Some of you would prefer that I not call it "shit." That's a bad word, a dirty word, a swear word. It's offensive and can make people feel uncomfortable. All of which is exactly why I use it. Lets name this stuff for what it is. It's bad, awful even. It's offensive that we should have to put up with it. It's shit. And there's no escaping it.
But some people would like to escape it. They drown their sorrows in alcohol. They hope the shit will just drift away like their cloud of marijuana smoke. They don't like the story they are living so they dive into the stories of others on reality TV shows. Work, raising the kids, sports, church - they are all ways to try to get away. For some, escape is the only way to deal with all the shit.
Others think that it is futile to try to escape the shit. So they wallow in it. It defines them. I've got friends who seem to relish in the drama. It gives them something of significance to live for. But eventually, it just gets old. And all your left with is shit.
As undeniable as "shit happens" is, there is another parallel truth - grace happens. As sure as bad news is to come, so too is good news. For every critical and cranky person, there is one who brings encouragement and help. As dark as the night gets, the morning light always pierces it. Grace happens.
- Sitting next to a lake in twenty minutes of silence, grace happens.
- Watching a group of my friends gather around the communion table together, grace happens.
- Being able to listen to my friends tell their stories without feeling the need to condemn or fix them, grace happens.
- Tossing the football around with my son and seeing him make a great catch, grace happens.
- Belly laughing at one of my daughter's jokes, grace happens.
- Having a quiet glass of wine with my wife at the end of a long day, grace happens.
- Enjoying a good night's sleep, grace happens.
These things are all grace. They are unexpected, undeserved moments that bring me love, peace, and hope. In a world that often feels very shitty, they are gentle and necessary reminders that love wins over hate, peace wins over chaos, and hope wins over despair.
The fundamentalism I grew up in taught me to focus on the negative - other people's mistakes and errors, how the spiral of human history is headed downward. It taught me to focus on all the shit. I'm learning now to focus on grace instead. I just like my life better when I do. Shit happens. But grace happens too.
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How have you seen grace happen in your life?