The Weight of Grace
I stood on the scale in my doctor’s office, the floral gown awkwardly open in the back, waiting for her to slide the weights to the right or the left. I watched as she eased the counter weights to the left, and, when they finally settled and balanced, I felt myself smile smugly. I looked at her and said, “Can you believe that just three months ago, I was nine pounds heavier?” I resisted the urge to fist bump my doctor and run around the waiting room, arms up in the air, whoop whopping for anyone who would listen. Instead I just crossed my arms and smiled, feeling justified, feeling prideful, feeling like the next stop I should make would be to another doctor down the street.
Three months earlier, I sat in a different doctor’s office, feeling fatigued and out of sorts, quite certain that a hormone treatment she recommended six months earlier just wasn’t agreeing with me. To avoid TMI, I won’t go into a lot of details, but that day in December I basically told her I wanted to discontinue the treatment. She asked me why and I said, “I don’t feel myself. I am really tired, run down, and I have gained nine pounds in the last six months, even though I am just as active as I was before.”
I thought I heard a little scoff and then watched as she read my chart and tried not to smirk. “Well, you are 47. That’s what happens.”
I am not always great at sticking up for myself, but I said, “9 pounds in 6 months with no real change in my behavior except for this hormone?”
She said, “Yep. That’s just part of getting older. But I will remove it if you want.” .I thought she might pat me on the head like I was in preschool and say, “There, there, little honey. I will indulge you today, but I want you to know that you’re wrong and have no idea what you’re talking about.”
I trudged out of her office, determined to prove her wrong. I looked forward to the day when I could stand in her office and say, “Look at ME, little honey. I am 47 and YOU were WRONG.”
And then I would do a little dance around her office and high-five her assistant.
I controlled myself and didn’t make that visit to the other doctor, but I sure felt good about myself that afternoon. And then I checked my email.
I found an email from my pastor, Ed, who wrote that he was interested in hearing what I was learning through this Lent writing experience. In his exact words he wrote, “How has God spoken to you? What has he said to you and your heart? What has been the fruit of the discipline?”
I quickly closed his email and thought, “I don’t know if I like those questions.” I flagged the email and decided to think about it at another time.
Later that day, I read a blog post by Amber Haines called: Be Still and Know I am God, even on a Tuesday. I was eager to hear what she had to say since I have been thinking about that verse so much during Lent. I felt my face flush a bit as I read:
“A few years ago, I was explaining my latest, greatest scheme to serve the kingdom of God, expecting my dear friend to give me a pat on the back. Instead, she offered her side smirk and knowing glance and said, ‘We like the striving, don’t we, Amber?’
It still echoes inside me. I sure do love the striving.
I wouldn’t teach you this in Bible Study, no, but if you look at my life, you would see a woman who loves to think she’s the one who brings about the kingdom of God, as if I’m an usher for King Jesus and He won’t come unless I do right.
But isn’t He the Shepherd? Doesn’t He lead us into the kingdom?
My entire faith journey has been an unveiling of the many ways I’d like to work my way to God, and it makes me laugh that maturity means learning how to cease.
If we never cease from work, we’ll never see the thin line between working in faith and humility and working in an exhausting pride.”
I sat quietly and then pictured myself high fiving my doctor about my latest accomplishment and realized how much I want my faith and spiritual life to be just as goal oriented.
Before I go any further, I need you to hear me say something: goals are great. I believe it is important to set goals and to do our best to achieve them if we set them. It is also important to advocate for ourselves and to speak up when things just don’t seem right. I am so glad I told my doctor that I didn’t agree with her because her treatment was affecting my health.
But as is often the case, I needed to consider a deeper lesson. There was something prideful about my attitude as I stood on that scale that needed to be addressed.
I want every aspect of my life to work just like the last three months. I want to go to my basement to sit quietly for ten minutes every night of Lent, and I want God to show up and give me a fool-proof plan that is going to let me FIX MYSELF and fix every other broken situation in my life. And I want to see change in my life that I somehow orchestrated so that I can run around with my fists in the air screaming, “YES!!!! LOOK WHAT I DID!!!! I have the power to make everything as it should be!” And then God and I will fist-bump, and we will both agree that He really needed my help to get this done.
As I watch myself revel in my pride and my need to strive, I keep hearing, “Be still and know that I am God….and you’re not.”
The NASB translation says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”
What if the things we can’t change are the very things that lead us into the arms of our savior? What if the moments we can’t fix or the parts of life we can’t control are the places we see His truth and grace more than anywhere else?
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “ For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Oh, I so want to boast.
And in being still, God allows me to see and reminds me that it is more about grace than boasting.
And who can run around the waiting room of life and take credit for that? I can’t rub that in anyone’s face. I can only humbly accept it and cry because I did nothing to deserve it.
This is the sixth post in the current Lent series.