What does grace look like?
“What does grace look like?” My sister asked the question from a heart of desperation. She remembered what grace felt like, but was nearly frantic for a hand to hold as she went on the search for more grace – whatever that might look like.
PHOTO: BEN JESSOP
I reminded her of our niece, Kara Tippetts, who makes her home in heaven now after a hard-fought battle against cancer. But before she left, God threw open the doors to an audience of blog followers reading Kara’s “Mundane Faithfulness.” She tells me the story this morning and says, “I’d go bonkers if you didn’t answer your phone.” And we laughed a little bit but cried a bit more. My sister, who taught classrooms of elementary children for decades, found herself unable to journey from bed to bathroom. And a kind of reality hit than can linger, unrelenting, clear into the morning light. Annie rang her buzzer and the CNA came – as fast as she could – but not fast enough. Accidents happen in the night when a person has drunk water, but can’t get out of bed without help. And so dignity takes a dive to the bottom of the deep, blue sea. Annie woke on her third morning in a skilled nursing facility. The night had been long and dark, and she experienced moments of sadness as she tried to maintain a semblance of dignity. Which can be challenging in that particular environment, you might know.
That’s when Annie asked me, “What does grace look like?” So together, over the phone, Annie and I began looking for – and finding – evidence of God’s amazing grace:
the warm smile of a CNA coming with water
a physical therapist who showed her how to slow her walker on a ramp
a girlfriend who made sure there was “something pretty” wherever Annie looked in her room
a sliding glass door framing the nearby willow tree…
PHOTO: ARTEM BALI
The past few days I’ve been reading Just Show Up, written by Kara and her friend, Jill Lynn Buteyn. The stories are an honest telling of the pain-filled years of a life well-lived and a friend who walked close beside. The title sums up true community beautifully. Kara concludes each chapter with two questions. Chapter One is titled “The Value of Showing Up,” and doesn’t end until Kara extends her challenge. I send Kara’s questions along today suggesting you, too, may...
Pull up a chair and sit still with them:
1. The first step in showing up is in answering the question Who? Who do you know who is currently suffering and may need you to show up for them? You might not know right away. Then again, you may already be sure. If it’s not clear, ask God to bring that person’s name or face to your thoughts, and trust your thoughts when they come. 2. Once you’ve got that person in mind, what fears or anxieties do you have about showing up for them? You may not have a long list, but there will always be one or two. It’ a good idea to write these down or share them with a trusted friend. The most important thing at the outset is to name those fears because that takes away some of their power.
A NOTE: After writing this piece, I realized this might seem like an unusual topic to share as we look back at Good Friday and forward to Easter morning. But after pausing to reflect, I remember the stories of how our Jesus suffered, and those who showed up – or didn’t – for Him. Jesus suffered. And before leaving earth, He told us to love God and love others. Some days helping another in pain discover grace is a way to love.