Webster's defines grace as (noun)
1 a : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification b : a virtue coming from God c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
2a : approval, favor
graces> b archaic : mercy, pardon c : a special favor : privilege grace, shall rule his heritage — Rudyard Kipling> d : disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency e : a temporary exemption : reprieve
Whether we realize or not, we all first learn grace from our mothers; mothers who gave us their all when we had nothing to give back in return. Mothers (and I'm speaking about those who are truly mothers, not just by biology) personify grace not only in terms of discipline matters, but also emotionally. From them we learn to deal with our thoughts and emotions, how to have compassion and love for others and how to go to others for help when we need it. In those beginning years, a child teaches their parent things as well. Children move mothers to seek for God's grace and in turn teach their child. Bottom line....mothers teach us grace by example.
If you are a member of my generation, chances are you either are from a home of divorce/single parent or had someone very close to you that was from one such home. My parents split up when I was around age 13, which is a very pivotal time in a young woman's life. I was always an old soul and mature beyond my years, but no amount of maturity can prepare a young teen for a life of brokeness. I know that the situation was not in my realm of control or responsibilty, but that didn't change its effect on me. I imagine that I've blocked out most of the memories of that time for a reason, but what I do remember is feeling lost.
I was looking for that grace that I'd been taught about at church. Grace was a concept to me at that time, but not a reality. Often times we have to experience something before God can teach us. We humans are quite stubborn...well I am anyway. I fought back at God pretty hard for several years. All throughout those years He granted me the grace I needed though; showing me the whole time how God's grace differs from human grace. I didn't know it at the time, but looking back I can see many times when His divine grace covered my complete stupidity. I was reckless with that grace and I pushed those limits far too often, yet somehow He held me tightly and never left me.
Shortly after high school, I got married, which was no small miracle. I'd said for years that I would never repeat my parents mistakes. *chuckles* I thought that meant that I'd be single for the rest of my life and have children either by adoption or IVF (yes I had a "plan" even then). I won't go into the whole story, but the short version is that after getting married I was suddenly very ill. I went through many doctors, hospital stays, medications, treatments and sadly lost pregnancies before discovering that I had PCOS. PCOS had been with me all along, but I didn't recognize it till it had taken a toll on my body and almost striped me of my sanity. God's grace alone spared my life. There were many times when I was so sick that I wanted to die. I didn't have the drive to even live the life I'd always dreamed about. Depression and illness had me bound.
I was bound until that one day....the one day that God showed me what His grace for me meant. I was delirious with pain and the stress of it all was actually inducing random seizures. Many memories are fuzzy of that time, but I remember this one day plainly. I was laying on my bed and I heard my husband calling my name. He was trying to bring me out of one of my 'spells'. I could hear the fear in his voice, but I couldn't shake the loosing control feeling that swept over me. Miraculously strength came to me out of nowhere and I was able to sit up. My vision had been blurry that day, but suddenly I had clarity in one circular area above the door that led to my bathroom. I don't remember why but my husband went and opened that door. As he joined me at my bedside, my focus went back to that spot on the doorway. Plain as day I saw a very small, child size being peaking around the top of the door. Granted my brain was still coming around from a seizure, I do believe this was a God-inspired moment and the being was in fact an angel. I watched as this little angel came through the doorway. I remember that I felt so loved at that moment. An incredible flood of peace filled my soul and I felt as if I'd been rescued from the middle of the ocean. I never heard anything audible and no the ground didn't shake or light didn't blind me from above. The only thing I saw was a child size angel who smiled at me. The being had light brown shoulder length hair and eyes that sparkled. But oh the smile....the smile was what let me know that God was not finished with me. He had granted me that grace again to make it through this difficulty. This time God allowed me to feel His grace.
To quickly finish this bit of my story, that was the last day I ever had one of those seizures. Shortly after that day, I was able to take control back from the doctors for my healthcare. With God's guidance, I purged my body of the medications that had caused me such harm. Within a year of that day, I was back to the road of recovery, but only because of God's grace. This was nothing that I did. See we don't earn God's grace and we can't replicate it either. No word that I've ever encountered could adequately describe such a grace like God's divine grace.
There's a lot more to my story; more times of joy and many more times of sadness, grief and loss. There are many unknowns in my life. But there's one thing I'm always certain of....God's wonderful undeniable Grace carries me through every moment. When I get caught up in my thoughts and feelings, I need only to think back to the lessons about grace that God has allowed me to live. I pray that you don't have to live out the same sort of life lessons that God has chosen for me, but if you should find yourself deep in the land of no-mercy, I pray that you will recognize this amazing grace we are celebrating at this time of year.
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" 1 Corinthians 15:10 NKJV