Sunday, November 11, 2007

Stumbling with Grace

I've never been one to stumble gracefully. I've never been one of those women who can get a little tripped up, catch it, and make my faux pas look like I have a little dance in my step. Always and forever, I have had the opposite of grace. When I stumble, it's a big production.

One day, while in a store paking lot, I had one of those very non-graceful stumbles. Gracie was toddler-sized and I had just taken her out of her car seat and hoisted her onto my hip. As we headed into the store, James looked back and forth on the parking lot road to ensure it was clear, and we began to cross between cars and onto a sidewalk. James crossed ahead of me, and I began to stumble right behind him. I still to this day do not know what happened. There was nothing on the ground to cause me to stumble -- not a hole, not a rock, not an animal -- nothing. One moment, I had my balance, the next moment, I more than did not.

I knew I was going down with this one, so I began calling him to catch Gracie. The storefront was covered with windows and there were lots of people inside. As I cried out, "James, James, James," all the people in the store looked out. Great. I stumbled a little this way, I swayed back a little that way, I tripped some here and there. James followed along with me, arms outstretched, trying to catch our daughter.

Though I was falling, I continued to move forward. I will likely never say this again, but that day I was fortunate to have a parked El Dorado break my fall (though it ricocheted me another parked something or other that was equally big and painful). That bouncing beween cars gave me just enough control to do some crazy piroutte and swing Baby Grace off my hip and into the air just before I began sliding across the asphalt and slamming into the sidewalk edge. (Clarification: I didn't throw her, I was just holding her away from my body, which was going down.) Once I came to a full and complete stop on my skin-covered runway, James took the baby and sat on the ground with me as I cried.

Now for the really stupid part: I had just publicly stumbled across a big parking lot. It was loud, it was messy, and everyone saw me do it. I was lying on the ground in a pained heap with holes in my pants and shoes filled with blood. I also thought I might have broken my kneecap. Crazy me -- instead of going to the hospital, or at the very least, going home, I picked myself up and went shopping. With holey pants and bloody shoes, limping and crying, I went shopping, refusing to acknowledge that anything had just happened.

Don't get me wrong, I love shopping as much or more than the rest, but this blood-covered shopping excursion was crazy. At that moment, moving on, or pretending I was able to, was more important than getting well.

"Your words have been arrogant against Me," says the LORD. "Yet you say, 'What have we spoken against You?'"

"You have said, 'It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the LORD of hosts? So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape.'"

Malachi 3:13-15

Both privately and publicly, I have both asked this question and made these complaints. I have both wondered aloud and inside what good it is to serve God when people who don't want them or people who will hurt them are able to have babies right and left. I have questioned God about showing up for His beloved. "After all I've done, after all I do, after all I blah, blah, blah..." Oh my.

I have just publicly stumbled across a spiritual parking lot. Once again, without grace. Procreation is absolutely not the reason I serve God. My inability, therefore, should not be the reason for which I call Him into question. Publicly, I have sinned, and publicly now, I repent, both to God, and to you.

I think actively working through the grief, along with asking "What now?" to move forward, is ok. I think the "Why them, and why not me?" probably is not. God's love is neverending, and his faithfulness is unchallenged, but I wonder if somewhere I have indicated that it falters. It doesn't. In my heart, I know that full well, but in my words I may not reflect that, and for that, I couldn't be more sorry.

You learn alot about someone when you fight -- you learn of their character, their nature, and their numchuck skills. Right now, God and I are fighting. Or rather, wrestling, which is perfectly fine. Jacob wrestled with God, and God blessed him. (He also gave him a limp, but that's a story for another day.) I love God, God loves me, neither one of us are going anywhere, but we have some stuff to work out.

Already our battle has revealed things in my own nature and character that are no good and need transformation. God is scouring out the deep, dark parts of my inmost being. I hope in this continued fighting that I am challenged, I am strengthened, and I am utterly changed. And if there comes a time where I am once again stumbling about, I hope I can finally do it with grace.

A Heavenly Headlock

"So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak...
Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."
But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."
The man asked him, "What is your name?"
"Jacob," he answered.
Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,
because you have struggled with God and with men
and have overcome."
Genesis 32:24, 26-28

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool."
Isaiah 1:18

"For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ
but also the privilege of suffering for Him.
We are in this struggle together.
You have seen my struggle in the past,
and you know that I am still in the midst of it."
Phillipians 1:29-30


  • Someone Being Me

    I'm sorry to hear of your struggle. I am also a clumsy and often uncoordinated person. Grace is an excellent trait but I'll take perserverance over grace any day. The fact that you pick yourself up and shake off the dust and keep on your path says a lot about the kind of person you are. God answers prayers in his own time. Sometimes the answer is no and sometimes it is not right now. No matter what the answer is there is always a reason and a plan. Perhaps it isn't the right time, perhaps your story is there to help others struggling with the same thing, whatever the reason I hope you can find peace with what has happened and joy in what blessings you have now. I'll keep you in my prayers.

  • amy

    I'm just grateful that you are willing to share your public stumbles with the rest of us. God has intersected your life with many, so that through you we may all learn grace. Your transparency is refreshing. You are a blessing to me, friend!!

  • Anonymous

    You are too cute girl. I know it's hard to fall physically and spiritually. Thank you for being so transparent and letting those that love you come along side to encourage you. I am not that transparent and have a very difficult time doing what you do. I have some pride issues when it comes to things like that.
    Grief is normal but a bummer. Once you lay something at the alter, leave it there.

    Your friend and supporter,


  • sjh

    Even though you stumble, you find grace through Him. I love all your scripture references and quotes. It shows your heart and how you are willing to share it!


  • The Dukes Family

    You're really such an awesome person, Amanda. My respect for you grows daily and you teach me something every time you write. I laughed and cried through that entry ... and went away with something of value.

  • Anonymous

    You are stronger than most. To be so open about your struggles physically and spiritually is inspiring and thought provoking. We need to hear your words. Thank you for never censoring your walk for us. To watch you consistently strive to be more like Him is a blessing.

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