How Everyday {and Epic} Graces Are Saving My Life

everyday graces

I would love to tell you that since I wrote the post about hope dissolving into disappointment, life has settled into peaceful outcomes.

I’d love to tell you that I am already looking back over the absolute CA-RAZY of the last nine months and saying, “Wow. Thanks God. All of this makes perfect sense now.”

Instead I am still enjoying regular visits from the insomnia fairy that sprinkles me with anxiety dust between the hours of 2 a.m. and oh, sunrise.

This diatribe may have spewed from my sleep-deprived lips one morning during the last couple of weeks:

Would anyone else like to blame me for ALL THE THINGS going wrong in your life? How we’re out of peanut butter and sandwich meat and pencils and how that’s all my fault? Maybe I could get groceries and pencils if I wasn’t on my hands and knees cleaning up your rooms when I get called for a last-minute showing! Maybe I should just not clean up the house at all for a showing and this misery can go on forever and we will never move and you’ll have no one but yourselves to blame!

Raise your hand if you want me to be your wife or mom?

Raise your hand if you are calling me in a prescription?

It’s been about six weeks since that “hope dissolves” post. Since then I have at least TWELVE new chapters to add to my pretend book.

Chapter 37: “Tire Tales” — That time the tire blew out in the left lane of the highway with all three kids in the minivan on the way to our second orthodontist appointment. {Because I locked me keys in the van for the first appointment.}

Chapter 38: “Let’s Get a Wheelchair!” — When an everyday virus settled in my youngest child’s legs and he couldn’t walk for a couple of days.

wheelchair

Chapter 39: “When Your House is Under Contract. And Then It’s Not.”

Chapter 40: “The More the Merrier!” — When you have 4 showings in 24 hours.

Chapter 41: “Water Play” — How many cups of soapy, gray, laundry water are in the washing machine? You too can play this guessing game if your washer breaks with a full load of laundry. Note: Bouts of sobbing while scooping the water will skew the results.

Chapter 42: “Learning Not to Hate Everyone in Your House Because They Can Sleep and You Can’t”

Chapter 43: “How to Love Your Potty-Trained Dog When She Relapses”

Chapter 44: “Rug Origami: The Best Folds for Loading Pee Rugs in Your Van and Hauling Them to the Dump”

Chapter 45: “Practicing Unconditional Love When Your Beloved Child Breaks His Second Pair of New Glasses and Loses a Lens in the Gravitopia Foam Pit”

Chapter 46: “When Life Hands You a Lost Eyeglass Lens, Dig Deep into the Foam Pit and Find Two Wallets, a Watch, and a Gold Ring. {But alas, no lens.}”

Chapter 47: “Practicing Healthy Coping Mechanisms When Aforementioned Beloved Son With Freakishly Long Eyelashes is Learning to Put in New Contact Lenses Before School Every Morning”

Chapter 48: “Having a Happy Family Even Though Everyone is Unhappy”

And in case you’re wondering, the title of the pretend book I’m living / writing is called Pressed on All Sides: When Your Days Feels Like an Never-ending Mammogram. 

Because if I don’t laugh, I will check myself into somewhere institutional-ish.

And I know, I know, these are first-world problems, or whatever we’re calling our middle-class American issues these days.

photo (6)

I’ve often said that I’m a picture of grace when the big stuff hits. It’s the relentlessness of the everyday {especially when the everyday chaos ensues for months on end} that brings me to my knees. And not because I’m praying all the time so let’s just be clear about that. On my knees because I am too tired to keep standing up.

A friend of mine told me recently, “You are being hit hard on every side right now. Even my kids say, ‘I wonder what will happen to the Vischers this week.’ ”

We’ve become “those people.”

But I’m learning that when the days and nights are darkest, you throw yourself at the mercy of any light that happens to shimmy through the cracks.

Everyday gifts become epic graces that keep me from losing heart altogether.

  • The Starbucks gift card that a longtime friend many miles away sends on just the perfect day. {I drank flat whites for days.}
  • A friend who asks for your Costco list because you’ve been home with a sick child for days.
  • A candy-gram for said sick child that cheered us all up on a Sunday afternoon.
  • A counseling appointment you’d forgotten was even on the calendar but that showed up just in time.
  • My mom finishing the laundry at her house when the washer broke.
  • Someone who offers to pray with me after church and she doesn’t how beautifully perfect and timely and needful her prayer is.
  • A meal.
  • A birthday gift. Three months early.

 

And if the sum total of all these kindnesses wasn’t enough,

  • Jesus gave us a new washer. I don’t know any other way to say it.
  • Restoration of a dear relationship.
  • A part-time job for me that simply showed up most unexpectedly on a rainy Friday.
  • An invitation to share the message that’s closest to my heart with a sweet group of women.
  • An impromptu family getaway. {Not to be confused with a vacation. Kelly Ripa said yesterday morning that traveling with your kids is a trip. A vacation is when it’s just you and your husband, sans kids — dear, sweet, darling blessings though they are.}

 

But these many gifts, they are more kindness than I can handle.

