I watched those dull, questioning eyes see my son. In a flicker there was curiosity, perhaps confusion. But to me it seemed harsher than curiosity, more intense then confusion and frankly, downright rude. My mind catapulted forward—condemnation, judgment, harshness—descriptions, labels I immediately tacked on to that gaze. And then I felt it stir, rippling deep in my soul. Like a rusty engine revving up…the awakening of the momma bear.
I knew it was there, I knew just the spot it resided on my heart. I suppose every mom knows; this fierceness, these emotional arms of protection inside of you that sweep over your little babe, the desire to be a shield, to take on the weight of the world so that that little one remains safe—physically safe, emotionally safe. And I had been afraid of this; afraid of just this scenario after starting that precious journey of processing my babies’ diagnosis all those months ago…that look.
I knew someone someday would give him one, and I knew just how my heart would respond. I had been purposeful that day to not hide his legs in a blanket or footsie pants, something I was feeling more and more comfortable with, dressing him with intention. I am not ashamed of my sweet boy, but I had wanted to avoid the gaze and to a certain extent–the potential attack of the momma bear.
I felt the momma bear awakening, rolling in….bigger, more intense like a rising tide amid a foreboding storm. I could feel myself getting bigger, rising up. Now I’m not a big person, clearly. Nor do I have any knowledge of karate. But in that moment, momma bear awakened…well, I wanted to take that lady down. We were in REI and I was feeling, well perhaps bolstered by all the hiking backpacks and bazillion socks that make you invincible in any sport you choose to do. The blood coursing through my veins was screaming, ” you got a problem lady?” and ” what, we’re you raised by wolves or something”.
Then it happened, the whispering in my soul…give her grace.
Grace? Are you flipping kidding me…Grace? Oh I’ll give her something…right between the eyes. Grace. Give her grace. I deflated, momma bear slunk back into the crevice home in my heart, shoulders sank and my grip on my greatest blessing tightened. Give her grace.
Now there does not reside great mountains of philosophy in my soul, I’m not the wisest, most knowledgeable. I’m not the most articulate or educated but I am naturally curious and I have attempts at mustard seed faith that float me through these hurdles of life…pulling me along and not letting go. Give her grace. And I realized I didn’t know exactly what that meant. But what I knew instantly was that grace was bigger, better than a pop in the nose. She didn’t deserve grace. But then neither did I.
Grace…unmerited favor, undeserved love and goodness. The “it” word in Christian faith but probably the most misunderstood…you see we use that word to mean different things…a prayer before dinner or “grace periods” with new jobs or bills. I mustered a crooked smile, gazed back at that lady so she knew I saw her, then turned and walked the other way down the aisle. Give her grace. What is grace?
Whenever I’m in a “make you feel small place”—you know them, they fill our national parks, the slopes of tall mountains, for me the rolling plains of middle of nowhere America or Giraffe dotted Rwanda…I can feel it…that grace, it’s even bigger than this. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Or Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
For me it’s mimicking what has already been done for me, emulating my Lord, His sacrifice for an undeserving commoner like myself. I could spend a thousand years attempting to understand grace and I wouldn’t have even scratched the surface. Grace is wider than the oceans, higher than the highest of heavens…it’s all encompassing and when it fills you even a smidgen full, it allows you to look an undeserving lady in the face and give her a smile rather than a pop in the nose. Thank God for grace. I want more of it and it makes me wonder. What if we went through our day like this, giving grace out freely to all those undeserving folks we encounter daily…the rude drivers squeezing there way in front of us to make it just one more car length ahead, those impatient, snappy people in line at the grocery store. Those outspoken souls that grate against our more noble sensibilities. What if we lived life giving grace out more freely…well I think it might just change things or better yet, us. Give her grace.
2 Timothy 2:1 “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”