There's Only Grace


There is no guilt here
There is no shame
No pointing fingers
There is no blame
What happened yesterday has disappeared
The dirt has washed away And now it's clear

There's only grace
There's only love
There's only mercy
And believe me it's enough
Your sins are gone
Without a trace
There's nothing left now
There's only grace

I was re-arranging my closet as I listened to these words.  It's my semi-annual ritual of swapping the summer clothes with the winter clothes.  As I did this mindless task my thoughts had wandered to goings on in my life, both past and present.

As I belted out the words along with Matthew West, God spoke to me.

You see, as I had been re-arranging my closet, I was in thought about some ugliness that has drifted through the past few years of my life like fog across the still surface of a lake.  I've been trying to figure out why I have continually felt so plagued with others on the outer perimeter of my life causing problems that made me feel almost as if they were trying to steal my happiness.  And I've begun to wonder if that's what it was....I'm happy.

And the more I thought of it, the more I realized that it all coincides with exactly that.

When I found myself as a single mother so many years ago, there was one thing that I came to inwardly realize.  Only I have the ability to make me happy.  And if I couldn't make myself happy, I had no chance of helping anyone else with their happiness.

And this is a difficult thing to do.  You can't just decide "I will make myself happy" and then instantaneously be happy.  It's a struggle.  How do you make yourself happy?  How do you keep others from making you unhappy?  

Over time I realized that my acceptance of myself played a part in my happiness.  I removed frenemies from my life that continually stirred up drama, I stopped looking for a guy to complete me and my little family and started spending my down time in the yard with Ty or on the couch with a book.  I started finding ways of making myself happy, and I found happiness along the way.

And then along came a man.  Mystery Man, as he was known for several months.  And he made me even happier.  We had about 10 months of sunshine-out-our-backsides-happiness before we got engaged in 2010.  

The happiness didn't stop there.  But the trials started.  Around the time we got engaged I felt attacked in various ways.  On our Wedding Day I was under attack in a big way.  Life was giving me all these reasons to be happy, and others on the outside were giving me reasons not to be.

And so it continued.  As Jason and I started our lives together and found our way together, we had to fight off conflict and drama that I've never really had to deal with before.  It all felt very personal and very deliberate, but now in looking back, it feels different.

Over time things have gotten better.  Where problems were before, they are no more.

And where that source of trouble has faded away, another has stepped up to take its place.  

I've been tried in a big way over the past few years.  I've had phases of ugliness that have attacked me and I've had hateful, nasty, uncalled for comments made to me and about me and it's left me feeling quite ugly on the inside as a result. 

My soul has become heavy and weary, so much so that when the song Worn (by Tenth Avenue North) came out, it was instantly my Heart Song.  

I’m tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

And this is where my thoughts were as Matthew West sang Only Grace and I found myself singing along with him.  When I'm worn and I'm broken, I turn to God.  But I also turn in on myself, too.  And when I turn in on myself, it's hard not to feel sorry for myself and to see—both magnified and amplified—all the things wrong with me and all the things I'm missing.  And when the reasons for your unhappiness are all too obvious, it's hard to see others who appear to have it together and have everything that your heart hurts for and not wish that they at least knew a little of the pain that you were feeling.  

I've thought for several years now that these attacks on me may not be what they feel like...what if they're unhappy people struggling to be happy for others.  What if they're wounded souls—like a wounded animal—that strike out at the hands and hearts that could help them if they'd let them.

What if this is why God keeps allowing others to hurt me like this.  Over and over again.  Part of me thinks it's because I'm not bold enough to stand up, speak up and demand "Enough is enough!"...part of me thinks there's a lesson I'm missing out on.

Today, as I sang Only Grace I wondered if it's because I could be an example to those He's trying to reach.  The most hurtful people are all too often the people that have been hurt the most.  This is how they were raised, this is how others have treated them.  This is what they know because it's what they were shown.  The difference between me and them is that I was raised differently.  I was given mercy and love on a regular basis.  I can show them better than they are showing me.  I can give them better than they are giving me.

What if instead of becoming hurt, I became humble?  What if instead of carrying a grudge, I shared grace?

The thought of how very hard it would be is overwhelming.  I can hold a grudge.  I know how to do this.  I've practiced and perfected it for thirty-two years.  Maybe it's time for a little grace instead.  Maybe next time I'm insulted, I can let it slide and understand that the problem really may not lay with me.  The blame doesn't always have to be placed on my shoulders, but if it is, so what.  My God is strong enough to help me carry it.

God works through the difficulties.  Maybe this is His way of telling me to start letting go of my grudges.  And in the process, I can give to others the grace that He's given to me.



Ashley Harris Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.