Grace on a Thursday
When we feel unlovely we want to hide because we can’t imagine anyone could love us in those moments. Let’s face it - we all have those moments, and that’s usually when God speaks the loudest.
My Grammie was one of the loveliest women I have ever known, but one Thanksgiving she didn’t think so. Our tradition was to dress up in our Sunday best, dine at two and go to the movies. We all knew with Grammie being sick there would be no movie this year. Released from the hospital two days earlier, we were just happy she could be with us for the holiday. But now another storm was brewing.
“Mom!” My sister ran into the kitchen. “Grammie says she’s not coming to dinner. She says she doesn’t have anything to wear, her hair isn’t done and she is not about to come to dinner in her pajamas and robe.” Laura’s green eyes pleaded with Mom. “What are we going to do? We can’t leave her in her room all alone…not on Thanksgiving.” Nervous knots formed in my belly as I wondered what would happen.
A few days earlier I had taken a trip to the hospital. My mind hadn’t comprehended the seriousness of Grammie’s condition until I stood in the doorway of her room and was struck by her frailty. I paused for a moment taking in the image of my sweet Grammie lying in that hospital bed looking like a small child. Without the benefit of going to the salon, her normally jet black hair had turned gray. Her milky white complexion had grown sallow and pale. Broken blood vessels from her IV etched the skin of her once smooth hand.
The contrast to her usual self was startling. Throughout my childhood, Grammie had come over for dinner on a Thursday after her weekly hair and nail appointment. Smelling of Estee Lauder perfume, she would sink into the sofa and beckon to me with her beautiful hands. I loved sitting next to her, and my heart would sing at the invitation to be near her. I breathed her in while listening to her soft, gentle voice tell me about the events of her day, and then she would ask me about mine. Her hands stroked my back or played with my hair. She made me feel safe and loved. But in the past few years the allure of college and my social life had kept me from spending Thursdays with her. And now she was in the hospital.
I moved closer to her hospital bed and picked up her IV pierced hand. She smiled at me and asked me about my day. It felt just like our old Thursday afternoons, only we were conversing over the starched white sheets of her hospital bed, with the scent of antiseptic lingering in the air. She couldn’t reach out and stroke my back anymore, but I could curl up beside her and stroke her hair and smell her sweet perfume. Even in the hospital she still smelled like flowers. I cradled her hand in mine while her words curled around my heart. She loved me unconditionally and in that moment I saw Jesus. Like Christ, she gave to me even though I hadn’t made her a priority over the past few years.
The hospital released her for Thanksgiving and as the scent of roasting turkey and pumpkin pie filled the air, my sister and I watched our mother, wondering what to do. Mom told us not to worry while she placed an apple pie into the oven. I could see her shoulders quietly shake as she tried to hide her emotion from us.
“Mom, what if I fix her hair and put a little makeup on her,” Laura said. “I think that might help her feel better.”
“Yes, I think that’s a great idea, but let’s do more than that.” She stirred the gravy and then a smile broke through the clouds that had covered her face. “I know…let’s wear our bathrobes to the table. We can surprise her!” Pausing for a moment to let the idea sink in she continued, “We can wear our normal clothes underneath and each of us can come to the table in our robes. That way she will know that she fits right in. What do you think?” Her face shone with excitement, and I knew we had our answer.
Laura nodded her head in agreement. “I’ll go tell her that we aren’t taking no for an answer and insist that she let me fix her hair. Even though we all think she’s beautiful without being fixed up, knowing Grammie there isn’t going to be any other way to convince her.”
We thought we would surprise her so we didn’t tell Grammie of our plan. After a “We’re not taking no for an answer” conversation with my mother, Grammie finally let my sister Laura fix her hair and apply a little color to her cheeks.
I will never forget how excited I felt when I stood next to my chair at the dining room table. I looked around the table at my family. We were attired in our Sunday best, our bathrobes draped over our shoulders. My little brother even had on his slippers and was grinning from ear to ear. We barely contained ourselves with the excitement of our secret and hoped that Grammie would feel a part of our family as she had on so many other Thursday afternoons.
Dad wheeled her into the dining room, her normally robust frame wilting in the wheelchair. We stood quietly at the table until she looked up. When she did, we shouted “Surprise!” Her face went from pale gray to a soft blush, and a giant smile engulfed her face. She giggled my favorite giggle and for a moment she was my joyful, adoring Grammie again.
Tears of relief rolled down my cheeks, she was with us again, and we were all overjoyed. Conversation bubbled across the table as we shared our Thanksgiving meal. I believe we were all thankful that our family was complete. It would not have been the same without our Grammie.
