Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"...if grace is an ocean, we're all sinking...."

-lyrics from How He Loves Us, performed by Kim Walker / JesusCulture

I ran a stop sign yesterday.

I got to the intersection milliseconds before an oncoming SUV that had the right of way and no stop sign. I caused him to hit me on my passenger side.

My fault. Entirely my fault. I was driving Jonathan's car, which is likely totaled.

Gratefully, myself and the man driving the SUV both both walked away from the accident. Also gratefully, neither of us had any passengers with us. I suspect his back and neck feel just as sore as mine do today, and I hate that I caused someone else that pain. That hurts more than my neck and back do.

As soon as I realized I had run the stop sign, I felt sick. Ashamed and disappointed in myself. Painfully aware of my guilt.

I called Jonathan, and he arrived on the scene within minutes. I was braced and ready for him to take in the details, make sure I was really okay, then sigh and shake his head in disappointment at the financial upheaval and inconvenience I caused. I was ready for that reaction because that's what I deserved. But the sighing and the shaking of the head I knew I deserved and had been waiting on....never came. He just hugged me, held me, and repeatedly told me how glad he was I was okay. That it was just an accident. That we would get through it.

But his kind words and love and forgiveness weren't landing well. I didn't want love and forgiveness. I was so upset at myself that I wanted him to be angry, because that's what I deserved.

Then the messages from my friends and family started rolling in. Each one brought new tears. Not tears of gratefulness so much as tears of disbelief. Why are they sending me these encouraging messages? Don't they know what an idiot I am? That this wreck was my fault? I ran a stop sign! I destroyed my car and caused serious damage to another! Because of me a man is without his car, and probably in a good deal of pain! The only message I wanted was one telling me I needed to start being more careful. I didn't want encouragement because I didn't deserve it; I wanted a little old fashion chastisement...someone to agree with my opinion of myself at the time.

Then it just got worse.

A sweet dear friend brought me flowers and my favorite candy. Her beautiful little boys gave me big hugs and told me they were glad I was okay.

That was too much. Too much to take. I should not be surrounded with beautiful flowers and love --- the wreck was MY FAULT! I was being loved and embraced as if I had been the victim of a reckless driver, when in reality it was the other way around.

It was as my friend left, and I was feeling shame and embarrassment every time I looked at the bouquet, that my Father first whispered into my spirit.....grace. I couldn't escape the whisper of that word. Grace. This is grace. This is what it looks like. This is what it feels like. This is grace.

Moments later yet another friend rang the doorbell, and came in the door with dinner for my entire family.

As she left, tears of disbelief once again began to flow.

Again God began to whisper to my spirit. I'm showing you my grace. This is the kind of grace you live with every day. This undeserved love and unconditional acceptance is what you receive from me every day you live and breathe on this planet.

And I know it's true. I don't run stop signs and cause accidents every day. But every day, I plow through life, reckless with my words. Reckless with my time. Reckless with my thoughts. And God's grace is there in abundance in spite of myself.

His grace is always an ocean. Yesterday I just felt the depth of it more intensely. And instead of being embraced by the gentle waves, I fought and splashed and nearly drowned in its vastness.

So today my prayer is one of insane gratitude. I'm in awe of the way He has brought amazing friends and an amazing husband into my life. People who love me, and who carry His heartbeat in such a way they can love me in spite of myself, and extend His grace in a tangible way.

The gifts I received yesterday were hard to accept because I didn't deserve them. My prayer is that through this situation, I will remember that I live every single day with the gift of grace that I certainly don't deserve. I pray for an acute awareness of the grace of God, being careful not to be reckless with His gift.

I received love and gifts yesterday with much humility and amazement, and a keen sense that I was getting what I didn't deserve; I pray I receive His love, mercy, and forgiveness in much the same way.


Blogger Kelly had this to say:

Oh my gracious, Starr! I am glad you are okay. I am also glad the Lord used this accident to teach you something about himself. I cried like three times reading this. Beautifully written. Beautifully learned. Beautiful Grace. Thank you for sharing!

September 15, 2009 at 2:29 PM 

Blogger Tina had this to say:

starr, that was beautiful. perfect picture of grace.

oh how he loves us!
(i think i told you kim walker wrote it, & if you took my word for it, i'm sorry b/c i'm pretty sure john mark mcmillan wrote it.)

September 15, 2009 at 4:09 PM 

Blogger Cash Clan Japan had this to say:

That was a breathtaking post. As I read the beginning, my heart started beating really fast, and for just a few moments, I imagined a life without my Starr! Oh my gosh!!! What would I do without you, friend?? I'm so glad that you're okay.

That was the most beautiful post you've ever written. I identify so completely with this struggle against grace, girl. It is such a gift to have a friend like you.

September 15, 2009 at 8:10 PM 

Blogger Sam had this to say:

Great Post. God's Grace is amazing. So glad you are fine.

September 15, 2009 at 9:30 PM 

Blogger Joy had this to say:

Starr- That was written so perfectly! That touched me in so many ways. Thank you for sharing. I am so glad you are ok.

September 15, 2009 at 10:19 PM 

Blogger Vanessa had this to say:

Thank you for sharing from your heart in this post. What an amazing reminder of God's grace - thank you for that. And, I'm glad you are all okay.

September 16, 2009 at 9:39 AM 

Blogger StephCliff had this to say:

Amazing post. YOU amaze me. I don't think most people would recognize the grace of the situation. I'm glad you're ok.

September 16, 2009 at 1:05 PM 

Blogger Glen Alan Woods had this to say:

Powerful post. Discovered it from Jonathan's blog. Thank you for sharing a part of your life and the grace that God gives us.

September 26, 2009 at 1:03 AM 

Blogger Sincerely Anna had this to say:

I was really blessed by your post today that Valerie led me to in a comment on my blog. Had a similar experience this weekend by causing a fire in the kitchen. Thank you for sharing your story.

October 20, 2009 at 7:04 PM 

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I'm Starr Cliff. A domestically-challenged mom, climbing over mountains of laundry to bring you my stray observations and amusing stories about my kids. (more)



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