It was one of those days from the second my feet hit the floor… ten minutes late.
I shot out of bed after realizing that I’d slept through my alarm. I sprinted for the shower, then ran downstairs, tossing on clothes and running a brush through my sopping hair. I couldn’t find my glasses, and well, without my glasses I couldn’t see to find my glasses… (Life is full of vicious cycles such as this at 5:45 in the morning.) I felt through my blurry medicine cabinet, popped contacts in my eyes, and flew out the door.
I was late to Bible study (barely, but none-the-less). From Bible study I raced to work where I sat in a classroom of screaming little ones– all sick from the cold going around the Street School. After a few hours of cranky babes and being thrown up on twice, the dismissal bell rang and I left as quickly as my frazzled feet would carry me.
I dropped off one of my students on my way home and raced inside to change into my running clothes. Two miles later, I was happily out of breath, running just barely behind schedule. I ran inside my front door and grabbed my water bottle, remembering that I needed to get to the bank before they closed. After digging through my purse for a minute, I realized I’d left my wallet in the car earlier in my haste to change out of my work clothes.
I glanced at the time. 4:45. Perfect. I’ve got 15 minutes to get 3 blocks to the bank before they close. Easyyyyy.
I ran out the back door of the Yarrow House, locking it behind me. Just as I slammed it shut and took a step off the porch, it hit me.
My keys were inside the house… the house that I’d just locked myself out of.
After a few frantic texts to my roommates, it became apparent that I wasn’t getting in the house or into my car for at least an hour.
Well, the garden needs to be weeded and at least the shed’s not locked today… I thought. If I’m not gonna make it to the bank, I might as well be productive in a different way. So I sat and dug dandelions out of the little fenced off dirt plot in the yard, laughing out the majority of my frustration.
As I laughed and yanked the weeds out of the earth, my wild post-run hair fell down over my eyes. I attempted to sweep it out of my face with the back of my hand and I realized I’d made a mistake just as everything went blurry.
I’d swept my contact right out of my eye, into the dirt. With no way to make it inside to rinse it off, I declared it a loss and buried it with my finger.
Growing more frustrated with my situation, yet still determined to make the most out of my time locked out of the house, I shut my contact-less eye, squinted at the soil, and continued to pull weeds.
Alright God… Not funny. I have a million and one things to do to prep for Alaska and a million and two things on my mind, and now I’m essentially a prisoner in my own backyard– a sweaty, windswept, partially blind, mud caked prisoner.
That was not how I saw my Tuesday going.
The night before, I’d laid out my clothes with grand plans of being graceful, put-together, professional, and productive… the type of woman I usually feel like I should be. But my Tuesday had been a not-so-delicate reminder that that is not the kind of woman God has created me to be.
I’m perpetually late. My clothes usually don’t match. My glasses (if I can even find them) usually have tiny finger prints covering them from working with tiny humans and their mommas all day. I’m spacey and lose things more often than I find them. I’ve been described as a hail storm– wild, unpredictable, and noisy– when I sprint into a room just a few moments behind schedule. I’m a hot freaking mess, and most of the time I’m okay with that.
However, even on my best, most confident days, comparison can creep in and leave me feeling insecure and worth-less (not worthless) because I am not some put together, graceful princess.
As I sat, barefoot in my weedless garden that afternoon, aimlessly tracing lines in the dirt, I thought about all the people I consider to be graceful and it dawned on me that, dang it, I am graceful. Or at least I strive to be grace full; full of grace.
It’s an awkward kind of grace for sure, but it’s there. And it’s there despite all my clumsiness, tardiness, blindness, and well… general mudiness…
Grace is in there somewhere because Jesus is.
It’s not the type of grace that I could exude or perfect by being timely, well dressed, or less of an overall space case. No, it’s the kind of grace that is purely a gift from God because of who Jesus is and what He has done for me, for all of us, on the cross:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth... For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1: 14, 16)
Jesus came to this mess of an earth, lived a perfect life, died a death that I deserved, and then conquered death to raise Himself back to life. It’s the gospel of perfect love and grace that I hear all the time. Yet somehow I forget it’s just as true for me, (the one who simply can’t seem to get anything together, ever) as it is for the ones I constantly compare myself to.
I may not be able to get my ducks in a row or be graceful by the world’s standards, but I’m sticking to my revelation that I am indeed, full of grace because He has allowed me to live out of His fullness. Even though, I’m weak and a mess, in the awareness of my disheveled state I’m able to rely on His strength and perfection by and because of His grace to me.
Theodore Roosevelt wisely said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I know that to be far too true, but I’m slowly realizing that if I let it, comparison can also kill my awareness of His grace…
263 days after writing this, I found myself walking down an airplane runway in Port Alsworth with Kathryn. As we meandered our way to a friends’ house, we talked about the unpublished draft of this very blog, laughing at how dramatically different my life looks a year later, but how much of a mess I still am.
This draft mentally resurfaced on our walk because I was wearing contacts yet again, as I’d woken up that late morning (way after my four alarms) unable to find my glasses. (Which I swear had to have been stolen from my room in the middle of the night by gypsies or something, because their location still escapes me…)
The million and one things that were on my frazzled mind in that garden have all been worked out in the beautiful sovereignty and grace of the Lord. Clearly, I eventually made it back into my house that evening and to the bank sometime later that week. The million and two support letters that the Lord used to bring me to Alaska were sent out, perhaps a few days (or weeks) later than I’d intended, but that didn’t impede upon God’s faithful provision or plan.
Sure, I’m still a hail-storm of a human. And no, maybe I don’t have a car that I can lock myself out of these days, but I did almost back a 4-wheeler into a house last night… I digress to simply say (mostly to remind my own fickle heart) that there’s nothing I (or you) could ever do to disrupt the grace-full sovereignty of God in His bigger story or tiny details.
While I’m reminded daily of my shortcomings and weaknesses, that has never stopped God from reminding my hot mess of a self that everything is accomplished by His grace and goodness, not the world’s expectations of what grace should look like in me.
Glory be to God.
(“Forever Reign”, Hillsong United)