Thursday, November 5, 2009

The other side of grace

I'm currently listening to Harvesting the Heart by the fabulously talented Jodi Picoult and read by the equally wonderful voice-over talent, Cassandra Campbell. At the end of the tenth CD, Picoult weaves a tapestry of grace that brought me to tears tonight.

We've all heard stories of prodigal sons and daughters. But in Harvesting the Heart Picoult addresses a less common situation...that of prodigal mothers; mothers who choose to leave their children behind. It made me wonder how many moms out there have felt like running away at some point or another. The demands of motherhood can be overwhelming and escape...any tempting. It has nothing to do with love, either. Moms that run often love their children just as much as those who stay...sometimes more. Some mothers leave because of insecurities. Demon thoughts haunt them and convince them of their unworthiness as a parent.

Have you had days like that?

Yesterday I addressed the subject of grace. But I was looking at it in reference to how it makes the recipient of that grace feel. Then I listened to part of Picoult's book today and I started rethinking the whole subject.

In the book, Paige's mom leaves when Paige is five-years-old. Twenty years pass before Paige decides to go in search of her. Their reunion does not go as she anticipated. In her nonchalance, her mother does not beg for forgiveness, nor does she provide the answers Paige is looking for.

Lying in bed that night in her mother's home, Paige recalls times before her mother left when, after her parents had argued, she would crawl into bed and cuddle up next to her mother. Two decades later, Paige is awakened by the muffled sounds of her mother's cries coming from the bedroom. She stands outside the door looking at her mother and this is what Picoult writes: "I just couldn't do it. After all, so much had happened. I wasn't a four-year-old child and she was no more than a stranger. She was practically nothing to me................Even as I crossed the floor, I was listing all the reasons I shouldn't. You don't know her. She doesn't know you. She shouldn't be forgiven. I crawled under the covers with a sigh that unraveled the years. I put my arms around my mother and willingly slid back to where I'd started."

Grace. Do you see that? But Picoult made me think about grace in a different way. Sure, the grace was being extended to the mother. But can you see, in this situation, how the grace Paige gives actually provides healing to Paige herself?

Yesterday, in the grocery store, when I offered a gracious response to the harried woman, was that grace only intended for her or is it possible I needed to offer grace in order to receive it myself? On the surface, I wasn't the one in need. But after thinking about Paige and her mother, I started thinking about other situations where grace is needed. Perhaps I needed to extend grace because some of my rough edges needed softening...the rough edges of being judgmental, feeling superior, feeling justified in my it possible the grace I gave away was needed more by me than by her?

What about that broken vase or spilled milk? Is it possible your child is a bit more nervous and careless because of tension in the house? Did he overhear mommy and daddy arguing last night? Is mommy so absorbed in her studies for her college classes that she's not setting aside enough time for cuddling?

When you're ready to snap at your child, opt for grace. And then think about which one of you really needs it most. Maybe that's one of the things that's so amazing about works best when it goes full circle.

I hope you will forgive me for going off on this grace tangent for the past two days. I promise you some solid posts next week on healthier and greener living. As a matter of fact, I'll be featuring a guest blogger who is tackling the subject of celiac disease with advice to parents of gluten-intolerant children.

Practice grace. Your home will be healthier for it.

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