Well, you weren’t expecting something simple and uncomplicated, were you?
My October Challenge of getting more sleep has set the stage for November, when my goal is to work on more consistently reflecting grace and truth in my life. The thing is, it requires a massive amount of energy and vigilance to reflect grace and truth in a fallen world full of broken and damaged people and relationships. You are swimming upstream in the worst possible way. IMO, you can’t do it without supernatural support from a loving Creator, without the freedom that comes from knowing you’re forgiven your wrongs by your Redeemer, and without guidance from the Holy Spirit (who can see the landmines you can’t, and believe it or not, does warn you about them.) You also can’t do it if you’re physically exhausted most of the time.
I hate to break it to you, reader friends, but I have some unhealthy and broken relationships in my life. I know. Shocking, ain’t it? Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, prayer and reflection in the last couple of months, since about August. I keep coming back to Grace and Truth.
You can’t separate the two, you know. Grace without truth becomes a license to do whatever you want without the protective boundaries of reality. Truth without grace becomes a whip to flagellate ourselves and others with. A scalpel in unsteady hands.
You see, the thing is, my eyes have been opened lately to the suffering all around me. I went on a mission project in the city, and then later realized that I’m surrounded by poverty, suffering and darkness literally on my own street, in my own little town of 600, in my own rural county. The county we live in has the highest number of drug busts for meth production of any county in the state. Higher than Indy. Higher than “scary Gary.” I heard secondhand that someone on my street, whose son used to come over to play with mine, was injured cooking it in their kitchen. Since it’s secondhand, it might not be true, but it very well could be. They’ve since lost the house–I don’t know where that kid and his family are. We live “in town” in a small town with a lot of cheap housing, and where there aren’t many well-paying jobs. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that I’m probably literally surrounded by meth labs.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I do know why it took me that long. Because I’ve been so focused on myself and my own problems that I’ve barely looked up and around me.
I want to make a difference. I think I can make a difference–I know a lot of skills that people in my county could use to earn a living, and I know from my experiences substitute teaching and doing corporate training that I’m a good teacher. I think I could love on my community that way, maybe in other ways. But I have to be honest and admit that I have a lot of work to do getting my own house in order.
I’m not saying I have to totally have it all together before I try to love on my community (I’d never get there!) But if I’m honest, I need to “start at home.” I need to learn to freaking steward my resources of time and stuff. Again–grace and truth are key. I need to stop hiding from what needs to be done. I need to be honest with myself. And I need to continually accept the grace that’s offered me when my “progress” is circuitous and not linear.
Grace and truth to me, and grace and truth from me. That’s my goal for November. Sounds kinda warm and fuzzy and nonspecific, doesn’t it? So I’m going to start tracking in my offline journal and on Twitter whenever I have a “grace and truth” moment, to keep it high on my top-of-mind awareness. I’m also going to include it in my daily prayer time–asking forgiveness for my failures, which is in itself both reflecting truth and accepting grace. Can’t give what you don’t have.
Once again, anybody who wants to join me, let me know. We can hold each other accountable, and check in periodically if you’d like. Again, we’ll recap at the end of the month.