Courageous Grace

I'm a Bears fan!  For you non-football fanatics, that would be the Chicago Bears.  Blue and Orange.  Home to the Windy City!  Da Bears! 

I come by it honestly.  I can remember fall Sundays of popping popcorn and sitting down with my dad to watch the game.  Quality time with dad who loved the sport.  And the excitement when my team won!  

Since I've moved to Minnesota, I have a deep sense of Chicago pride.  I root for bears, and cubs, and yes, Italian beef sandwiches.  And yes, in that order.  

This year, has been kind of a bust.  The Cubs have continued to succumb to the goat and lost, I haven't had a Italian Beef sandwich in over 365 days, and my Bears, well they didn't look so hot this year.  Last in their division.  Losing more than winning.  It seemed like a disaster.  

But I'm still a fan!  I still love the blue and orange.  It reminds me of a time much more personal than a sports team.  It was with a friend.  You see, at this time in my life, I was a bit of a mess.  I was emotional.  I was angry.  I didn't quite know how to express myself.  Our friendship had gone through some ups and downs.  And I was not achieving my big goal or working in ministry full-time.  I was a wreck. 

My friend, who was in ministry full-time, took me along to a ministry conference.  I was so excited.  Until we began to disagree.  Until I became jealous of her status.  Before I began to lose it and become slightly emotionally unstable.  

Here's the thing:  I always operated out of the notion that they should never see us have a need.  The "they" are the people in our lives.  To be loved, we need to have it together.  Say the right things.  Play it cool.  Not be too needy.  Understand what we're saying and why we're saying it.  There was no room for messy in my relationships. 

Until that day. 

That day, including arguing.  That day, which included a little yelling.  That day, which included a little stomping off.  

That day included the words that changed the trajectory of my life and heart.  

I am not going anywhere.   That's what she said in this middle of all this fighting. I am not going anywhere. 

Those five words touched me in a way I could never have imagined.  If I revealed the mess I really was on the inside, would anyone stay? Would people still love me if they really knew me?  Could I be messy and loved? 

The answer was yes.  

A little side note: it wasn't perfect.  I was still licking my wounds when we returned to Minnesota.  And it took me a while to reconnect.  But years later, as I look back on that event, those words were a healing balm to my weary heart and soul.

You see, I was a performer.  Not on the high wire in the circus.  But I was afraid to let others see my inward thoughts, my inward fears, my unhealthy ways of relating.  So, I kept it all in. 

But that day, my friend reached in and pulled me out.  She committed.  She loved me through the hurt feelings I had caused and refused to leave when it got hard. 

We all need that, don't we?  We need to hear those words.  I am not going anywhere. 

If you haven't heard these words in a while, it may be the secret to your healing.  The secret to running your race for Christ.  The secret to walking fearlessly in freedom. 

On the flip side, we all need to choose to say these words.  I've been reflecting lately that I want to give that love, that healing to someone else.  I want to pay it forward.  I want to change someone else's life by refusing to give up on them.  Refusing to walk away when they don't have it all together.  When they need me most, I want to choose to be there for them. 

It's not easy.  In fact, the person who did this best was Jesus.  God.  He stayed around knowing He would be killed on a cross.  And it won't be easy for you or for me.  

Grace.  Unmerited favor.  It comes to us through Jesus when we don't deserve it.  And through his strength, allows us extend grace to the people He blesses us with. 

The freedom to not have it all together.  The freedom to be human.  The freedom to be messy.  That's what life is all about.  

One foot faith takes risks by extending grace even when it's hard.  One foot faith makes a commitment to the people in our lives to love because we were first loved by God.  One foot faith is willing to say "I'm not going anywhere....go ahead and get messy".

By the way, that friend is still in my life and while she doesn't need to reassure me with "I'm not going anywhere speeches" she continues to bless me with words of strength and wisdom. 

As far as Da Bears go, I'd like to say I'm not going anywhere.  See you next fall!