I find that I have the most trouble extending grace to those who I live with. That troubles me. It upsets me. If I’m to be a blogger about grace and yet can’t show my husband grace on a consistent basis….what the heck am I doing blogging?
The kids have all moved out and Salsa guy and I are empty nesters and I’m thinking this is the time we’re going to cherish together – rediscovering one another. I mean, I’ve got a pretty great reputation around these parts of being a kind and gracious woman of God, offering grace to those around me as if I were spreading bread crumbs to the ducks at the lake. But the problem is….my husband doesn’t necessarily think I’m full of grace. In fact, he thinks I’m critical and unyielding. What?….me critical? But everyone else thinks I’m great! What’s wrong with that picture? It baffles me, and I’ve tried to balance being honest and being full of grace at home. But sometimes the wheels fall off and I wonder if its just one of those things. “It is what it is”.
You hear that phrase a lot these days. “It is what it is”. I think it means that we’ve tried but nothing has changed and it seems that there’s just nothing we can do about whatever situation we’re in. “It” is just how it is and “it’s” not going to change. But is that always the way it has to be? Here’s another way to put it….the truth of who we are (the ugliness) before the ugliness encounters grace = “what it is”.
So here is what is bothering me…..I’m really good at showing grace to those around me that I don’t share a roof with. The people who try my patience. The people who try to manipulate me. The people who aren’t genuine and feel entitled. The people who need attention and do things to get it. The people (Christians specifically) who talk about God and yet they don’t “get grace” yet. I’m patting myself on the back as I write this. I think I’m pretty darn amazing. But the truth of the matter is that once I walk through the door of my own house things can quickly go downhill and the man I love the most can test my patience and tolerance and the threads of grace come unraveled at a frightening pace. This drives me crazy and I feel a bit of a fraud. It saddens me and tugs at my heart. Why can I be so good at showing grace to those in my world that I bump into, and yet the one who knows me the most intimately doesn’t see the grace in me that I’m blogging about. What is wrong with that? I plan on getting to the bottom of this!
What I’m learning is that the hardest people to be gracious to are my family – especially Salsa guy. The more I know about people the harder it is for me to give them the benefit of the doubt. If you’re a perfect stranger, I can be kinder to you than I am to my husband. You can be mean and ugly in a particular situation and I can say “bless their heart…they must have had a bad day”. However, if you’re Salsa guy then I’m thinking you’re being selfish and self-centered. If you’re in need, I’ll be the hands and feet of Jesus and spend all the time you need to mentor you, encourage you….but if you’re Salsa guy I’ll think you’re needy and childish and you need to grow up. If you’re trying to manipulate me and I see through you, I’ll still put my arms around you and take it, knowing that you’re a work in progress and on a journey with God, but if you’re Salsa guy I’ll roll my eyes and call you on it. When it’s my husband I don’t want to give him the benefit of the doubt because he doesn’t deserve it. I know the truth about him! The truth of the matter is that the more truth I have on you the less I’m able to offer you grace.
No one can send me into a tizzy faster than Salsa guy. I see what you’re trying to do! You’re trying to trick me and change the subject. You’re trying to take the heat off of you and send it back on me. How did you do that? We were talking about flawed you and now we’re talking about perfect me. It works every time. How did he do that? Then doubt and shame and confusion seep in and I have no idea what we were talking about in the first place before I wanted to drop kick you into the Pacific Ocean.
Have you ever had this happen to you?…..someone comes up to you and comments about how great your kids are, or how wonderful your wife is, or what a blessing your mother is to them….and you’re thinking “REALLY?” Are you talking about MY kids? You can’t be talking about my wife…the one who is nagging me to clean out the garage. What? My mom?….the one who is always making me feel like I’m not good enough with her criticism. The dirty details and the behind the scenes stuff comes to the forefront of our mind because the more facts we know about the people we live / lived with, the more frustrated we can get with them. The bottom line is that we’re really good at being full of grace when we don’t know the truth about you.
When I see my husband’s sin and I feel I need to be truthful with him, I’m much better at being truthful than I am at showing grace. My tact and wisdom in timing my words might not always be perfect. On the other hand, when I’m really plugged in to the Holy Spirit and I’m doing really well at showing him grace, then I’m not good at being truthful with him. Ugh. It’s a vicious cycle. I tend toward being one or the other. When I’m really on my A game and I’m really doing a great job at balancing 50% grace and 50% truth with Salsa guy…he thinks that I’m a pretty fabulous wife and we get along great. But that’s not how it’s supposed to be. I’d really like it if I weren’t balancing 50/50 between grace and truth. I’m supposed to be 100% grace and 100% truth – both at the same time.
The journey I’m on is learning to do both really well at the same time. The only person I know who is really great at doing both at the same time is Jesus. He knows the wretchedness of my heart. He knows everything about me, yet he extends grace to me. He knows what I’ve done, what I’m doing, what I’m gonna do, and has all the dirt on me and yet He still says “I like you! Let’s hang out. We’ll work on things together.” Always extending His grace to me, and working with me to be a changed person despite the conniving, manipulating, selfish, peculiar self that I can be. He sees the fraud that I am, but He functions FULL of both grace and truth as he walks alongside me, transforming me day-by-day. AMAZING! That’s grace.
Is there a way to live in community within our marriage, our churches, our schools, our neighborhoods more relationally – showing grace and truth at the same time? At no time in Jesus’ life were grace and truth “balanced”…. they were just married and worked together perfectly at the same time at 100% all the time. If He can see right through our distractions and our manipulation and still offers us grace, is it possible for me to discover that for myself? Or is this just one of those “it is what it is” things that will never change?
Here’s what I’m learning about change: It doesn’t have to be “what it is”. I CAN be different. It may take time and effort, but as I study grace and learn from it, it can change to “what it can be” . HA! That is AMAZING! That’s the kind of person I want to be. Transformed by Jesus. Full of grace AND full of truth. A “what he can be” wife. I want to see past the truth about him and see who and what he can be (righteous and holy) and “take it” and love him and give him the benefit of the doubt and see him as God sees him….what he can be. Every life is transformable.
That’s my goal for the coming months. Salsa guy may not be who he should be….but I’m not either. But he also isn’t who he used to be and he’s changing and this is part of his journey with Christ. It’s a process for him and part of his journey. Where Salsa guy is right now is not where he’s going to end up. He’s growing. So am I.
There you have it. Truth and grace…married 100% together. And grace to Salsa guy. All the time. It’s no longer “It is what it is”….but it’s now “It is what it can be”.