Yet these good gifts do not negate the “pressing in” we still feel. Last week was positively awful — relationally, emotionally, and spiritually. Everything from nightmares and anxiety to a relapse of long-ago wounds. Graces don’t undo the hard things or gloss over them. They don’t provide the tangible answers we’re looking for.

Graces simply point us to truths that matter far more than the gifts themselves and the circumstantial outcomes for which we hope — God is real. He sees us. He loves us. He hears us. He delights to show up in very personal ways. He uses his own broken and willing people as a means of grace.

angel

Even though so many answers across the months seem like a no, a teacher reminded recently that God is always saying yes.

It’s a game-changer to think of disappointments through that backwards lens. My glass-half-empty self has been rolling my eyes at all the things that aren’t going my way and greedily gazed upon all the supposed yeses raining down for everyone else. As you might imagine, that has worked out ever so well. Self-pity and envy are lovely pits in which to dwell.

But God.

He motivates us with grace and kindness instead of condemnation. {Dear Marian, make note of this as a wife and mother.}

And the sum total of so much rapid-fire grace has tendered my weary soul to receive the many yeses masquerading as no’s.

  • Yes to his perfectly-timed outcomes and not my shortsighted plan.
  • Yes to a cultivation of patience and perseverance, painful thought this process is.
  • Yes to seeing our people serve as conduits of grace and love to us.
  • Yes to the humbling process of learning to receive when I would so much prefer to be on the giving end.
  • Yes to an acceptance of my weakness and the display of his strength, not mine.
  • Yes to doing battle with the idols of expectation and comfort. Because I need to see them. I do. 
  • Yes to the beauty of redemption that shows up in everything from a washing machine to repentance.
  • Yes to the desperation of intercessory prayer.
  • Yes to the wielding of God’s Word, our only offensive weapon, as if my life depends on it. Because in a way, it does. {And also yes to oatmeal cream pies.}
oat creme pie
  • Yes to what feels like dismal surrender but is actually sweet freedom.
  • Yes to remembering that God works while we rest.

 

Full disclosure. I feel guilty telling you how good and loving and personal The Lord has been to us. That’s because I know there are those of you walking a hard road right now and you feel alone and barren, like there are no gifts or graces or friends to walk alongside you. Please don’t lose faith. God sees you and He is near to you, the brokenhearted. That’s a promise, even though it may feel like a joke.

I’ve suffered alone through the dark nights of the soul, too fearful to let others in. The burden was heavier than I can tell you. Though I became tough and self-sufficient and pridefully independent during those years, the toughness gradually gave way to a tenderness and dependance that remade me from the inside out as I found healing and hope.

In some ways I feel like more of a mess than I was then but it’s an honest mess. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, I emerged from that brokenhearted season a bit more tattered but a lot more real.

Looking back, there were so many mercies and gifts during that dark and solitary time. I simply didn’t have the eyes to see them.

If that feels like where you are, I pray that God will give you eyes to glimpse the graces in your life today, no matter how bleak it looks. And I pray that He will show up in real and personal ways for you and that maybe you’ll have the courage to let someone in.

holding hands beach

I don’t write of these many graces to boast about my own life. Besides, I’d be boasting about nothing but crazy.

I boast of my dear and personal God who does not tire of making Himself real to me, the girl who has always been a skeptic and still is, depending on the moment. I don’t know why He decided to pour out so much good all at once. I wonder why He didn’t ration it out more. But my ways are not his ways. I only know that as I’ve been coming undone and feeling like I’ve reached my limit, He’s been overwhelming me with kindness and propping me up with everyday graces. And also washing machines.

Some of us need more proof than others. Dear God, existence noted.

I also write to challenge all of us with two questions:

What if we began to see every “no” as a “yes?”

And what if we began to see the everyday graces — the ones we receive and the ones we hand out — as sacred life preservers? 

Because I believe they are.

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Comments

  1. Mom says

    Seeing your post made my sleepy eyes pop right open. Reading it made them leak. Again, such honest transparency that points me to such truth.

    LYF

    • Marian says

      Thanks Mom. {I almost forgot that I’d scheduled it to post this morning!} For better or for worse, writing is the road to leads me to Truth. But then you already knew that. : )

  2. says

    Thank you for sharing your ” graces”. Especially the small ones. The ones that give us just enough to get through. I think we all hope to win the races of this life with glory and our hair streaming out behind us, when in reality, we are barely able to army crawl across the finish line and lie there comatose, with our legs still on the not done side of the line. The amazing thing is that such an inglorious finish is perfectly acceptable in God’s eyes. Thank you for being such a wonderful tool for helping people recognize the help The Lord is giving them all day, every day, so they can finish the work He’s given them. You are truly inspiring.
    All the best,
    The Other Marian

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