Outside of Karma
Thinking about grace lately—the biblical kind—but also how that grace translates into my interactions with people—kids and husband included. The words of the U2 song, posted partially here, deeply move me. They make me want to be this person.
She takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name …
Grace finds goodness in everything …
She’s got the time to talk
She travels outside of karma …
Grace, she carries a world on her hips
No champagne flute for her lips …
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things
Grace makes beauty out of ugly things
(“Grace,” copyright 2000, Polygram International Music Publ. B.V., on album All That You Can’t Leave Behind, by U2; Interscope Records.)
This song causes me to ask myself essentially whether I’m a person, and a mom, of grace.
Unfortunately my kids too often get the short end of the stick with this. At the end of a long day when I’ve had it up to here and they are disobeying and whining and being kids, my words become clipped and commanding. My fuse becomes short. I see childishness and playfulness as disobedience. I am in survival mode—certainly not “quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry” mode (James 1:19), certainly not “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8).
Another big “aha” was that all this time, I’ve been thinking that “charitable judgments”—a term I’ll borrow to describe giving someone the benefit of the doubt, or what some of you will just call “class” or “graciousness”—were something good to have in relationships. True. But not all the way. I’ve been on the other end of some very painful not-so-charitable judgments, as I’m sure you have, and in turn made my own. I now believe that charitable judgment—in a word, grace—is actually essential to every one of my relationships. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Always. As in whether some goofball cuts in front of me in traffic when I’ve got my kids in the car, or I hear some nasty news about someone, or someone talks to me in a way that hurts me. Or when I’m the goofball in traffic, the one in the rumor mill, or the one talking insensitively.
I’ve also thought about this lately as I deal with hurt with other adults—hurt I’ve encountered and hurt I unfortunately dole out. I’m learning experientially that grace is not pretending that wrong isn’t there; it’s not the absence of justice. On the contrary, it starts with forgiveness, where the person who didn’t do the wrong absorbs its consequences (think of the priest looking the sin sacrifice in the eyes before taking its life—or like a debt that’s been made. Someone has to pay it).
Then grace takes forgiveness further by actually returning an insult with a blessing, as Christ did for me. Whoa. That alone will keep me busy until I die. I can understand why “he who has been forgiven much loves much.” Hope I can experience the giving of that grace as much as I do the receiving.
What about you? I’d genuinely enjoy learning about how grace in your relationships changes you.