The Texas sun is finally out.
For the first 5 weeks or so it was mostly that cold-and-wet chill that even going inside doesn't relieve because your bones are still shivering. Today marks the end of my 7th week here, and finally, I'm able to wear shorts-- which I celebrated with a racer-T sunburn, the best kind.
I feel good. I have scheduled an appointment with a mobile bike repairman, I have full-time tutoring work beginning on Monday, I will be private teaching with the New School of Austin, and I have a performance lined up at a steakhouse at the end of April.
I feel good.
I discovered Bikram Yoga (luckily for me, directly across the street) and instead of spending money for massages that only relieve pain for about two days, I'm investing in strengthening my whole body.
I have amazing friends on all sides; down the street, across the city, on the other side of the country. We don't get to choose the family we are born into and I broke the lottery with mine-- but that being said, the Lord has been teaching me what it means to be a part of the larger family of God, which is made up of a bunch of mostly cool but sometimes whack people.
I have spent my life mostly being skeptical about groups and taking pride in never letting myself feel like I really belong. I didn't grow up with one friend group and I never really felt at home or melded into ministries, though I did my best to serve as genuinely as I could. I didn't have one core group of friends throughout college (though I was fortunate to have a dope jazz squad.)
That being said. I've been exploring what it really means to belong, and it all comes down to grace.
I've retained a handful of friendships from my years as a nomad and grace is the stretchy thread keeping our friendships connected over long distances. My family has its quirks like all of the rest, but grace is a tangible quality that oozes out during tension. Our society says "grace" to mean "class," "poise" or "honor," but that's a disservice. When you feel it in a relationship it leaves you raw and yet assuaged.
The definition of grace has been understood in our society to mean "class," "poise" or "honor," but when you feel it in a relationship it leaves you raw and yet assuaged.
Grace is when you overlook your poor first impression of someone and forever after have a sense of humor for their RBF (resting bitch face.) Grace is having to make withdrawals of mercy again and again for the same infraction without keeping a tally for retribution's sake. Grace is being limitless in your generosity and not holding out for repayment.
Grace is when someone sees your ugly and loves you anyways.
The most dissatisfied relationships occur when one or both parties hangs on for the duration of their commitment while actively shielding the other person from themselves, whether it be out of distrust for what they know is lurking deep down or a fear that they will be an awful thing to behold, and thus rejected.
But we don't do anyone any favors by perpetually guarding those closest from the "real" us. If we're not owning up to our ugly within our smallest circle of trust, the rest of society will have an disproportionate ability to influence our vision of ourselves. The barista who gets your order wrong and that one guy who doesn't like your Instagram photo will seriously deflate your mood and you'll react because of a low self-image. Everything trivial will become a contest, you against strangers. You against your friends, you against your coworkers. Against shady images of real people you keep at a distance.
(At this point, I have already backspaced over so much because I want to unpack the value of vulnerability, but maybe I shouldn't use this forum to publish my first book.)
Here's the point. I've been here seven weeks. I've come up out of a valley mostly because I talked my way through it. God gives me His truth but I can be resistant to digest it, so He's gifted me with community that repeats what He's already said. It's a process of prescribing and ingesting the same medicine no matter what side you fall on in the relationship, if you happen to be the giver or the taker.
Grace is when someone sees your ugly and loves you anyways.
The medicine is simple:
You can be ugly. You are missing pieces.
You do not have it all together. You are not the best. You hurt people sometimes.
BUT GOSH BY GOLLY YOU ARE STILL ENOUGH. In Jesus' name.
Our society just loooooves to talk about love, acceptance and tolerance.
But no one is extending love to people they don't think deserve it.
Grace would demolish our politics, if it was ever introduced to the conversation.
It's undeserved mercy, and God alone sets the precedent in His son.
I take the gospel medicine on the daily when someone drives me up a wall or my heart gets trampled on, or I feel unable to live up to a professional standard. I give the gospel medicine to anyone who is beating themselves up over existing because they can feel that they don't have it together.
We all need to hear that we have missed the mark in every conceivable way and no one has fixed their "ish". We need to hear that we're worthy anyway, even though it's an unfair statement.
But God isn't fair! He is just. He unfairly excused you from your mess by giving you the inheritance worthy of a mess-less person. He exchanged Jesus for you, and that man has no lack. It isn't fair.
This is grace! This is you being known and accepted ANYWAYS. God sees something in me that no one else gets to define, because they don't have the authority to. They're gonna die, just like me. So their breath is hooey if it doesn't breath life.
God sees the deepest part of me that no one else gets to define, because they don't have the authority to.
You are still enough. You can be known. Even the family of God is made up of a bunch of broken, learning people, who if you hang around long enough will reliably fail you. The touch and taste of grace has long-lasting effects, but it only has one source. The sun is shining again because I have practiced remembering everyday for seven weeks that it doesn't matter where I am or what I'm trying to do with my life; at my worst I am known and I am accepted, and this world can't take away from me what it was never able to give.