Brown. Nothing special. Just plain. Boring…kind of how I viewed grace.
I wanted a cool word for the year. A word like warrior. But God would not leave me alone about it.
Grace. Plain brown grace.
“Grace is weak,” I thought. That can’t be the word for me. This is a year of change. Of growth. Of strength. But here I am, with grace.
To me grace equaled mistakes. Weakness. Incompetence. And I hate feeling incompetent. It terrifies me. I wasn’t sure why, but then it hit me. I hate feeling incompetent because it’s how the dude who raped me made me feel.
And it wasn’t just a rape. We dated for about a year. A year of feeling sexually incompetent. I was never enough. Physically incompetent. My boobs were little and my butt was big. Emotionally and mentally incompetent. He would constantly threaten to shoot himself because of my “mistakes” or “lack of effort”.
The mistakes I am referring to were centered around things he would do to control me. Things like write him a note every day, talk dirty to him in notes and on the phone, wear a certain thing, or look a certain way. But it was never ever enough. I was always incompetent.
With him, incompetence equalled punishment. Maybe with words. Maybe with threats. Maybe with actions. But it was never forgiven. And the sad thing is, I hadn’t done anything wrong in the first place.
What does that do to a person? Constantly feeling inadequate. Unable to measure up. Not to a reasonable expectation. But to an expectation that was just plain jacked up and weird.
It creates an unbelievable amount of anxiety and shame. I would not leave him because I firmly believed no one else would want me and I was a mistake of a human. Eventually I did get out…but the damage remained. I needed to be everything to everyone. I had to. For self protection. I repeatedly lost myself out of a need to remain safe.
And that’s where grace comes in.
Turns out it has been non-existent with me for a while. Oh…I had it in infinite amounts for others. But none for me. And I didn’t want it. Because grace meant I had not met the expectation – and not meeting the expectation induced panic.
I hid negative internal states, failures, and mistakes over and over again out of fear. I even hid them from myself. Looking at them was too scary. Too painful. If I acknowledged them someone else might too. And then it would happen. My incompetence would permeate the room like a nasty fart that no one wants to smell and everyone would be disgusted and run away.
But it’s not true. Even though I’ve held myself to a jacked up frame of reference, I have never been incompetent. Not because I’ve never made legit mistakes, but because of that brown so-called boring word, grace.
Turns out it’s rather dynamic. Not necessarily pretty. But actually kind of warrior like. It goes to the wounded bleeding broken places. The places others refuse to go…and says yep that sucked and it was far from perfect…and your loved. Not in spite of your crap. But because of it.
Grace is unmerited favor. Not pitty love. Not a bandaid for incompetence. It’s love for the whole person – free of expectations – out of choice. And that’s the choice God made for us in sending Jesus. The choice of grace. And it’s not brown or boring or weak. It’s warrior grace that says yep you fall down a lot, and you can’t be everything to everyone, but you are loved by God and that’s freaking amazing. And you’ll never have to measure up ever again because grace bore the measuring stick for you.
Art by Valerie Wieners Art and available at valeriewienersart.com