Saturday, January 21, 2017
An Awkward Moment Filled With God's Grace
God loves you just the way you are,
yet He refuses to leave you that
way. He wants you to be just like
The snow had piled up until it threatened to bury us. Everywhere we turned there were new and bigger piles of snow. To make matters even more challenging, just as it got warmer and the piles started to melt, we had freezing temperatures that turned the melted snow into unforgiving ice.
The evening news even showed one woman in ice skates skating down what had once been the street in front of her house. Now, it was an ice rink.
The weather teased us from time-to-time with a blue sky and temperatures that begged you to come outdoors and play.
It was on such a "teasing day" that another "life-lesson" crossed my path. Another moment where the Lord God Almighty stopped me in my tracks and gave me the opportunity to grow in Him.
As I looked outdoors and saw the sun sparkling off the ice crystals, I just couldn't help myself. I couldn't stand being indoors one.more.minute.
All of us Spokanites feel a bit claustrophobic since the really cold temps plus freezing rain have kept us indoors more than usual. We are a hardy group of souls. Yes, we are. Perhaps not as hardy as the souls in Minnesota, where my dear friend Vicky Westra lives, yet we are hardy never the less.
It may be ten degrees here, however in Minnesota it is probably 20 degrees below with a wind chill that makes it -40 degrees.
It has felt bit like -40 degrees in my heart. While I am a raving optimist by nature, the past few months have left me a bit weary. That's not entirely true. Really weary. Lots of situations that are absolutely out of my control. And just when I started to regain a bit of my footing, a car backed into my car leaving two doors badly dented.
While the car isn't a brand new one, it is quite new to me. When I took a look at the damage I realized that I felt a bit like those doors. Visible dents and damage.
Now please don't misunderstand. I'm not one who feels compelled to look perfect, yet from time to time it's unnerving to have "my dents" become visible to everyone. Yet I know in those moments of insecurity that God loves me, visible creases and all.
Yet I also know that He loves me too much to leave
me that way.
Now, after that side note about the car, let me get back to that light-shining, hope-filled moment.
On the day I wanted to get outside, I felt particularly "stung" by an interaction that had happened with someone close to me. It was an "ouch" that left me cringing and hurt. It was, as my beloved Bert said, an "updated postcard" on this person.
For several weeks Bert had listened and listened as I processed this hurt. My tears flowed until I wondered if they would ever stop. Finally, my beloved reminded me that the interaction that had left me quaking was more about them than it was about me.
I knew that intellectually, yet my hurt heart had a hard time catching up to that reality.
So on that sunny day where the outdoors called to me, I wanted to go out and work off physically some of the steam of this interaction that hurt my heart. It left me wondering if I could ever be at peace with this individual.
So angst in hand, and bundled up in all things warm except gloves, I grabbed the snow shovel and headed out to our front yard. More accurately, what used to look like our front yard.
In its current state it looks like giant mounds of meringue on top of a lemon meringue pie. You can barely see the ten foot trees for the mounds of snow.
I decided to make a dent in all that snow. I'd move it around a bit so you could see our old familiar bench where we loved to sit in the summer and watch our neighbors walk by. Perhaps if I saw the bench that brought so much comfort in a warmer season, my own hurt heart might warm up too.
And then, as I was digging and throwing snow everywhere, I saw a mail man inching his way carefully down the street. This wasn't our regular mail carrier, the one we loved to exchange "HOWDIES!" with. This must have been a temporary replacement. So I kept on shoveling.
Then I heard it as clear as day. I looked up, startled, hardly believing that he had said it out loud. It felt like he bellowed it, and the sounds reverberated off the slick snow.
"What are you doing shoveling with just one hand?"
he called. I looked up, shocked. I looked around, amazed. Had this complete stranger announced to the world that I only had one hand?
I looked down to gather myself together, said a quick
"Help me Lord!" prayer and looked back up. At this point I was eye ball to eye ball with him as he was standing in our driveway.
Would my reply be tinged with sarcasm or even worse would I give no reply at all? Would I try to ignore the comment and pretend I didn't hear him?
I wanted to respond the way Jesus would respond, and I knew Jesus would be kind in this moment.
I received an answer to my short prayer, and I felt God's love pulse through my heart.
I looked the mail man in the eye, walked over and shook his hand. I smiled and said, "Hi! I'm Linda. Yes, I'm shoveling with one hand. (insert twinkle in my eye here). If I had another, I'd love that but I am making due with the wonderful one hand I've got." Then I smiled and chuckled.
He looked at me and said, "Oh my God, I can't believe I just said that to you. I blurted it out. I'm so sorry. That was so rude of me."
Then, unexpectedly, I leaned toward him and gave his flustered self a quick hug. "No need to be embarrassed," I said. "I love how kids are when they are honest and see my small hand. They tell it like it is too."
And in that moment, that interaction of give and take, of embarrassment and apology, we connected.
Human heart to human heart.
It truly was an awkward moment filled with grace.
Grace for him and grace for me.
After he left, and I continued to shovel snow, I noticed that I felt a lot lighter. I started to hum some of my favorite gospel tunes. The hurt I had carried, that only moments before had felt like a boulder, now felt like a small pebble on the beach.
Thank you God! I felt loved and free.
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