I'm not a grace-giver. Don't think I ever have been. I am highly self motivated (although you'd never guess by the state of my home right now) and very opinionated. One of my favorite things I've been learning by this counseling process is grace. My hubby summed it up perfectly the other day. "You've gotten to the point where every time you meet someone who doesn't do things exactly the way you think they need to be done, you say to yourself 'that's okay that you don't agree with me. we really don't have to be friends anyway!'" Ugh. The truth hurts! :) My daily goal in life was to be a better classical pianist and a better classical equestrian. I'd go from lesson to lesson....from competition to competition.....always hearing the same thing. If I cut corners (literally) too often in my riding lessons, my instructor would make me ride the corners deeply enough that my knees would scrape the walls of the indoor arena. After enough bruises you learn very quickly to NOT cut corners! :) My piano teacher (not my mother) would tell me that classical music was harder than brain surgery because at least surgeons had a moment to pause and think about what they were about to do. Musicians weren't allowed to change the timing of the music! And to top it off, I had a father who rose at 4:30am, hiked 5 miles, memorized half the Bible, and was out the door for work by 7. :) For years I made myself live by a set of rules. I just wanted to be better, and succeed. My favorite books of the Bible have always been Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Proverbs. I LOVED the list of rules! Just tell me what to do, or who to be, or how to live....I can just follow the rules! Because of this, I also think every one else should have to live by my set of rules as well. What? You don't make your own bread? You let your children eat store-bought-processed-white-flour-crap? Hm. Guess I'll just cross you off my list. What was that? You have given your child an antibiotic? Um...I had no idea you were such an idiot. Well, there goes our friendship! This is somewhat deeply rooted in my view of God. He's a rule-maker. He's a task master. He'll ruin your life if you screw this one up! I can remember begging and pleading on my knees every Saturday night. I had kissed my boyfriend one too many times. I let him get a little too involved. AND I was scheduled to play the piano Sunday morning! AHHH! I was terrified! I had "screwed up", once again, and God was going to make me "pay" by letting my book fall to the floor or my fingers would slip off the keys and I'd make a total embarrassment of myself. After hearing the words "Meg, your daddy was killed this morning. The plane went down." do you know what my very first thought was? It was my fault. I had no idea he was getting on a plane. If I had known, I could have prayed, and then he would've been fine! My life was a list of do's and don'ts. DO IT ALL - have the perfect life. SCREW IT UP - say goodbye to blessings! During our last counseling session he asked me when was the last time I read any of the gospels....Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Ummmm, are you crazy?!? Why would anyone want to read a story? I never thumbed those pages. They didn't consist of rules. But because I'm a good girl who likes to follow the book, I agreed to start with John. God showed me that in John 1:14 it says "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." I took a double take. And a third. Grace and truth. I was reminded earlier that day that God embraced the prostitute but hated the religious people. I don't know about you, but the "religious" people I grew up around said that your skirt had to touch your ankles, and you had to wear pantyhose, and you had to sing out of a hymnal, and you had to attend every service, and you had to get 10 people saved so those 10 people could get 10 more people saved, and those 10 people.... I'd never considered grace and truth. It had only ever been a list of rules. My relationship with my Savior was "religious". Now I could see how that clearly defined all of my relationships. Religious people suck. They use flannel graph lessons of demons and fire and lions to show you what will happen if you don't obey. Religious evangelists suck. You know the ones. The nights that you sit in your pew trembling because you know you trusted Jesus as your Savior when you were 5, but the man behind the pulpit will make you question the validity of that decision because you took a sip of alcohol when you were 17, or because you weren't doing enough to "save your 10 people" yet. Where was God? I, for one, didn't grow up with the knowledge of a God full of grace and truth. I do need to make clear, though, that I really don't see it as anyones fault. My parents certainly weren't the ones preaching hell, fire and brimstone at home. My parents were FULL of grace. I don't think it was my church, either. Although I can still see very clearly that group of church members who definitely aided in my distortion. They were grumpy. And never paid attention to the kids. And wore panty-hose. :) I'm not totally a "every thing is grace..." person, and we're not into the whole "Grace Based Parenting" thing. I think consequences must be had when you or your child is in sin. But my oh my how my eyes have been opened just a little bit more as to who He is and what He is about. Grace, anyone?
I am praying now that my boys never meet girls like me. I was catty, manipulative, and easy. I threw my jeans in the dryer 20 minutes before leaving for youth group so they'd be as tight as I could get them. Literally. Seth and I joke around constantly about how thankful we are that we didn't grow up together. I would've thought he was a pleated-pants-comb-over dork. His parents would've put me on the "don't ever get near that girl" list. :) What I once considered "sheltering" I now greatly desire for my sons. Boys will be boys, and God designed them to be visual, but I want to make sure I'm raising men that will one day be good husbands....not good boyfriends. I purchased this BOOK a while ago but didn't think the authors looked "up to date", so it sat on the shelf. :) I picked it up a few weeks back after my oldest son proclaimed that only girls with very long blonde hair could be pretty. Ugh. What have I created, and how could I have done so much damage in only 5 years!?! The book was totally from the Lord and has given me a new perspective. I now know that my boys have a love for fighting, and guns, and adventure because God created them with the attributes needed to defend and fight for their families some day! It's the over abundance of super-heroes and violent video games that turn those wonderful God-given desires into violent acts that seem so disruptive and immature. I'm not quite finished the book. My dear husband stole it to read on his long flight to Hawaii. But it has already produced a change in the way I parent. I always thought I wanted to be the parent of the "cool kids". Now I'm not so sure. I think I'd rather be the parent of the "will know how to lead and provide for his family" kid.
Five years later, I am still so thankful he picked me. Blessed beyond belief with three miracle babies. Exposing my soul on a worn piano bench. Collecting my thoughts through dressage. Sipping something sweet and hot in the rain. Speechless of God's grace.