Raining Grace


 

As a longtime spiritual director and a chaplain for all faiths, I’ve witnessed firsthand the workings of grace (which rains abundantly). Sometimes I wear a waterproof parka and can’t feel a drop. But Divine grace awaits my awakening to it.

I'll be posting entries on the first and third Thursday of each month. If you'd like them sent to your inbox, please click here.

I hope my reflections will help you remember what you've always known and live the truth within you.

Today, be aware.

God's Life floods your heart.

It's always Raining Grace.

 

 

 


April 18, 2019

Twilight Zone (Or Lost)

I was six years old, squirming in my chair. My haircut successfully completed, I was waiting for my mom’s hair to be finished.

“Honey, do you want to walk home by yourself?” Today Mom’s hairdresser would call Child Services, but we lived in a small town, it was a different time, and Mom’s offer seemed perfectly reasonable.

“302 East Main Street,” I recited in my mind. There were no turns involved, and I headed out. I walked. Walked. Walked. I took a deep breath and walked. Walked. Walked.

The numbers were getting closer and closer to 302, but nothing looked familiar. Finally, there was the number “302,” a filling station! I was starring in the scariest episode of The Twilight Zone possible.

Someone was looking out for me that day. A nice woman at the filling station noticed my tears and drove me home. I had walked far enough in the wrong direction to end up at 302 West Main St. Thankfully, the woman didn’t merely redirect me. She got in her car and took me home. She waited for me to go inside where my mom was in a panic because I wasn’t there.

Do you remember the feeling of being lost? The confusion. The fear. Eventually, the panic. When we are lost, emotionally or spiritually, all we need to do is reach out to God. The woman at the filling station that day was surely my God with skin on, revealing God’s character and care.

God sees our tears even before we shed them. He walks with us. Won’t leave our sides. If we wander off, He watches us, roots for us, moves heaven and earth to get us back on track.

The trick to the trek, to getting home safely, is to keep God always in sight, each day to look for and be aware of His presence, to never think we can or should walk all by ourselves. We are not created to be self-sufficient. Without God we separate ourselves from the fabric of our own Being. If we stay centered in God, we are our truest selves, and we save ourselves the agony of being lost.

Acts 17:28

Today, be aware.

God’s Life floods your heart.

It’s always Raining Grace.

 




April 4, 2019

Divine Encounter

I Struggled to Give My Son a Faith I Didn't Have 

I flew out of bed at the sound of Brian’s chilling screams. My five-year-old sometimes had bad dreams, but this was different. The air in his room seemed charged with danger and dread.

“It’s okay, honey.” I sat on Brian’s bed and patted his hands. “I’m right here. It’s just a nightmare.” I tried to assure both of us. 

Brian’s body remained rigid with terror. I flicked on the overhead light, kissed his cheek,  and carried him to the rocker. Brian was inconsolable.

It occurred to me that I should pray. In fact, I should pray out loud. But what if I prayed, and God did nothing? Brian was just learning about God. I needed to protect his young faith against the slings and arrows of outrageous life. Sometimes God’s “mysterious ways” made me doubt his providence altogether. “It’s okay, honey. Really. Shhhh,” I hushed in motherly tones. But Brian’s fear was building, not abating.

“Sweetheart,” I said in desperation, “let’s talk to God about this.”

“Dear God,” I began.

Between the words “Dear” and "God," Brian’s little body went limp with peace. My prayer wasn’t powerful, memorable, or well-spoken—a lackluster string of words—but it didn’t matter. The moment, the meeting, belonged to my son and God. My prayer trailed off with a final “Amen.”

As I rocked my peaceful child, I realized I’d had a wake-up call. Not Brian’s terrified screams in the middle of the night, but a wake-up call concerning my own lack of faith. After all, I’d been afraid to pray out loud with my son. I’d had so little trust that God would come through. In addition, it seemed I was interpreting the struggles in my life as some sign of abandonment. When God’s answers weren’t what I’d hoped for, I felt He hadn’t answered at all.

Brian stretched, re-positioned himself in my arms, and laid his head back on my shoulder. The warmth of his body comforted me.

I knew I had so much spiritual growing to do. I remembered the man in Scripture who asked Jesus to heal his son, telling Jesus, “I believe. Help my unbelief.“ I could identify! If doubts are part of being human, if they are natural, I needed the supernatural. I needed God’s grace. I knew faith was a gift God longed to give …

Brian interrupted my thoughts, sitting upright in my lap. His eyes wide with wonder, his little voice solemn with awe, Brian whispered, “Mommy, how did He get here so quick?”  

Mark 9:24

Today, be aware.

God’s Life floods your heart.

It’s always Raining Grace.

 

 

 


March 21, 2019

Tune in to the Drama Within

Many of us have more or less sworn off drama. We realize there are people who manufacture torment in their lives and relationships because it gives them something to do, enemies to fight, problems to gnaw on. We know there’s no need for such creative pursuits. There is authentic drama to be had. We live in a world where life and death decisions are sometimes demanded, where people fall in love, grow ill, choose between right and wrong … It’s not an uneventful, boring life! So we can say no to artificial drama and live in (relative) peace. And we’d be wise to limit our contact with drama-creators lest we become an actor on their stage.

But to secure true peace, we need to tune in to the interior drama, the conversations, confrontations, and battles within us. We may actually need to participate in this drama until things quite down inside, in our minds.

Most of us earthlings grew up in an imperfect world. Our siblings and classmates weren’t saints and our parents weren’t perfect. The voices of those early influencers still pipe up in our minds unless and until we’ve done some inner work. According to psychologist Donald Weaver, Ph.D., "We are each a committee of persons.” In our thoughts or self-talk, unrealistic demands from childhood are often still echoed by certain committee members. Many people have a relentless critic within them.

Greater than the danger of feeling oppressed, stressed, and depressed is the danger of thinking the voice of the demanding bully is the voice of God. A careful reading of the whole of Scripture tells us that God is love, not a big, old, judgmental tyrant. Spending time with God confirms that message in our minds and, more importantly, in our hearts. The inner voices need to be heard and some dissolved. Ask for God’s grace to discern what is of God. (Grace rains abundantly.)

I had a fairly good childhood, but (I tell myself) I’m sensitive. I made mild family dysfunction go a long way. At one point in my life, I decided I needed to be an involved, intervening parent to my somewhat trampled inner child/adult. I decided to stick up for the downtrodden within and put a halt to the words of the critical perfectionist my tormented committee members lived with. I realized I had been more compassionate to other people in my life, a much more vocal advocate for them, than I had ever been for myself.

If you decide to adopt the role of self-advocate and begin to listen to your inner dialogue, you can become an encourager, a comforter. You will perform better when you're not so abused. Decide to give the heckled and harried inner person a break. Actively stick up for your harassed committee member(s). Make sure a new, kinder voice rings through and rings true in your thoughts. A time will come when just awareness of what is going on inside your skin will be enough. You will find the bully or bullies are full of hot air and even a look their way is enough to silence them.

The more time you spend with God, the Source of all compassion, the easier it will be to be loving, even with yourself. Actually, the human predicament being what it is, sometimes the “least of your brothers,” the one you need to have mercy on, is yourself.

When you have compassion for yourself, there is more peace inside. A peace that is greater than the peace this world can give. It’s time to bloom in the sunshine of self-love.

(1 John 4:8)

 Today, be aware.

 God’s Life floods your heart.

 It’s always Raining Grace.

 

 © 2019 Sally Metzger

Unless otherwise noted, images are courtesy of the generous pixabay.com community.