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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

A Standard of Grace

Yesterday, Andrea was concerned about something and talking it out with me over IM. Concerns can spiral into worry and worry is seldom rational. So I responded in a way that was probably part dismissive and part flippant to Andrea and she said this…

“Sometimes your tough love is a little tough to bear.”

I hadn’t meant to deliver a heaping spoonful of tough love but that’s in fact what I’d unwittingly served up.

I’m currently listening to Jen Hatmaker’s new book, Of Mess and Moxie. I’ve got plenty of both. Tonight, Hatmaker read from her book, “…human insecurity wants everyone right where we are, in the same headspace at the same time. We want to progress and digress at a comparable rate….We need to get better at permission and grace. What is right for us may not be right for everyone and we don’t have to burn down the house simply because we’ve moved our things out. Other good folks probably still live there and until one minute ago, we did too. We can bless the honorable parts of that house and express sincere gratitude for what we learned under its roof. It is unwise and shortsighted to isolate the remaining inhabitants because there’s a lot of life left. And, as it turns out, we are all still neighbors.”

My higher power speaks to me through other people such as my wife, writers like Jen Hatmaker and members of my tribe who also have plenty of mess and moxie.

I have a tendency to burn the house down. I forget the season when I lived there and just how lonely that season was and how blessed I was to have people who held me up with an abundance of permission and grace.

At times, I don’t understand people and this frustrates me. Andrea reminded me of when we were new puppy parents and would take Wrigley for walks in our urban neighborhood. At times, most often at red lights when we waited to cross the street, Wrigley would sit down and awkwardly yawn. And I was like, “What the hell is he doing?” Only later, we learned that puppies often do this when they aren’t certain what to do or how to behave. Andrea reminded me that people, like animals, have defense and coping mechanisms.

“Remember sweet, unassuming little Max?” asked Andrea, reminding me a of a cat I’d scooped up on Craigslist, “…and then you brought him home and he was a fucking nightmare until he realized you weren’t going to kill him.”

Andrea knows a lot about permission, grace and abundance of gratitude. And when I marvel at this, and at how fortunate I am to be with this strong woman of mess and moxie, who loves me in spite of my abundance of mess, she shrugs it off saying, “..I hope someone would be like that to me.” Andrea had this teacher in her life who didn’t burn the house down. That person, Andrea says, “took my shame and weakness and just went with it.” Permission and grace.

For what it's worth, I burn my own house down, while I am in it. I judge myself without mercy and it's all very tiring. So I'm going to try grace - - permission for the mess.

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