Above the front window in my living room hangs this sign . . .
Eucharisteo: a Greek word meaning grace and joy
I need this reminder every day that this is something worth pursuing. This is what the end goal is . . . grace, grace and more grace. I walk a fine line so often . . . I want life to be nice, normalized and consistently peaceful. Yet, I know in my heart that I wasn’t created for safe, normal and nice. Furthermore, is that even real? Perception is a tricky thing. How many people do we know whose lives look so nice and normal while they suffer in silence from loneliness, depression, fear or a handful of other monsters only they can see?
I prefer to go eye to eye with my monsters. I have to admit, I have come to a place where messy is life as I know it, and I better just learn to embrace it because the opposite is just a ruse. Would I really choose a clearly mapped out life with nothing special over an adventure with twists and turns and excitement? Would I really choose a sterilized, clean life over a beautiful mess? Would I really choose to go back to being that good girl again who looked like she had it all together while she suffered in silence?
I sit now on an old, beat up couch in a house full of hand me down furniture. My carpet is horribly stained. I can see dust bunnies make dust families on the corners. My decor is at best, haphazard. And yeah, I wish it wasn’t so messy, but even at its cleanest, it isn’t nice. It’s just our home where we actually, really live. And we don’t seem to know any other way but this. And I see all the things in my life right now that cause me stress to the point that my neck is a bundle of knots. I get mad because there are cisrcumstances beyond my control that make it feel like I’m taking 5 steps backwards in my pursuit of NOT being a poor, single mom forever.
And then I see that sign . . . Eucharisteo. Grace and Joy. I learned some two years ago about it from Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand GIfts. Her story changed mine. As I struggled to find joy in the midst of searing loss and debilitating pain, I learned thanks. I learned to open my dull eyes and SEE the gifts. So I see Eucharisteo, and I remember to see the beauty in the mess, the what I’ve been gifted with instead of the what I wants or what I wish I hads. Sigh. Yes it really is that simple because it all leads back to grace.
Grace causes me to sift through the junk to see the glory shining behind those thunderheads, which we might call a silver lining. No, it’s grace. Grace that I get to breathe, to hold my children, to enjoy my favorite coffee, to dance the bachata, to laugh until I cry, to enjoy a run, to connect, to be infatuated, to dare to dream, to risk and live and love. None of it is possible without grace.
And as I embark on another Joy Dare, the gifts pile up in my heart and the obstacles really don’t look any smaller to me, but I can see that HE HAS THIS. Nothing can separate me from His love – not divorce, nor singleparenthood, nor poverty nor bouts of lonliness or fear nor mistakes or self loathing . . . He’s engraved me on the palm of His hand. (Romans 8:38-39; Isaiah 49:16) Seeing these gifts so underserved helps me to remember that I serve a very big God who doles out very real grace, and I have no reason to fear and every reason to live fully.
Living fully doesn’t mean cowering down when life pummels us like an Okalhoma springtime hail storm. It means gripping the hand of the one whose palm your name’s engraved on a little tighter, taking a deep breath and saying, “Ok, thank you.”