.
I love to serve and tangibly love on people, which is why I work where I do.
I love to sit across from students after they scream and cuss at me, after they throw furniture and break windows. I love it because I get to look them in the eye and tell them that there is nothing that they could do to make me love them less because of the love that Christ has given me for them.
And secretly? I love those moments because I slightly enjoy watching them squint their eyes in disbelief and squirm in their chairs.
They don’t ever get it, this grace that is being offered to them…
And honestly, I don’t either.
Because when it’s time for other people to extend grace to me or wash my feet– my feet that are bloodied from battle wounds at work, covered in salt streaks from my tears, and my own crap that I continuously walk in circles through, I recoil.
I pull my feet under myself and I refuse it.
Fuller, our Bible teacher, has been teaching this story from John in chapel. A few weeks ago, he announced at the beginning of chapel that he was going to wash the feet of all of the teachers. Panicked, I slipped into the back of the room. I’m wearing my running shoes. My feet probably smell terrible. This is totally not happening. There is NO WAY I’m letting him near my feet.
It was stupid, but I refused his act of grace, even though it was a chapel illustration. This being the same man whom I have cried in front of countless times over the years in staff meeting, my brother in Christ whom I literally trust with my life and process so many of life’s silly problems with.
I would let him see all of my baggage, wounds, and tears, but there was no way I was going to humble myself to let him serve me by washing my yucky feet.
(Thankfully in true DSS fashion, one of my advocates had a total meltdown and ran out of the room crying right as Fuller began to call the teachers forward. So naturally, I had to run out of the room after her. I thought I was off the hook from learning that lesson…Turns out I was wrong.)
Three weeks later, the phrase “Believe. Jesus is better.” came up so many times I could have sworn that everyone around me had been reading my mail.
At first, it came out of the mouth of one of my best friends, who just so happens to be on the other side of the world. Three hours later, it came from a friend in my Gospel Community at dinner. Two times in one day? I was willing to chalk it up to coincidence.
Then it came from my roommate… Then during worship at church… Then in a song an old friend sent me. Then during a theology class I’ve been attending on Monday nights. Jesus is better. Pray that your heart would believe.
The icing on the cake of “coincidence” came Tuesday afternoon when I stuck my hand into my mailbox and pulled out a maroon envelope addressed to me with no return address or explanation of where it had come from. The contents?
Like a logical human being, I screamed and threw the letter on the ground upon reading it… And then I went to work on an unfruitful, mad hunt to figure out who sent the letter. Instead of answers, all that I got back were questions.
“How are you responding to this message?” one of my friends asked me after I rattled off my “Jesus is better” chain of events.
“I honestly don’t even know what to do. I don’t know what to think or how to feel or anything. I’m just overwhelmed…” I rambled through iMessenger, desperate for some sort of action I could take to understand this mess.
I do believe, God. I believe in You! I don’t know what the heck you want me to believe?! Something specific? Am I doing something wrong? What can I do to understand?! I sat and thought and thought…and thought.
In the midst of the stress that these last three weeks has caused me, I managed to spin myself into a tizzy.
“Hmmm… I don’t know, Kace. Maybe it’s more than an instruction but a confirmation. Maybe just to rest in the truth and lean into the truth that He is ALL you need.”
Great. Really helpful there bud, I thought snarkily as I read my friend’s text message, trying to process how to practically apply that to my life in addition to this Truth that “Jesus is Better”.
“You know, I can spin myself into a tizzy trying to figure this kind of stuff out…” He continued. “But then I recognize that by trying to figure out why something is happening, I lose focus on the One who is guiding me. Just turn and focus on Jesus… the rest will come.”
Mmmm good. So now I had a friend who was trying to wash my feet with Godly guidance and I was being told to stop working to figure it out and rest… Two more things that make my antsy, sinful heart twitch.
By the time last Thursday evening rolled around, the confusion, panic, and tizziness (I’ve decided that tizziness is a word; deal with it.) was piled just about as high as I could take it, but due to the nature of my month, I was fresh out of tears and emotional energy.
As I sat in rush hour traffic while trying to bust across town for parent/teacher conferences, the song “Jesus is Better” by Austin Stone Worship flipped on through the shuffle on my iPhone and I just about lost it.
“WHAT?!” I shouted in my car as I slammed my palm on my steering wheel. (Sidenote: Shouting in your car at a red light with all of your windows down? Yeah, not recommended… You’ll get some weird looks.) “WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL ME?!”
Stop working and running and spinning yourself into a tizzy. Just accept my Grace. My Grace is better than your works, so stop. Accept my Love and know that it will never fail when everything else does. Just accept it and stop trying to fight Me on it already. I am better. Just stop and let Me wash your feet…Let the people I have placed in your life wash your feet. Just stop, Kacy. Just stop and focus on Me…
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Make my heart believe.