Grace, Grace, In Your Face
It takes about an hour and a half to drive from the city of Fort Collins, CO, to my family's home in Littleton. But on that day in late August, it only took me a mere forty minutes, and I have no recollection of how I safely made my way home. Between hyperventilating and nervously nibbling on pita chips, the blaring honk of reminder from passersby was the only thing that kept me in my lane, trying to navigate the road through tear-blurred eyes.
I was going home to tell my family that I was expecting a baby.
It didn't feel real. I recited what I would say in my head, over and over again. Should I just be straightforward? Did I need to preface the news with anything? How could I justify this? Will they reject me? Just a couple of weeks before, they had helped me move into my college house, and joyfully sent me off into my independence - something that I had so been desiring and saving up for, for quite some time. I had already put them through a hell of a summer (I don't mean to curse, but I made some choices that made for a season from hell. Literally. Spiritual warfare and all.) And they were delighted for me to start off on a new adventure of growth and the pursuit of my dreams. I got my new adventure of growth, all right. It just wasn't what any of us ever expected.
Pregnant. I was about to tell my family that I was pregnant. They didn't even know that I had ever had sex before. I couldn't even say the word "penis" without giggling. (newsflash: I still can't. And if you can't say penis without blushing, you probably aren't ready to have sex... but that's an entirely different discussion.)
I pulled into the driveway and switched the gear to park. My hands were trembling as I turned off the ignition before fumbling out of the car and making my way to the front door, bracing myself for the cheerful greeting likely awaiting me on the other side. I closed my eyes and pushed through the door.
Nobody was home. I felt a nudge of relief for a moment, followed by a wave of dismay, realizing that the wait for my family to arrive home would be the most agonizing of my life. I couldn't bear to be alone with my thoughts anymore, reciting what I would say to my family. The weight of this was simply too much for me to carry on my own. I paced back and forth for what seemed like an eternity, clutching my stomach, pausing now and then to fall to my knees and cry out, burying my face into my hands. I don't think the floors of my home have ever seen more tears, and this was just the beginning. My oldest sister was the first to come home, and, after sitting her on the couch, through choked back sobs, I simply told her what was going on. She couldn't say much, as the shock and tears did not take their time overtaking her. By the time she could begin to attempt to speak, my parents and little sister pulled into the driveway and raced to the door, fighting each other to see me first. Nobody was expecting me home, so they thought I was surprising them by visiting for the weekend. When they burst into the house, the resounding cheers of my name were quickly muted when they saw the mess of me that was in a heap on the couch - bits of my heart scattered all across the floor. My mom swiftly made it next to me and scooped me into her lap as if I was a little girl again. I sent my dad into another room, there was no way I could form the words I had to say in front of him. I sent my little sister away, too. I didn't want her to see me like this. She looked up to me. Her friends looked up to me. I was supposed to be strong, wise, and set a good example for her. I felt like I had failed miserably.
Forget the speech I had been reciting in my head, all I could do was weep. My mom rocked me back and forth, I couldn't look into her eyes. I buried my face into her neck and she stroked her hand across my hair, damp from sweat and tears, comforting me, when she did not yet know why. She held me tight and stabilized herself against my violent sobs, assuring me in a whisper that everything would be okay, and that we could get through this together, still not knowing what I was about to tell her. What she said next would give me just the peace and courage I needed to find my voice about what had happened. She whispered,
“Lindsey, whatever it is, there is NOTHING you could do that would make me love you less.”
My mother, in that moment, showed me more grace than most of us can muster up in a lifetime.
I had practically spit in her face - disregarded the wisdom she had instilled in my heart for an entire lifetime. Ignored her loving and rebuking warnings over the past several months. Disrespected her and her authority as a parent. Lied to her. Broken her heart, along with her trust. Temporarily rejected the truth that my family is my foundation. Nearly succumbed to an awfully evil scheme of the enemy. And what did she do? She held me. She comforted me. She told me that she would help me carry this, that we would face this together, that she loved me, and that no matter what I had done, she could never love me any less.
That day, and days to follow, my very own mother showed me such a powerful glimpse of the essence of Jesus Christ, and His heart for His children. Yes, eventually some walls were punched. Chairs overturned. To this day our pillows are haunted with the deafening screams they harbored from the audible breaking of hearts, because we are human, and we are allowed to be angry. Righteously so. And she isn't Jesus. But imagine Him when you come to Him, terrified and broken. He scoops you up into His lap, just as my mom did for me. And while His heart breaks with you, and for you, He covers you in statements of truth, and whispers that He will carry this for you, and that He will redeem whatever has been broken. But instead of punching walls, overturning chairs, and screaming into pillows, because only He is perfect, He makes His way back to the cross to sacrifice Himself, to take on your burdens, and rid of them forever. He longs for connection with you, no matter where your heart is or has been. There is no place so deep that He can't simply reach right down and scoop you up. He is always waiting for you to turn your face to Him, inviting you into a life of freedom. And it is a choice.
The title of this post is rather inaccurate, as grace is anything but in your face. Yes, it humbles you. But it is freely offered, never forced. It is a gentle and powerful gift of peace, making your heart light, but not taken lightly. Our God is not a God of confusion. He is not a God of shame. He hates shame. When you feel confused or ashamed, those feelings are not from Him. What is from God is a loving conviction and offer of peace, mercy, and a hand to guide you through processing and healing from destructive behavior or circumstances. Yes, conviction can feel uncomfortable, and the process of healing is nothing less than painful, but it brings you to a place where you don't have to hide anymore. The enemy can't spin more lies and destruction out of something that has been brought to light. Remember that God created you, He knows you, He loves you, and there is nothing you could do to make Him change His mind about you.
I look back on where I was, just over a year ago. Frozen in terror. Utterly devastated. Now? My life is overflowing with beauty. I was lost in sorrow, now I have abundant joy, and the most joy filled baby. Before, my heart and body were heavy, weighed down with despair. Now my heart dances and delights and I cannot keep from praising His name!
My mom held me when I was broken and gave me such a powerful invitation into freedom, and I am beyond thankful to have a mother who has supported me unconditionally. "Lindsey, there is nothing you could do that would make me love you less." Now that is grace. That is mercy. That is true love.