My middle name is Grace. Amanda Grace, how sweet the sound (sing it…it works!). Growing up, I hated my middle name. I don’t even know why, really. I guess I thought it wasn’t cool or trendy, or I thought it was an old lady’s name or something, since I was told that I had a great-grandmother who was my middle-namesake. As I’ve gotten older, though, I have absolutely grown to love my middle name, so much so that I intend to pass it along to my someday-maybe-future daughter. Every name I pick out for the daughter I might someday have, I try it out with “Grace,” either as a first or middle name.
So, why did my feelings about my middle name change? Part of it was just growing up and maturing and becoming comfortable in my own identity, I think. I also started to find it absolutely hilarious that, though my middle name is Grace, I am quite possibly the least graceful person I have ever met. One of God’s silly little jokes, I suppose, and who can blame Him? I think it’s pretty funny myself!
Also, I just thought it was pretty, the older I got. It’s such a lovely, sweet name. I’m a fan of one- or two-syllable, simple, classic names. I’m not so much a fan of the fad of trendy, awkwardly spelled names that are only going to confuse children and give them a real hard time once they learn to write and spell. I mean, how much easier will it be for the child to write “Ann” or “Grace” or “Amy” than to write “Rebeckah” or “SierraMistyDakotafer” or whatever? Yes, I am being silly. But I really do like simpler, more classic names.
However, this morning, I started thinking about grace. And Grace. The name, and the definition(s) of the word itself.
I started off very clumsily this morning, both physically and, I’m afraid to say, spiritually. I nearly turned my ankle walking to my car (stupid high heels…even though they’re gorgeous). I fumbled over to the coffee doctoring station at Starbucks and darn near dropped my grande soy Hazelnut latte (I did drop the lid on the ground, and had to get a new one), and then I stumbled coming off the curb coming back to my car. Little, stupid things, sure, but I was almost in tears after about 15 minutes of being out of the house.
This is likely because I also feel very spiritually clumsy lately. You may have noticed, dear friends and readers, that I have not been posting much lately, and it’s because I just feel…a bit lost and like I’m struggling. Like I’m losing is more accurate. Losing the battle, losing the fervor, losing my favor with God (when I know that’s absolutely not true), losing my grip on the faith already. It’s so frustrating to feel that way and to know that sometimes I just want to give in to my sinful nature because, at least it seems, it’s so much easier to do that. Which, in the short term, I suppose it is. It’s much easier to make the decisions I want to make than it is to make the ones He wants me to make. But I know that in the end those “easy” decisions will come back to haunt me.
As I sat in my car outside of Starbucks, frustrated, I texted a good friend and asked her for prayer and encouragement. She responded within a minute and asked for my email address so she could send me some encouraging and healing words and Scriptures. I immediately felt better, and headed to work with a bit more peace in my heart and thought about grace.
“Grace” was the message of the first service I ever attended at Gateway Church. God reminded me on the drive this morning that we all fall under the umbrella of grace. No matter what, no matter where we are or what we are doing or have done, we still are able to receive His grace…but it’s our decision to accept it or not. I think I’ve always known this, at least since I accepted Christ as a child, and again as an adult. But what I tend to forget is that it’s truly a daily decision to make and, no matter how our day is going, reminding ourselves that we are blessed with that grace and the ability to receive it can change the outcome of that day. If I’m having a bad day, it gives me peace and reassurance. If I’m having a great day, it makes me joyfully and prayerfully stop and thank the Lord for what He’s given me that I sooooo do not deserve.
I heard or read somewhere once that “Grace is beauty under pressure.” What a lovely definition that is, I think. When I can respond gracefully to something…I am responding with beauty and decorum in a pressured or stressful situation. It’s not something that comes to me naturally, just like physical grace is not. But it’s something I can strive for, and that I can achieve through the receiving of the heavenly Grace that I’ve been given.
When I got my friend’s email, she told me to look up Romans chapter 8. The first thing that caught my eye as the web page loaded was the end of the chapter, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Not long after that, the Gateway Church Twitter account tweeted something that the pastor had said: “The Father has been rehearsing His ‘welcome home’ speech longer than you've been rehearsing your ‘I'm sorry’ speech.”
I am clumsy. I will fall down a lot, both physically and spiritually, and likely on a daily basis. But it’s my prayer that I will be able to live up to the name I’ve been given and some day pass that name on to my child and instruct her in the same path towards living in (and as) Grace.