Halfway through a year I never predicted. A year of the greatest joys and the worst kinds of pain. Babies born and lives lost. Hearts bursting in joy and in sorrow. I hear my new baby cry out for the first time as she enters the world. I hear the desperate cries of true heart break on the other end of the phone. Phone calls bringing the best and the worst news. At the breakfast table. In the middle of the night. She’s here. He’s gone. Moments that define me now. Part of me forever. There are hearts making room for new life and more love. And there are hearts that will never be healed. Questions never answered. There are tiny sisters meeting sisters. Singing lullabies and feeling their hearts grow. And then other sisters. Crying out in sorrow. Feeling their hearts break.
In this year of change and unpredictability there is something woven in to it all. A thread binding the joy and the sorrow together in some way. Making it all a little bearable. And maybe a little beautiful. There is something unmerited. And yet deserved. It’s grace. There is grace. In heaping mounds. Piled on from strangers and family. From friends and neighbors. From God’s heart to mine. Grace upon grace upon grace in a season of big change and big feelings.
Grace is my word of the year. I chose it back in January. A reminder I knew I would need this year. Something I could look for when things got crazy as a new mom of three. When I chose it, I was mostly thinking about myself. How I could allow myself grace in a time of change. Things like “Don’t worry about the laundry getting done every day” and “You don’t have to look totally great this year - like, you’ll have bad roots” and “Macaroni three nights in a row is not all that bad in the long run”. I was thinking about grace for my ego I guess.
But now? Halfway through a year with so many more challenges than laundry and highlights and vegetables? Grace is everything.
For me? It’s permission. To live and to feel. To be vulnerable. Permission to let my tears flow and to bury my head in someone’s shoulder. To grieve a great loss without shame or hurry. To feel the big feelings of losing someone so good and so Godly. To burst into tears over boiled peanuts in front of all my neighbors and to let my children see my sadness. It’s permission to let others in. To accept help and empathy and love. To lean into my support system.
It’s also permission to play. To sing and dance and play with my kids. To splash with them in an inflatable baby pool in my front yard. To laugh out loud. To be truly happy in a year of real heartbreak. It’s permission to spend real true quality time with people instead of doing anything else. Permission to grieve a great loss and to still be happy at the same time. To burst into tears while I’m driving and to laugh so hard I spit out my drink.
And lately, it’s permission to dream. In the midst of nighttime feedings and terrible phone calls. While I rock babies and read nursery rhymes and kiss boo boos, my dreams can still be mine. It’s ok. Grace gives me permission to have my own dreams. They don’t have to die because I’m a mom or because I’m sad. I can show my kids that their dreams matter by going after my own. Isn’t that what I want for them? To live into their gifts and dreams? I can give them permission by living into my own. Grace let’s me try and fail and try again.
Grace is what I needed this year more than I knew. Unmerited favor. From God. From myself. From my people. From strangers. Unmerited. Deserved, though, because I am a human being. A child of God. Deserved because I was created to feel and to live and laugh and dream. Created to feel big feelings and to need people. We all need grace. Unmerited favor. We don’t earn it by being good or by doing the laundry or by not yelling at our kids. We don’t earn it at all. But God says we deserve it. So we do.
As I look back on the first half of this year I see how I’ve come back to grace over and over. How it’s given me permission to be what I was created to be. Without shame, but with acceptance and joy. I see how grace has shined a light on others who have come alongside me in this season. People who love me and celebrate me whether I’m crying into my peanuts with grief or laughing so hard I pee my pants or living passionately into my dreams. So I’m going to keep coming back to grace. Every day. Every minute. And I’m going to live the way I was meant to live. With grace? I’m set free.