Thursday, November 6, 2008

Haunting Memories of Grace-less Times

And all of you, serve each other in humility, for "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble*".
1 Peter 5:5 ( *Prov 3:34)
I have always struggled with grace. Not the tripping over my feet gracefulness, but the knowing when to shut my mouth kind. I don't know why that is, either. I'm a smart girl. I "play well with others" most of the time. But sometimes I just keep talking without the right thing to say. I've always, always admired people who can handle any situation with a smile and seem to make people feel good whatever the circumstance is. I can think of several lovely ladies off the top of my head, but sadly, I do not fall into that category.
Last year about this time of year, I had a newborn and a 2 year old. I was on maternity leave and was dealing with some post- partum issues. Now, I wasn't "depressed", per say, but I just had some hormones out of whack (as to be expected) and was not quite feeling like myself. And you can't tell when you're in this situation, but you can sure tell when you come out of it.
One Thursday morning I mustered up the will to get to Coffee with God. This is a wonderful Bible Study that my friend Gina (Deal or No Deal model below) started 2 or 3 years ago. Everybody comes if they can and if they can't then that's fine,too- which is why it has such a wonderful following- no pressure! We meet at a coffee shop and discuss topics that Gina e-mails out the week before.
So, I got Harris dressed, probably re-dressed, then the same for myself. I think I had to pump, change a diaper, etc. I was late, but scooted in and if I recall, didn't even have my Bible.
As the group went on, I just listened, talked and enjoyed the company, but there was one girl that I didn't know there. Toward the end of the meeting, she came up and asked me if she could hold Harris and my first and very quick response was, "I don't know you. I'm sorry." Now, you may think that is justified since it was the winter-ish and I had a 5 week old and you are not supposed to give your new children over to strangers. Those were exactly my thoughts, too, at the time. I was even a little appalled that she asked. I was SO proud of myself for telling her no, even. Before we left, someone hastily apologized and introduced us, but it was AWKWARD. I think I let him sit in her lap a little before we had to go, but it was just a weird situation. The whole thing is stinging in my gut as I'm retelling the story. And this is why.

I came to find out that this sweet woman had a dying 6 year old at home. That's right. A little boy who was DYING and here I am hogging my baby like she is a kidnapper at Bible Study. I was so PROUD of myself that I had told her no and that she was in the wrong.
You know what God says about that: "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble".
I realize that you can't pass around your newborn to everyone who asks in cold season, but my attitude was what was in the wrong place. On purpose, I had been proud and a little hateful.
Fast forward to this Saturday night- one year later- at our Halloween party. This woman and her husband walk in. I immediately knew it was her although I'd only seen her that one time. And I remembered that the host of the Halloween party had also brought her to Coffee with God that day. Dang it. I have had nightmares this past year about what to say, how to make up for being so rude. I got the e-mail that her son had died a few months after the incident at the Bible Study. Ugh. Why can't I just be the graceful one in those situations? I start to kick myself all over again.

So, I wait for the right time and went over and apologized. I didn't mention anything about her child, but just let her know that I was sorry about the situation and how I'd handled it. I was sorry that I was rude, and I was going through some issues at the time. And I apologized for being so un-Christ-like right there in Bible Study. She was very nice and understanding. I even thought that she may have forgotten, but then she said something about it and I realized she knew exactly what I was talking about. Ick. She hadn't forgotten my stinging words, either.
I know I can't ever take back the whole scenario, but hopefully I let her know that I was sorry about it. And maybe I have learned a little lesson. You have to be humble to have grace. Especially the grace that flows from God. Pride just gets right there in the way of that. And the acknowldgement of God's grace is what makes you humble and allows you to be graceful in words and deeds.
And the irony of it all is: guess where God (via Gina) gave me this verse? At Coffee with God the Thursday before that party Saturday night.
So, if you think that God doesn't care about the details, you are wrong, my friend. He is right there trying to weave His Grace through all of them.


LOOK WHO'S MARRIED!!!! said...

Hillary, great story. I'm sure I need to work on grace too. I'm glad you feel comfortable enough to post stories about learning a lesson. I did that recently, but had people jump on me for offending someone in the first place. Wow..this blogging thing is tough.
You did a great job in this story. We are always constantly learning lessons and constantly working to perfect ourselves. It's a tough road, but we gotta keep working.

Jenny said...

Wow CWG is awesome, isn't it? For many reasons, of course. I remember that day (not to make you feel worse than you already do..), and I think that we have all had those moments when we reacted in a way so HUMAN-like that it's sickening. But, you are blessed that your connection with God is strong enough that you allowed Him to work through you to apologize to her. Not many people would have had the knowledge (of grace) or the guts to do that, so I commend you in your courage to make amends.

annieck said...

Oh, Hillary. I feel your pain. Those moments, those moments when you wish you could just suck back in every word that came so quickly out of your mouth...I have moments I remember from the sixth grade. It almost seems like I said them yesterday (ok, they're not ALL from sixth grade. My point is, I still feel the sting from words I said even back then).
The tongue is impossible to tame. God has been dealing with me on this very issue, so your timing on this story is perfect for me. I have been reading James 3 because it deals with words and the power of the tongue.
Thanks for openly sharing your heart and your awkward encounter. You have helped me, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. :)

Jennifer said...

I don't know what to say about this other than what people have already posted... we have all done it and wish we hadn't. I think it is an inspiring story. Keep your chin up life is just one big lesson! Love ya!

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