Grace Upon Grace

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I remember looking at my mother when I was a preteen- no make-up on, dressed in outdated clothes, hair a mess, and promising myself that I would never be that person.  There are days that I look at myself in the mirror now, and I see that woman I judged so harshly as a pre-teen.  Motherhood has taught me so much about the woman that I said I would never become!  Moms don’t have time for make-up in the midst of a child’s meltdown, getting your child dressed is a sometimes a feat- shopping for new clothes with them in tow is basically the Olympics, finding a hairbrush is sometimes an ultimate, extreme scavenger hunt.  I know now that my mom did her best, every day, despite what she looked like.  Sometimes her best looked like a coordinated outfit with accessories, make up, and styled hair, and sometimes her best looked like bags under eyes, no mascara, a baggy t-shirt, comfy pants, and pulled back hair.  My best often looks like hers did, changing every day, bouncing between extremes!  Oh how I wish I could go back in time and show grace to my own mother now.  Becoming a mother opened my eyes so much to the grace we must give our own mothers, and in turn, the grace we should show to other moms.

Ephesians 4:7 says that grace was given to each of us, but how do we show grace to others?  The same way that Christ showed grace to us, selflessness!  Showing grace sometimes means putting our comfort to the side and prioritizing someone else.

I was on my way to church on a Wednesday evening, and I got a flat tire.  My dad came to change my tire, I was 30 minutes late, and to top it all off, I knew I had to put air in my spare tire after church.  I pulled up to the gas station, dreading getting home later than usual, and as I did, a car quickly darted into the spot beside the air machine.  I’d like to tell you that this is the moment where I showed grace, but instead, I got angry, and muttered the words, “That stupid person. I was here first and had my blinker on.”  Then I heard a small voice from the back seat say, “Mom, you know, that person needs air, too.”  The woman in the car who pulled in before me was also a mother, but an older one with grandchildren. I watched as she struggled getting the air machine to work.  Feeling convicted by the words of my 4-year-old, I got out and helped her!  God called me to show her grace, to let go of my judgment, and help her.  I put air in her tire and offered her grandchildren some snacks that I had in my car.  At the end of our quick interaction, she said “Thank God for your help.”

What I was reminded of that evening was that grace is shown the most in the moments where we put God, and the opportunity to show the Gospel through action to others, above what is easiest for us.  

Are there moments in your day where God gives you the opportunity to show another mother grace?  Perhaps you’ve spotted a mom of multiples struggling behind you in the check-out line, or maybe you’ve been on an airplane with the mom of a crying baby?  Perhaps you know a mother who is grieving or struggling with a child who is differently abled?  Maybe, like me, you’ve realized that even your own mother needed grace when you gave her judgment?

It is not always easy to take a moment out of our day to show grace to others, to do a favor for someone else.  The Bible commands us to be kind to one another (Eph 4:32), and yet, often we are too self-focused to notice those around us struggling.  We are so caught up in our own busy-ness that we forget that we can offer to help a mom put items on the belt at the store, offer to hold a crying baby, show up as a support for a struggling mom, or even show gratitude to our own mother.  Sometimes all our fellow Moms really need is a listening ear and a gracious heart!

Grace often confounds us because it goes against our human nature.  Luke 6:32 tells us to share love with not only those we know or those who love us but to everyone.

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. – Luke 6: 32-36

To demonstrate true grace, we have to put our own feelings aside, put our busy lives on the back-burner, and extend ourselves to the people around us—the people we may not even know, people we may not share commonalities with, and people we may have misjudged.

Our human nature often prevents us from showing unbiased grace, but grace is God’s gift to everyone.  We can’t earn it, and we don’t deserve it.  But we can share it!

This week, when you see a mom wrestling with what life is throwing at her, remember that you can be the person who lifts her up by showing her grace.