"Like a spiritual defect encoded in the family DNA, ungrace gets passed on in an unbroken chain."
- Philip Yancey, What's so Amazing About Grace
This statement made me think about my grandmother's children. Quite regularly they caused my dear grandmother pain, embarrassment and heartache. I know I resented them at times for the sadness and grief they caused her and the burden that they were to her by their own will. I can remember too often late night calls she'd get from one of them (there are 11 in all) that would quite literally and immediately bring her to her knees. So often I heard her say: "I have to pray for my kids."
Although, after she passed away, I should have rejoiced at their walking into a church, determined to give their lives to God one after the other, I was skeptical and bitter. Why, I wondered, couldn't they have done this while she was still alive? She prayed so hard and long for all of you, I thought, couldn't you have given her the peace she seeked in hoping you'd come to God?
I was determined, after her passing, not to make any effort to remain in contact with them. The separation, I've reasoned, will save me the displeasure of their negativity, bitterness, gossiping, arguments, angry words, quick tempers, unreasonable suspicions of everything and everybody. I could go on. Being around them makes me so anxious. I arrive home burdened by their discontent. It takes days for me to shake it off.
Regardless of my encouraging and positive words, despite my attempts to change the subject of conversation to more wholesome talk, I find the experience to be dark, heavy and absolutely exhausting. Like falling in quicksand, I find myself pulled down spiritually, struggling to pull myself back up and clean myself off. I'd rather avoid it all.
I should feel sympathy. I should try to help. But can you help someone who is satisfied with wallowing in quicksand? Would you reach out your hand if you knew they just wanted to pull you in? I don't want to be like that! I don't want to be like them.
But unfortunately I see shades of them in myself. When I speak in anger, when I complain, when I jump to conclusions - I hear them in me. I can't escape them, they are a part of me. I can't avoid them, they have all influenced my life and I have to deal with it daily.
I am guilty of ungrace.
I struggle with it daily. I see the flaws in my attitude that I've inherited. I hear the defects in my speech. I struggle with ungrace daily. How I long to break the chain of ungrace, not only for myself, but for my daughters. Titus 2 tells me to teach my daughters what is good, to be pure, self-controlled and kind. I am my daughters' first example for how to act and react in life. It is from me that they will learn how to speak to and of others. I will be their reference when they are forming their opinions and attitudes on life.
I don't want my struggles and the struggles of my family to form their characters, they deserve so much better. I need God's grace in my life if I hope to break the chain. I can't look at my life, my situation, or on others through my own imperfect eyes, but through God's lens of grace. If I hope to save my daughters from a road of suffering and bitterness, I need to avoid ungrace at all costs.
My past does not determine my future. What I come from does not dictate where I'm going. That's the hope of God's grace for me and my family. His sacrifice on the cross broke the chains that bound me, you and all of us.
All I can say is - Thank you Lord.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (Show me 2 Corinthians 12)But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.