Guilt Can’t Live Where Grace Rules

The house is empty. The dishwasher is running. My daughter just shut the front door. I am alone. Maybe it’s only for a few minutes. I don’t really know. But one thing consuming my thoughts today: guilt cannot exist with grace.

Guilt may try to stick itself to grimey counters and flea-ridden rugs, but it cannot live with or exchange air with or coexist in a house with circulating grace.

Our family just travelled for over a month to three continents. We fought, grumbled, and complained on all three. We wearied of rolling luggage farther than Google Maps promised. We got sick of feeling slightly off-kilter on a luxury cruise ship.

We tried to see the best in each other most days, and often failed miserably.

Now we are home.

I see all I have with new appreciation: my fluffy bed, just firm enough. My big ‘ole house which can’t seem to cool down enough in the 90 degree heat. The fridge humming a little louder each day. But an intruder has tried to wedge its way through the closed front door.

My good pal, Guilt. I never invite her in, but she puts up a fine sweet-talking argument through the storm door. She’s loud, and darn it, she’s always ringing the door. Through the layered walls of my own house, she tells me my kitchen is a shambles, my kids are atrocious, I spent too much money on travelling, and I’m a miserable failure at everything.

She says I need to send my kids to a every camp available this summer, I’ve got to write like a mad woman to make a mark on the world, and doggoneit, I should be meeting everyone’s needs, but certainly not my own. She tells me I have to take up cross after cross.

I sit with now. You and me. A blank screen ready for words and this soothing ideology: grace.

The stirring of peace when I hear life happening, whether the washing machine or the door slamming after kid feet run down the driveway. The silence when nothing is happening at all. The knowing I bought bananas way too ripe, the black spots reminding me I’m ready for this shift.

I’m stepping into summer wide-armed and present.

Welcome, Mess.

Welcome, Imperfection.

Pull up a chair, Real. Tweet This

Come on in, Friends.

Guilt sits outside begging to be heard.

She’s a little kid, always running hard, insatiable in her hunger and thirst. Grace stands up at the table and lays a hand on my shoulder. “Let’s take her a glass of water, what do you say?”

“Will that shut her up?”

“Maybe. That’s up to you. Guilt always knocks, but she can’t live where Grace abounds.”

I see our pile of shoes by the front door, the ever-taunting mountain harboring dirt from all the places we’ve been. I remember how we dangled our sweaty legs in the Adriatic as we chugged soda as we sat on an old wall, Together. I sensed peace lapping at the rocks at Capernaum and our desire to bottle the moment immediately. I can’t shake  the spiritual glue which bonded our hands as we prayed over pasta and wine in Giudecca.

Someone comes through the door. My husband passes through, sweaty from staining deck furniture. I’m not helping, I’m writing. I cringe for a second. Silence broken. He exists as quickly as he entered.

“Well?” Grace asks, “Can we continue this conversation?”

I nod, knowing this afternoon respite is as true as walking through the front door after being away a month and opening the front door of home, always waiting, always shaping.

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June 17, 2017