Tuesday Grace Letter:2

March 11, 2014

Kara, the writer behind the Mundane Faithfulness blog, has invited other bloggers to participate in a practice of grace- writing letters every week, each letter with its own focus. I do not know Kara. We live in the same city and some of my friends and family know her, but I have only followed her story in bits and pieces as others have posted her blog posts to their Facebook pages. Kara’s story is heart-rending and powerful and in the midst of her own suffering, she gives people a glimpse of Christ in her, the hope of glory. Today’s assignment is to write a letter to a person who made a difference in my story.

******

To only think of one person who has made a difference in my life is incredibly difficult. I am a walking mural of other peoples fingerprints, hands that have shaped me some way, pushing me deeper, pulling from me the things I didn’t know I had, holding me, directing me… making me become something. So many fingerprints I couldn’t even begin to pick just one. So I didn’t pick just one (sorry, Kara)!

One truth that I have learned is that God brings people into our lives at various seasons. Some of them are there for a long, long time. Some only for a short time. Some offer us that one gift that is so desperately needed at that exact moment, and others offer multiple gifts we didn’t know we needed. And sometimes the people who mean the most don’t even know it. And there’s a precious goodness with that- when that one person shatters the walls we build up around us with a deep grace and then goes on their way not realizing they just caused a new and beautiful thing to emerge in us.

And so I just can’t write a letter to one person… I just can’t.Dearest friend,

If you only knew what it meant to me to have you enter my life at the time that you did. How our paths merged at just the moment, offering the mystery of grace and the hope of community, and the love of Jesus when I needed it- whether I knew it or not. You may not know how much you have shaped me in becoming something more, something more than I had been, something more that God was shaping. Or maybe you do know and yet you so humbly blush at the mention of it. Regardless, my life would never be the same without…

~Without you, Fred C., who met my family at the door each Sunday as you did your duties as an usher. Who knelt to your knees to greet us children, eye to eye as you handed us a bulletin and shook our hands and welcomed even us, the smallest, the least, those little things that most people wouldn’t necessarily regard. You made us feel like we were not just the future of the Church, but part of the Church right then, in those moments, with your hospitality. 

~Without you, Christy G., the beautiful senior in high school who took me under your wing and loved me in honest and hopeful ways as I entered the wilds of junior high. Though you were only my “big sister” for a short time, your acceptance of someone smaller and younger meted out a grace I had never known before. 

~Without you, Dale M., my high school principal, who saw my mind starving for the difficult conversations on life and theology and the beautiful mess of intersecting them, and who would call me out of class in order for us to chat through Augustine’s Confessions and the like. You somehow knew of my passions for theology and so, you slowly watered those seedlings, patient as ever with my youthful responses. 

~Without the farming couple who welcomed me to to my very first church call when I was just learning how to be married and trying to sort out my headful of knowledge from college, a young woman unsure of where she would end up and worried about life in a tiny space in Nebraska. You who stood at the bottom of the escalator with wide smiles and experienced eyes, the first taste of a community that showed me what it truly means to be the Salt of the Earth. I will not easily forget the big wet tears I cried as I laid my head on your shoulders in parting, or the way you stepped in as surrogate parents to celebrate my seminary graduation a few years later, or the constant open door of friendship and hospitality, even now as we grow older. 

~Without you, my professor-pastors- Jay, John, Brent, and others- who drew from me the words and inspiration to dare to think and worship and lead and love in ways that are deeply grounded in the Word named Jesus. Who opened up my heart and mind, who dismantled me so that the Spirit could rebuild me. Who taught me how to notice things with eyes that were eager to see in some small way what God might see. 

~Without you, my community of friends from seminary, who tumbled together with me through the stretches and strains of grad school, worshipping the same God and debating his ways with charity and kindness. Who learned with me to welcome others and to embrace one another. I am so amazed that some of you still walk with me and I with you throughout these many years and distances, learning the nuances of love and the sounds of growing faith and the urgings of grace. 

~Without you, the farmer and the gas company engineer- two men who led well and often, strengthened by their faith in Jesus, their belief in goodness. Who stood beside me to pick our way through the darkness of decisions that were well beyond our expertise. Learning to shepherd and pastor with such leaders as you still makes me smile and sigh and wonder when I might know you again. 

~Without you, my dearest friend, Dick L., who is colleague and friend and father all at once… and words fail me with you… because you have constantly held out the Light of hope and truth and life to me when I needed it most, patiently believing in who I was and who I was becoming and waiting loyally for me to realize it too. 

~Without you, Dave B., who knows me well and supports me still, even though we have only met face to face one time in our years. You who walked so tirelessly faithful through the darkness- one of the only who could do that, and from a distance no less. You who coached me in all things ministry and life, and who mentored my thoughts to see Jesus’ hope. You who always showed up full of the patience that only grows through deep friendship with God. 

~Without you, my dear Susan M., friend from the first day, who has remained so lovingly open to me despite difference and change. You who never forgets me, and one of the only ones who understands loss and pain and grief. You carry your own grief with such strength and beauty that it takes my breath away. You who lets me see in her eyes an understanding and an authenticity that is lacking in so many other places. 

~Without you, dear Nancy, who sits with me and lets me see love, unabashed and unashamed and bursting with the depth of a God who draws such compassion. Who loves me out of fear, who was able to reach into the shattered pieces of my soul and find a few shards and save them, only to eventually hold them out to me again and say, “Here, I’ve saved these for you. They are yours. Take them back.” 

~And finally, without you, John K., a stranger and the strangest of men, who I never really knew- no one did- and yet who was there when we had lost our baby, and we stood a week or so later, frail and broken and quivering with tears at the back of the church. Amid all the well wishers and Christian clichés and hugs that day, you stand out the most. You, odd man that you were, who no one would talk to, who walked up to us, put your hands on our shoulders and began to weep. And after a moment of weeping looked me clear in the eye and choked the words, “Weep with those who weep.” A long second of silent understanding, and the inner sound of my soul leaping to greet what I needed the most in those moments, and you were gone. Out the door. Never seen again. You, John, taught me more in those moments than I have learned in so many other experiences. Without you, I wouldn’t be who I am today. 

Yes… my life is a veritable mural of imprints. So many ways in which Jesus has surprised me in the faces and words and love of others. So many ways God has channeled my pathway back to him through the hands of others. So many I cannot name you all. Some imprints came through painful encounters, some through joy. All through grace… even the detractors. All is grace. All is grace. All is Jesus’ grace.

And so I can only lift my hands in thanksgiving to God and desire to live in your footsteps, knowing you chase these same Jesus, clumsily trying to follow your lead, and all the while, cherishing the gifts you so graciously gave to me. Forever. 

Thank you… 

Love, me

To read other Tuesday Grace Letters, please visit Kara’s blog at Mundane Faithfulness .

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