Grammie died two days later. For her funeral we dressed once again in our Sunday best. I wished we could have worn our robes again. It seemed appropriate that in one of her final moments here on earth Grammie was more beautiful to me than ever, without the earthly adornments of hair color and makeup. Grace is God’s way of pouring out His love upon us regardless of our clothing, whether we feel lovely or not. To Him we are always lovely, a fragrant aroma and a blessing. He accepts us, offers us grace when we don’t deserve it and puts on our humanity out of love, every single day of the week.
Imagine you are sitting across the table from Jesus enjoying a nice meal or a warm cup of coffee. As with any friend the conversation flows between the two of you. You take turns sharing ideas, thoughts and dreams or perhaps you just make small talk appreciating the intimacy in your exchange. And then He looks at you with a small smile on his lips and says, “Dear one, do you know what you believe about me? Do you know how I have worked in your life?”
The question dives deep into your soul piercing you heart as your doubts, fears and worries come quickly to the surface. Struggling for composure you nervously smile back and you have no idea how to respond.
We are born into a broken world, a world that thwarts our every attempt to understand who we are, why God created us and who He really is. Our questions go unanswered and we linger in a realm of unconscious abandonment allowing the worlds definitions of who we think we ought to be and who we think God is to define us. No wonder we are struggling. John Eldredge calls this ache in our soul, our heart’s question.
Here’s an excerpt from his book Captivating:
And down in the depths of our hearts, our Question remains. Unanswered. Or better, it remains answered in the way it was answered so badly in our youth. “Am I lovely? Do you see me? Do you want to see? Are you captivated by what you find in me?” We live haunted by that Question, yet unaware that it still needs an answer. When we were young, we knew nothing about Eve and what she did and how it affected us all. We do not first bring our heart’s Question to God and too often, before we can, we are given answers in a very painful way. We are wounded into believing certain things about ourselves. And so every woman comes into the world set up for a terrible heartbreak. (Captivating, 58-59)
What we believe about God and about ourselves is colored by our life experiences. You might be thinking that your life experience hasn’t been so great; in fact maybe it’s been pretty difficult. My heart goes out to you and I pray you will be able to lay down those things that have been impediments to you so that you will be able to see the good that has come out of those challenges. Each of us has been on the receiving end of God’s equipping and our purpose here is to look at every aspect of our view of God in order to get our questions answered. Our goal is to establish a strong foundation for ourselves that is based on the word of God, not on the things of this world.
** I've been reviewing some of my old writings in an attempt to figure out what my future looks like. Funny that sometimes looking back can give us clarity on the future. In the midst of changing cities and homes I find myself wondering how to get the physical things settled, but it's the larger vision and purpose for my life that seems to be weighing on me the most. This segment of writing has reminded me to look at my view of God within the framework of where I am today, to examine the foundation of my life and yes continue seeking the answer to my question, from God. The future may not be clear today, but I know based on experience that eventually I'll see where I'm headed. I just have to be patient, it will come.
Ahh, sweet February. I love this month. Not only because it’s short and has a lover’s holiday right in the middle but also because it signals to me the very essence of winter. Images of snow covered plains, frozen ponds and freezing temperatures float through my brain as I imagine what it would be like if I didn’t live in South Texas where it’s sixty degrees in the middle of February. Before we moved to Texas we spent a few years in Salt Lake City where the snow fell with force and I routinely had to dig my car out.
In South Texas flip flops can be worn year round but when the temperatures fall, watch out, the winter girl in me takes over and I wear socks. I decided a few years ago that if it wasn’t going to snow, or even freeze once in awhile I was going to treat myself to some fancy socks to remind me of what winter is usually like. What I found was a great way to give a gift to myself and I didn’t even realize it.
I have my own personal sock store. I know the complete inventory and rely on my own stocking system to figure out which socks will warm my feet every day. In fact my sock drawer is overflowing…with socks of all different colors, textures and fabrics.
I can’t help it, I’m a winter girl and even though you might be shaking you head wondering if I’m a little bit crazy, I know that my enthusiasm for socks is one of the little ways I can treat myself on a cold winters day. A little pick me up, if you will. Socks do for me in the dead of winter what sunscreen and a swimming pool do in the summer. They make me smile and make me feel like I’ve done something nice for myself. Definitely important ingredients for a quick little pick me up.
Sock wearing might seem simple but I’m curious…do you know what gives you that little extra hit of excitement or motivation when the whether outside has gotten you down? Or maybe when it’s been a long day at work and you are utterly exhausted? What do you do for yourself when you need a little zest? If it feels like you are running on empty and tired of the gray skies and frigid temperatures, it might be time to find a way to invest a little zest into your day. Consider asking yourself the following:
How can I pamper myself today?
What sounds like fun?
If I had five extra minutes what would I do?
For more information on how to give yourself a little zest visit my website: www.resurrectedgirl.com and contact me for your free 30 minute consultation.