I know, I know. I keep saying that my next blog is going to be about “How to Deal with Negative Emotions.” Not only has it taken me like three weeks to get around to writing this time (Sorry! Job change, moved, my life is crazy right now, really!) but I’m also not going to write about that. Ha. I tried. I’ve sat around three times this week for hours and written a stale blog about how to deal with scary, difficult experiences. I’m sure it will come together someday.
But right now, that’s just not where I’m at. Right now, I continue to be in a place where I’m tuned into and overwhelmed almost daily, by the grace of God. The beautiful, undeserving, unending grace of the living God.
The title of my website, She Smiles, has a funny little backstory. When I was in high school there was this sweet old lady who would tip-toe her way into our small Baptist church, alone and oddly happy, every time the church doors were open. I remember one Sunday morning,, when I’d rather be at home sleeping, I was getting coffee and not really talking to anyone when she scooted by, walker and all, and smiled at me. She looked genuinely happy and without thinking I said “What are you smiling about?” to which she said “Oh, you always gotta smile, makes people wonder.”
Haha. I have never ever forgotten her lighthearted statement. What an awesome old lady. Make’s people wonder.
It does, doesn’t it? A genuine smile makes people wonder, especially when it’s on the face of a person who by the worlds standards, shouldn’t be smiling. Someone who is old, alone, hurting. Shoot, let’s get specific. Someone who isn’t beautiful, isn’t in love, has a terminal illness, doesn’t have a lot of money, is tired and needs to be alone, the list goes on and on. Anytime someone smiles when things aren’t going their way, it’s intriguing.
It’s also Biblical.
I’m like crazy passionate about how stupid culture is. Ha. More specially how much it lies to women and leads them to lives that are empty and cause a lot of pain. All the self, all the sexiness, all the chasing of power and men and perfection leaves beautiful, happy women in a heap of disappointment every day. I know this because I see it all the time.
This past week an awesome young girl who I know from the college I work at came into my office to tell me why she hasn’t been herself this semester. She told me that a few months back she “had her first time” and it resulted in getting pregnant, which then lead her to the choice of having an abortion. A few months removed and in her own words, she “can’t get past it.” After it was done she said she started to do some research about why she wasn’t feeling ok and discovered that some 80% of women grieve after an abortion and some 60% grieve for the rest of their lives. “Where was the statistic beforehand?” she asked me, with tears in her eyes.
As she sat there in my office my heart physically felt pain for her. What was done was done. She had listened to the world. Sex is your choice. Abortion is your choice. Neither is a big deal. And the world had been very wrong.
Another girl came in to talk to me this week and asked me if we could do some abstinence programing at the college. Of course I thought that was an awesome idea, but knowing that I’m not at a Christian school I asked, why. She said “because, all the girls on my hall on losing their virginity and it’s sad. I can always tell when they’ve done it for the first time. They stop talking. They shut down. They get quiet and weird. It makes me sad.”
When the credits roll on the latest movie or reality show….this is what’s left, young girls who should be full of life who aren’t even talking. It makes me sad too.
So what does any of this have to do with Grace?
Ok…so in the middle of these conversations this week…and in the middle of my own stupid, selfish sin which seems to come in waves sometimes, I continue to just hear God whispering in my ear “There is grace for even that.”
There is grace for even that.
There is grace for the girls who have one-night stands. There is grace for the ones who have had an abortion. There is grace for me and all my habitual sin.
There is grace for even that.
I just want to share a few, quick thoughts about this Divine Grace that has been all over my life lately.
GOD’S GRACE PROTECTS US
I honestly believe that the guidelines laid out for us in the word of God are for our benefit. You know I hear the phrase “God doesn’t want us happy, he wants us holy” often. Honestly, I don’t really like that. I get the point, but it misses the bigger picture.
Holiness is when we are most happy. They aren’t mutually exclusive.
Sure fleeting pleasure comes from chasing highs and following our hearts. I guess if that is “happy” to you then yea, God doesn’t want us happy. But I think happy is being able to look in the mirror and like who you are. I think happy is being able to give of yourself to others. I think happy is a deep, real, loving community with people who support your strengths and forgive your weaknesses. I think happy is exploring, wonder, lightness, worship, nature, love and yes, the help from God to wait for God’s good timing in all of that.
God’s design is for the protection of our Joy.
Don’t people get that? Don’t they see that while doing things God’s way and not “my way” might be hard, it might be really hard, but it’s for our ultimate peace and joy?
For the lovely, young woman who sat in my office this week, the one who had an abortion, I bet she wishes someone would have told her that.
GOD’S GRACE MAKES US FEAR LESS
I don’t like trials or suffering but I have started to realize that it is only when I walk right through something that I fear, that the fear goes away.
I don’t want to be alone, God.
Be alone, Rebekah.
Oh it’s not that bad!
I don’t want to breakup with this guy, God.
Break up with him, Rebekah.
Oh, You were there to hold me.
I don’t want to fail at my job, God.
You didn’t get the promotion Rebekah.
Oh, it’s not about me anyway, is it God.
On and on it goes in my life. I get sick-to-my-stomach anxious about something or live in fear of something and often times, I am asked to walk directly into it. Is this mean of God? It is a joke? Sometimes in the middle of it I think it is…a sick joke.
But when I emerge and recognize that the fear of being alone, fear of difficult emotions even fear of traumatic situations, no longer really hold any power over me, I am thankful that I got to experience GOD’S GRACE being enough in reality, not just in theory.
I think the concept of being “fearless” is kind of dumb. We are just people, living in a big scary, sinful world. But we definitely can begin to fear less when we experience God helping us overcome this world, one trial, one trauma, and one confession at a time.
GOD’S GRACE MAKES US BEAUTIFUL
Like tip-toes said to me that Sunday morning so long ago, a smile makes people wonder. It also makes a woman beautiful. It’s a simple point that I am about to make here, but it’s my favorite one.
There is no magazine column, no night cream, no Botox in the world that brings kindness and calm to the eyes of a woman. The only thing that does that is the Grace of God.
And that look, the one of kindness in a world of bit*** women, does make people wonder. The eyes of calm in a world of chaos, does make people look twice. It is hard to look away from beauty in a storm.
So how do we achieve this, exactly? Beauty in a storm?
For me personally, it’s simply taking the time every morning to say “God, I put you in the number one place in my heart today. Not this relationship or that. Not this fear or that. Not money or sex or the future. You get the top spot because you are God and I am not. Because you are wise and I am not. Because you are in control and I am not.”
A woman letting go of control…that’s beauty.
To the young woman I spoke to this week, I have something I want to say to you. If you walk towards God and let Him in, Grace can do something with your situation, and I don’t just mean forgive it. Grace doesn't just forgive….it redeems. It doesn't just roll its eyes and say “Ok, I’ll forgive you” it reaches down and makes good come out of bad. It causes life to spring up out of death.
Like Adam being made from dirt, like Jesus raising from the dead…God’s grace doesn't just comfort, it is not just “enough” to get us through….it is abundant to the point that it actually takes sin and suffering and breathes life into them, creating something out of nothing.
Transfiguring grace is hard to explain. I just know that in my life it has protected me, made me fear less and made me smile, at the oddest moments.
Grace is why I smile.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16
Go boldly and receive.