And when I had to do a book report on a biography in fifth grade, I selected Kitty, My Rib, a biography on Katherine Luther plucked from my parents bookshelf, which sagged under the weight of volumes on Lutheran doctrine.
We're talking severe Lutheranism.
Which is why it comes as somewhat of a surprise to me that I'm so uncomfortable with grace. Lutherans are first and foremost, grace junkies. It never mattered what the theme of my Sunday school classes were—from David and Goliath to sexual purity—the teachers would always find a way to work in God's grace and the Christian belief that Jesus came to prove that God's love trumped the law, so that not even our raging imperfections could separate us from our unreasonably forgiving God.
Oh, the heart swells! God's grace is intoxicating. How am I so uncomfortable with it?
I don't do well with gifts I don't deserve. The kindnesses of family and friends are always welcome and appreciated, but I always feel that drop of guilt inside . . . that nagging reminder that I haven't really done enough to deserve their generosity.
This is how I dealt with God's grace in the early days of my faith. The constant reminders of his undeserved love had me examining the true extent of my unworthiness. I saw goodness as a dress that God let me borrow. I, myself, was a wretched, crusty beast, but God's grace was a dress that I could put on sometimes to cover up my beastliness, to pretend that I wasn't who I actually was. I felt almost as though goodness was a role God let me play... a lie He let me live, but I think I'm finally beginning to understand what a remarkable gift God's grace actually is.
God's grace—God's goodness—is actually a seed of light within me. I can't escape it, and I can't claim wretchedness anymore, because my sneaky-pants of a higher power went and planted grace in a place where I wouldn't be able to grab it and toss it aside when I'm looking for another round of self-flagellation.
Naturally, I still have streaks of wretchedness. I still have demons to confront and moods to address. I still need his grace, and each day I do something new to prove that I don't deserve it, but it's a relief to finally recognize that His goodness is inside of mean— honest, permanent, and growing testament to who I will one day be in Him.
There are words for what I am . . .
words that describe someone who
shatters connections with her anger,
injures strangers and loved ones alike
as she indulges her selfishness time and again.
There are words for what I am.
But teach me to let them go,
to look within and see You . . .
You with your own words.
Teach me to embrace the new woman
Your presence enables me to be.
Let me celebrate the worth
Your presence gives me,
honoring your perfect grace
by seeing it,
by accepting it,
by living fully aware of You
inside of me.
There is a word for what I am: