We’ve decided to open the Poetry/Creative Writing section under the God Narratives Project with this beautiful piece by Elo. I’m so drawn to how apt and raw this account of experiencing God’s grace is. Read and perhaps find the same solace I did in these words; in knowing this scandalous grace is for all of us.
The Confrontational Nature of Grace
After feeling an awkward sense of responsibility to accommodate the new weight my heart has gained over the last few weeks/months, I finally sat down to analyze the events that had preceded this current joy.
It wasn’t long after I’d begun recounting and recollecting events – pen in hand and book on table – that my blessings found my hand.
On my list was a miracle that God had just recently, clearly orchestrated in my favor.
Then there was my getting baptized two weeks ago and the re-realization of the grace that makes salvation possible.
Right under it was how blessed I’ve been feeling recently because of the love God is showing me through my friends, my family and strangers.
Following that was the startling recognition that obeying and following God is no longer an option for me. That I’ve finally gotten to the place I’d been praying for for months:
That place where following God would literally be the core of my entire life.
So, picture me:
Here at my table and utterly dumbfounded by how much God moves for me, even when I’m not paying attention.
My heart is full of joy and peace when it hits me that the reason I feel so awkwardly different these days is this:
for the first time in a long time, I’m empty. And this is a different kind of empty; one that I’m embarrassingly unfamiliar with.
I’m not empty in the way that I knew or the way that I’m used to.
I’m empty in a way that calls me back to (re-)settling. In a manner that is both loving and evidently purposeful.
This is not the fake-a-smile-when-everyone-is-looking-and-then-come-back-home-to-your-real-life-and-feel-inadequate empty. I know that one.
I’m empty in an
I shook my soul upside down and found no pieces left there to bruise me
type of way.
Evidently, there is still the occasional dissatisfaction or the impatience or fleeting sadness/irritation/upset. There’s also still the battle to continually dethrone myself as god over my own life and give God His rightful place as king.
That’s all true.
But these days, there is no noise in my becoming.
In its place, there is a scarily comforting silence on the inside of me.
… And this is what has been unsettling me.
My revelation in that moment was thus, this:
It happens often that our actions are akin to shaking water into the corners of our mouths and telling it to
because we want its extinguishing of our thirst to go unnoticed.
In the same way, I was once that person who drew God in at the heart and asked Him to “hide, hide.”
Hide where He could not heal me. Hide where He could not hear me. Hide where He could not see me.
And what was my reason?
I wanted His presence to be bearable enough for me. If He chose to heal me, to un-scar me, to teach me, I’d let Him, under one condition.
i.e let it be so unradical that even I could still look at myself and not notice it.
Just don’t change me beyond recognition.
But let’s pull these thoughts back to the now.
Here, there’s me:
Woman. Adult. Lover of God. Friend. Sister. Aunty. Daughter.
Overwhelmingly loved and appreciated. At peace. Growing. Passionate. Writer.
I have been changed dramatically. I have been changed beyond recognition.
This me, is the best me I have ever known.
Mmmm. God really never belonged in the box I tried to put Him in. In my restraining Him, I had obviously only stifled myself.
I am genuinely thankful that I know better than that now. I am.
What is the appropriate response then?
Yes. You’re right.
But how am I really feeling underneath that?
I’m… dumbfounded. Perplexed. Confused.
Yes, ashamed at how there is no visible effort of mine in this woman I’ve become/who I’m becoming.
I’ve invested nothing. And not only that, but if I’m to be honest, I’ve done nothing but cry and fall apart. I’ve done nothing but worship. But surrender. So, someone else did this. Something else happened. It’s not me. It’s not me. It’s Him.
This is me.
I’m writing this from my bed today, exceedingly glad that I can look at that moment in hindsight. Because now I can ask myself – and you – this very mind-boggling question:
Who really knew that one would eventually succeed at handing all their shame over to God and still feel obliged to be ashamed of not being ashamed?
I am, at times, guilty of masking my wholeness for the fear of being seduced back to the destructive pleasure that goes hand in hand with incompletion.
I am, other times, guilty of re-digging the foundation upon which I’ve been asked to build, in search of reasons to keep digging.
I am guilty, some other times. Simple.
But right now, I am not incomplete. I am not bruised and battered and broken and shame-full and stained.
I am not healing painfully. I am not ripping at the seams. I am not coming apart. I am healed. I have ripped. I have come apart. I have broken. I have been bruised.
But now I am…
Now, there is water in my hands. There is flavour on my tongue. There is water. There is flavour. There is water. There is flavour.
There are still days, I am sure, when I will look at this blessing and be deceived into thinking that to not lack something on the inside is to not genuinely be myself.
But I hope that even then, Grace would be kind enough to reintroduce herself to me. So that I may not only be reminded that what is eternal is also (thankfully) unearned, but also that in my humble acceptance of that, there is worship.
***Thanks so much to Elo for sharing this piece! For updates on her writing/blog(s), follow her @EloOsunde.
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