Clinging onto Grace

The Setting

Have you ever been tubing behind a boat? It’s an activity I’ve enjoyed since I was a little kid. Sometimes when I’m hanging on tight and being whipped and thrown in every direction, I wonder why I enjoy it. But every time I end it is like a sense of accomplishment and the next opportunity I have, I come back for me.  Lately life has felt a bit like that. It’s a funny thing when life heads in a different direction than you planned and you grab onto the rope just trying to hang on. It almost feels like I’ve been half on a tube hanging on one handed for the last nine months of my life just trying to keep my head from going below and swallowing a bunch of water. Can anyone else relate?

If the me from nine months ago was looking in on my current life I wouldn’t even have any idea it was my life. The only things that are stable are my furniture, my dog, my cell phone number, and the fact that I remain an oncology nurse. So, I guess, when I reflect on the fact I feel exhausted and a bit wandering, it feels a bit more understandable.

Nine months ago I was dating someone, but knew it was probably about to end. I had absolutely no idea though how the break up would be drug out and get worse and worse as time went on. I had no idea that the duplex I had called home for 3 years would  no longer be my home come July 13th. I had no idea that I was headed from outpatient oncology to inpatient oncology. I had no idea that the women’s group I had been leading and leaning on for 3 years would be going on, but without me there. I had no idea that everything about my day to day life was about to change.

It’s all about grace…

So, as I’ve continued on in this season of learning about and leaning into grace, I’m learning more than ever what it means to give myself grace. As I navigate the somewhat familiar, but not home like streets of Indianapolis. As I learn a whole new job. As I hit speed bump after speed bump in life, or I guess, if we’re still going with the tubing concept, huge wave after huge wave, I’m learning I can’t have it all together. I’m learning that establishing a whole new home, a whole new job, a whole new church, a whole new friend group, and a whole new routine — it is absolutely exhausting.

And as I look around, I realize, we are all exhausted from this thing called life. I wonder how is it that we can help each other by easing the big waves, or providing assistance to help grab the other handle, or how is it we can help slowdown the boat to help each other? How is it that we can help each other to travel along life easier? And I think the answer comes in grace. Letting go of expectations where they should not be, giving people grace when they mess up, and realizing that we need to lean into the grace provided from up above.

Grace — I’m clinging onto you with every weary bone in my body. Trusting that this crazy tubing ride like life will at some point slow to a comforting float, but until that season, I’ll cling to grace.

2017 – The Year of Grace

2017. What can I say? You were everything I didn’t expect you to be. I was excited for you. I saw boundless potential in you. I had ideas of how the year would unfold. And here I am, on the other side of you, looking back and saying “see ya later and please don’t come back.”

You started off well. I was getting comfortable in my new role at work. Life felt comfortable and I had people around me I called family. I was dating someone and it seemed to be going well. I wasn’t the new person anywhere for the first time in a really long time. I loved my church and my small group. I even got to go on a vacation for the first time in about 3 years. So when my word of the year “grace” was revealed to me, I thought, oh, maybe God is giving me grace this year in the form of an easier time than how my normal life goes.

“The reality of loving God is loving him like he’s a Superhero who actually saved you from stuff rather than a Santa Claus who merely gave you some stuff.” 
― Criss JamiKillosophy

Come March and beyond, and my life quickly went crashing in. To name a few things… My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, my dog almost died from a GI bleed, the guy I was dating turned out to be an absolute jerk, my sister went into early labor (thankfully it was able to be stopped), relationships in my life I thought were fine exploded in my face, my brother had a stroke, and God made it absolutely clear I was to leave my comfortable life in Illinois, take a pay cut, and move back to Indiana (that sounds exactly like what someone would want to do, right?). Following that move between the address change issues, the insane amount of time it took to get my title transferred, working way more hours than I was before, no longer having my support system, moving expenses that seemed to be endless on top of taking a pay cut, and dealing with a mouse issue in my apartment for the last month — I’m exhausted.

“When life doesn’t meet your expectations, it was important to take it with grace.” 
― Patricia BriggsWhen Demons Walk

I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss Illinois. I do, I miss it, the people, and the familiarity with every fiber of my being. However, I would also be lying if I said I felt like I heard God wrong about moving back to Indiana. It was one of those situations where God spoke so clearly, I cannot even in my weakest faith moments, doubt this is what He asked of me. Isn’t that the hardest thing when you’re in the middle of some place you don’t necessarily want to be —Knowing God has you exactly where He wants you. That you are wrapped fully in His grace, even amidst the chaos.

“Grace is what picks me up and lifts my wings high above and I fly! Grace always conquers! Be graceful in everything; in anger, in sadness, in joy, in kindness, in unkindness, retain grace with you!”
― C. JoyBell C.

So as I review what I’ve learned in 2017, I’m honestly overwhelmed. I’ve learned a lot, much of which I didn’t want to learn, but needed to learn. And I have such a deeper understanding of that grace that took place on the cross. I’ve learned that I can’t be so hard on myself (it’s funny how giving yourself a little grace in rough patches is much better than being hard on yourself). I’ve learned that a lot of times on the other side of a what seems like good is great, even better than I imagined (especially in the world of dating). I’ve learned what it means to be stripped of all the comfort and feel like you’re standing naked, in the crowd, just waiting for the tomatoes to keep flying at you. And I’ve learned that on the other side of a very, very tough year, I can still be thankful for that year, but never want to live it again. Lastly, I have learned that I am capable, brave, significant, and strong even when I feel like I am absolutely not.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
― AnonymousHoly Bible: New International Version

So, as I round out the final days of 2017 I enter 2018 with a different mindset. One that is full of a heart that is open to whatever it is God may have for me. One that is open to this new life He has for me in a place different than where I pictured ending 2017. I trust that the Creator of the universe still holds my future in His hands. And I trust that whatever word He has for me this next year will teach me everything I don’t expect it to. But isn’t that the greatest thing about serving a God that is larger than life, knowing He has something unimaginable in store?

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