Thursday, September 22, 2011

Grace on a Thursday: in Alyss' words

Happy Thursday, everyone. I am pleased to host Alyss today, formerly from Oh What a Day it is Today, and now from r o o t s! You should check out her blog, because she is adorable and really stinkin' funny. She also has rad music spinnin' in her corner of the blogosphere. But mostly, I love the way she shares about her life and loves with truth, passion, and humor. Here's her take on grace today. Thank you, Alyss, for your vulnerability and example to us all to pursue grace with humble courage.

Two truths and a lie:
1. I am a homebody.
2. I am obsessed with my son's face.
3. I never procrastinate.

Number three up there? Get out of here with your lies. While everything is always finished on time, it is rarely finished early. Needless to say, it is 10:30pm on Wednesday night and I am just now finishing up this post. Leslie asked me to write on the subject of grace two weeks ago. It's taken me this long to finally succumb to what I feel I should open up about.

Two weeks ago, reading the word "grace" in Leslie's email sent whispers to my heart from the Lord. Whispers of how I needed to face issues that I have long put on the back burner. For years, I have struggled to give grace to someone who has hurt me immensely. It has held back my ability to completely forgive. It has prevented peace. It does not made my Lord glad.

The person I'm referring to is my mother-in-law. Out of respect for our family, I'll refrain from regaling you with all the details of what has led us to where we are now in our relationship. A quick point of reference is that it all began with the splitting of my husband's parents. After 20 something years of marriage, it fell apart.

Nothing, and I mean, nothing has been the same.

We rarely see my father-in-law since his remarriage. All bridges have been burned between my mother-in-law and the rest of the family. Rumors, gossip, lies, and distaste for one other have spoiled that side of the family's relationships. And in the midst of it all, I blamed her. For years, I struggled with being okay with the divorce. I struggled with the remarriages. I struggled with how to even talk to my mother-in-law, let alone sit in a room with her without acting completely awkward.

I have never really had the experience of rebuilding relationships that had weathered such storms. I guess my feelings for her were made pretty clear by my lack of enthusiasm and apathy towards her presence.

What came next were countless hurtful emails to my husband about my character, conversations with my brother-in-law concerning my "coldness", and then finally, WWIII. A full on blowout between the two of us. That happened, and then the issue froze. It became quiet. I have not touched the issue since. My brain has told my heart to shut its trap and "be over it already". But it is ever present. Daily, I can see it just out of the corner of my eye.

Have you ever felt so completely wronged and unjustly accused that forgiveness for those who have embittered you seems unfathomable?

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Luke 23:34

How is it that my Jesus in Heaven is able to forgive all humankind for savagely nailing His innocent hands and feet to a cross while I cannot give grace to my mother-in-law for, essentially, hurting my pride?

How is it that I receive God's grace moment upon moment, yet I cannot soften my heart to extend that grace for one moment to my mother-in-law?

Grace, that which is unmerited favor.
Grace, that which is the giving of good to the undeserving.
Grace, that which pardons.
Grace, that which opens the heart to forgiveness.

This post doesn't come wrapped up in a brown paper package tied up with string. It's messy and ripped open with packing peanuts strewn about. I don't feel that I will ever get the apology or "I was right" gratification that my selfish heart so desires. I don't want to deal with it. I don't want to be the first one to give grace. I don't want to forgive until I feel righted.

Unmerited favor.

Did Jesus wait until the crowds fell to their knees in repentance before proclaiming...

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Luke 23:34

If only I could be more Christ-like.

I dream of mending this relationship, and I dream of the "good ol' days" when the bridges were intact. My sinful heart finds it so far-fetched, but I know that my God is one who delights in the joys of his children loving on each other. I know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Granting grace to my mother-in-law just so happens to be one of those things.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, God knows I can...

Here is my prayer:

Lord, soften my heart.
Give me your eyes in this situation.
Put in my the desire to mend what is broken.
Stir in me an unconditional love for those who have hurt me.
Thank you for granting grace when I least deserve it.
Oh, Lord, teach me to do the same.


  1. Oh wow. This is a good one. I can completely relate. Very convicting and inspiring. Thank you alyss.

  2. Alyss, this is so open and honest. I love that you are letting God soften your heart. Hugs!

  3. I have to remind myself of Galatians 5:22 every time I start wondering why my spirit is in pain. Usually, one of those virtues listed is being neglected, and I don't always realize it until it's weighing me down. Thank you so much for sharing. I love this post.

  4. It must have been so painful for your husband. I have witnessed my husband's ability to forgive, and opened my heart to his example. His parent's divorce after a short marriage placed him and one brother in an orphanage, while she kept a third. Their father took them to be with him and his new wife, who abused them and the state put them in another orphanage before their adoption into a heart-broken family as replacement for a lost son. He loved and physically cared for them all, except his father who died before we discovered his birth family. I've witnessed holding on to hurts wear us down. God's grace lifts us toward Him and is available for our use.

  5. SO what I needed to read right now. Our God is awesome