Grace Enough

prayers

Stupid words. Even before I say them, I know I'll regret them, but I speak nonetheless, breathing contempt recklessly through the scalding steam of my coffee. My friend in the chair across from me is taken aback and I cringe inside, cowering from the echoes already jangling through me. Why on earth would I say something like that? I didn't even mean it! I want nothing more than to turn back time.

Fear descends on the awkward silence that follows. What if the person I just spoke against is sitting right here? I glance around the coffeeshop and breathe easier, seeing no familiar face, but paranoia quickly invades my thoughts again. What if that woman sitting beside us knows him? What if she's his aunt and she's going to phone him up about this as soon as I get home? What if that barista knows him? Heck, what if my friend is secretly recording this conversation and streaming it live as we speak? It's a case of the robber thinking that everyone else is a robber too—when you betray someone's trust, your own trust takes a blow.

And when you wound someone with your speech, you feel the wounds tenfold. For days, I gingerly roll those words around in my heart, feel them leave fresh scars every time I replay them. By the time the week winds down to Saturday night, church night, I'm in a state of perpetual distraction. The worship songs start and I mouth along to the words, but my mind keeps circling back to that coffeeshop date, to those careless words, to the person whom I hurt without him even knowing it.

I want nothing more than to turn back time.

So I do. I think back to one cloudy recess in first grade, when I was standing in queue at the top of the play structure and waiting for my turn down the slide. As I watched one boy make his way to the bottom of the slide and walk below me back to the ladder, I picked up some of the sand that had piled up on the wooden platform. Then, for reasons I'll probably never understand, I discreetly but with great precision threw the sand down onto his head. He climbed up with a miserable look on his face, angrily brushing his hands through his hair and demanding to know who had thrown the sand. Feigning innocence, I hastily made my escape down the slide.

I'd bet anything that this boy, now in his twenties, doesn't remember this episode, but I remember it well enough for the both of us. I remember the intense guilt that my six-year-old self carried for weeks, and I remember accidentally bumping into him at the grocery store a few months later. Although he still had no idea that I was the culprit (and had probably forgotten the incident anyway), I was so ashamed that I literally couldn't bring myself to look him in the eyes. I said hello while staring at my sneakers.

It all seems so familiar. Today, just like then, I still find myself doing stupid things and spending weeks awash in remorse. How little has changed—I throw words like I threw sand.

But I come before before a God who didn't throw a stone. And that changes everything.

So I teach myself a new refrain. Each time I feel the guilt crawl through my thoughts, I answer, there is grace enough. There is grace enough for stupid words and loveless acts and bad examples. No, I have no right to slander someone over a coffee at Starbucks, but my only remedy is grace. My only escape from the mistakes lies in God, in his spirit, in his indwelling. And yet, just as that shame kept me from coming to him in worship, when I'm racked with guilt, I can't enter his presence—guilt bars me from reaching for the very thing I need.

And it reminds me.

Of a time years ago when I was so clothed in shame that I couldn't bear to look at God, when my guilt made a divide between us that stretched as far as heaven is from hell. But there was grace enough for all my mistakes, grace dressed in scars and crowned with thorns and nailed to a tree for my freedom's sake. And I will walk the path I've walked before, retrace the route from repentance to liberation, rediscover the power of his forgiveness.

How little has changed. Each day, I need the gospel just as much as I needed it the last.

And each day, like manna, the promise falls softly to the ground: there is grace enough still.

3 comments:

Cheerio said...

This is an encouraging post - to seek forgiveness and to relate to struggles! sooo thankful for forgiveness!

Leaving Through the Window said...

This has been really a challenge for me as well... it never used to be, until I realized a little while back that there are some things I say about people that I wouldn't want them saying about me.. then I realized sometimes I say things that aren't really bringing people down but aren't lifting them up either.. I'm glad you wrote about this - super encouraging! Sometimes it's really hard to grasp that there really is grace enough.. thank the Lord there is!

Bradi Wells said...

I want to say I like this... but I think I what I mean by that is I feel this, the words and the meaning.

Thanks for sharing.


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I'm Oksana—Communication major, shutterbug, occasional blogger, incessant doodler, graphic design geek, and writer of sentimental prose. I am quite content to spend an afternoon with a pencil, a few blank Moleskine pages, and a playlist of indie folk. I love musical theatre, black-&-white movies, and Eastern European illustration. Conversations with strangers make my day. When it rains, I make a beeline for my mug of green tea and stack of 19th-century fiction. I'm vegetarian about 98% of the time. I'm extremely awkward and rather nerdy. I love the sea. My name means 'hosanna' and I'm having the time of my life living to praise the One who set me free.

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