God’s Painful Grace

There was a time when I believed God’s grace to be something that was always comforting, always miraculous, always a blissfully joyful thing to experience. And it IS all of those things, but not always. Yes, God’s grace has brought me to thankful tears. God’s grace has brought relief and happiness to my heart. God’s grace has overwhelmed me as a loving force that cannot quite be put into words, where I’ve simply felt waves of love washing over me.

But, recently, as I have reflected on some very pivotal moments in my life, I’ve come to also notice a pattern of what I’ll call “painful grace”. This often comes in the form of shattered dreams, a broken heart, a lost job and the like. And it’s not until you’ve come completely out of the situation and (significant) time has passed, and the heart is open for lessons to be gleaned from the experience, that you realize that it was God’s grace at work in those difficult moments also.

At the time, we can rarely see it as grace, because we’re in the throes of pain and disappointment. We’re grieving, lamenting, mourning. It’s difficult to see clearly when we’re in the middle of grappling with the “why” and “how” of our agonizing experiences. But, in hindsight, we can see God’s hand of grace in those very situations.

Later, after the fact, we see that God’s grace in our losing that job was that He was moving us out of our comfort zone, or perhaps removing us from a place with no growth opportunity, or maybe removing us from a toxic work environment so that we could move onto the next opportunity that He had for us. If we’d not have been ‘moved’ from that position, we might have remained in a place of stagnancy and/or missed out on the next chapter God had for us for career growth and change.

After the fact, we see that God’s grace in that failed relationship was Him moving us out of an unhealthy situation, or saving us from a lifetime commitment with a toxic person, or saving us from a situation were we’d have been ill-matched or not truly valued.  However, by His grace, He ‘moved’ us out of that situation so that we could be free to move into a place of self-growth and healing, and/or into a place of preparation for a better future relationship.

After the fact, we can see that God’s grace in that failed business or shattered dream was Him repositioning us. He was re-routing us to an even greater purpose and more fulfilling dream. That ‘failure’ caused us to rethink life, upgrade our perspective, and brainstorm a new, more innovative plan or idea than we would’ve thought of if we’d have not experienced that failure. I once heard Bishop TD Jakes saying something to the effect of – ‘what if our failures are really our gateways to the next phase of our purpose?!’ [paraphrased]

Ohhh, God’s painful grace! We do not readily embrace it. We fight it. We even hate it, because at the time it does not seem like grace… It only feels like pain. But, if our hand is in God’s hand, shouldn’t we trust Him to lead us through this process? To refine us? To grow us? Even if at times His grace is painful?

©2019 Life Together with Kay Dee, “God’s Painful Grace”

photo credit: morguefile.com

When Healing Takes Longer Than Expected

Waking up on a Sunday morning, my mind is full of EVERYTHING including the weird but persistent dreams I had last night.  One of the subjects of my dream was a former love interest … perhaps the phrase ‘love interest’ is not completely accurate.  He was a former potential love interest… there, that’s better.  I had to qualify it. Though I have moved on with life as normal, and time has passed, this particular person has been particularly hard to just ‘get over’.

To be fair, I rarely just ‘get over’ anything. I’m a person of process. It takes me time to work/think things through.  I am also a person who feels deeply, cares deeply and loves deeply.  However, due to prior life situations, disappointments and hurts,  I have learned over the years to temper my feelings.  I try not to allow myself to invest so quickly in anyone because, unfortunately, there are a fair amount of people in this world who will take advantage of (abuse/misuse) a loving heart.  So, I have learned to hold back.  I’ve learned to be watchful, wise and careful.  I’ve learned to see signs of those who would try to use me for their own selfish desires instead of caring for my heart.  There have been one or two who have slipped through the cracks of the security filters I have put in place, but, for the most part my system has served me well and protected me from harm.

However, this one person was not like that.  He was unlike most I had encountered in that we ‘vibed’ intellectually, culturally and conversationally.  He was/is a gentleman. (Why is that so freaking rare these days? I digress). We had similar senses of humor.  We seemed to understand one another well.  And he was/is a very kind and genuine individual.  However, we were at two different places in life and therefore reaching for two distinctly different outcomes.  It ended amicably.  However, I hadn’t realized how much I had allowed myself to hope in this situation.  I hadn’t realized that my heart had begun to become attached, to feel, to care….until it was over.  No one knew of my pain and disappointment, save a few close and trusted friends.  And at a certain point, I even stopped talking to my friends about it because I felt like I was grieving over it for too long.

Being single at this stage in life is particularly challenging.  I’m divorced and a single mom of teens and young adults.  Put on top of that being a Christian woman of deep faith and high standards.  Finding a quality man is not easy anyway, but, it’s especially not easy when you want to find a good, godly, stand-up individual who you actually gel well with.  This particular person met some of those key characteristics and thus, made him appealing.  A cut above the rest.  This was new for me.  The majority of prior prospects… hmm… okay ‘prospects’ is too strong a word.  The majority of prior ‘suitors’?  Nah, let’s just say the majority of prior dudes who’ve tried to talk to me have been only interested in something very shallow, which was always met by me with a polite “no thanks” in some form or another.

So, when you actually find someone that is fitting some of those key things you seek, your inner hope alarm goes off, “Ding, ding ding! We have encountered a potential candidate here!”  Problem is, I got ahead of myself in a major way.  I thought I was being careful and cautious (and I was, outwardly), but internally, I was riding the wave of excitement at having met someone who seemed pretty compatible.  I was leading with emotions instead of wisdom and patience.  However, soon enough, the differences in other key areas began to surface and it became evident to both of us that it was best to part ways as friends. Still, it wasn’t easy.  However, it was done respectfully and peaceably, for which I am thankful.

So what have I learned through this healing process?  I always say if you learn something then you haven’t truly lost.  As I look back on this particular situation with this person, I see places where I should have been more careful with managing my feelings.  I should have paid closer attention to particular conversations where clear messages were being expressed.  I also see places where I compromised within myself where I should not have. I also was gifted with the following gems: I learned that there are good men in this world who are kind, supportive, funny and who will like you just as you are.  I learned that two good people may not be ideal for each other (for whatever reason) and that that is completely okay.  So, you see I’ve learned plenty.  I am thankful that even though the healing process has been slow, at least it has been actually progressing / moving forward and I can really see how far I have come.

For those of you who are secretly trying to figure out who this was and when it happened…that is not important.  Suffice it to say it was in the past.  But, I wanted to share my experience in hopes of being a blessing to someone else.  Much love, much peace.

Kay Dee