"Your grace is enough
I'm covered in your love
Your grace is enough for me...."
My friend Mindy asked me to participate in her church's* worship "gathering" last Sunday, by joining her for a discussion on "unconditional love." Chris Tomlin's praise song, "Your Grace is Enough," led by their fellowship's band, was the prelude to that conversation. It was perfect.
I am discovering, more and more, that there is, there can be, no separation between grace and unconditional love. I cannot love unconditionally, or as my friend Susan Dane says, unreasonably, without grace.
Some of my favorite definitions of grace are:
"the free, unmerited, undeserved, and unearned favor of God"
"the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in the life"
I believe that it is impossible to love unreasonably...beyond reason, and all human reasoning...without this kind of grace that is the very coincidence of the human and the divine within us. One cannot find the depth of heart to love without the ego's permission...especially when everything in you, and everyone around you, is saying "they don't deserve it,'" without self-dissolving grace It would be incomprehensible without Love's immanence, without God's unopposed influence on the heart...which overrides self-justification and the desire to "weigh in" on someone else's choices, a favorite activity of the ego...without the power of grace.
And in kind, one cannot accept this kind of unreasonable, unconditional love without grace. It would be impossible for the human heart to genuinely receive love...when it feels undeserving...without a humble yielding to God's right to show us "unearned favor," and allow it to penetrate remorse, regret, self-doubt, and the ego's inclination to self-justify or hide its failings.
Once this love-without-reason pierces the false membrane of self-preservation, it permeates every mental molecule of hardness, and begins to dissolve sin in the way Christ models for us in the garden of Gethsemane when he kisses his betrayer, and restores the ear of his captor. We don't find him weighing the consequences of his favor..."Hmm, does he deserve to be whole? Will this healing make him think I don't mind being led away in chains? What message am I sending by letting him kiss me?" He knows that it is God's province to correct and govern, and it is his right, by "the grace of God," to love, love, love. For this cause came he.
I have made many mistakes in my life. Sometimes those mistakes have left me feeling undeserving of love or mercy. But it has only been a radical understanding of grace that has allowed me to rise above (or perhaps more accurately kneel below) the floods of self-hatred, to accept the generous gifts of unconditional love from those who are so deeply devoted to their own "growth in grace," that allow my mistakes to become their opportunities to love more, and more, and more...relentlessly more.
There are acts of divine reciprocity that are beyond reason. Mandela's forgiveness of his oppressors after 26 years in captivity - including the brutal treatment of his people - and the reconciliation that this made space for, in a nation poised for justifiable vengeance. An Amish community's genuine care for the family of a gunman who took the lives of its innocent school children one bright, clear autumn day sweet with promise. The courage it takes to reach out and be kind on a playground, when it would be just as easy to walk the other way.
As I said on Sunday, I have never learned to make better choices by being rejected, or ignored. It is love, unreasonable, undeserved, unwarranted love that has taught me most about the kind of woman I want to be. It is grace that allows for the generosity of the giving, and grace that allows me to receive it into my heart and let it have its way with me...making me want to be worthy of its gift. This grace allows us to not only embrace the sorrowing, the weary, the prodigal child, but to gives her opportunities to serve side-by-side with the giver.
In the Bible John witnesses that:
"And of his fullness have we all received,
and grace for grace.
"For the law was given by Moses,
but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
I love Moses for his courage, his commitment to Principle, his devotion to following His Father's voice as he led his people out of bondage, and his dedicated example of obedience to divine law. But I know, that for me, it was Jesus who taught us how to live this "grace for grace," how to practice this unconditional love, how to yield to this unwarranted divine care, in the garden. Mary Baker Eddy's definition of "Gethsemane" in the Glossary of Science and Heath with Key to the Scriptures says it all for me:
GETHSEMANE: Patient woe;
the human yielding to the divine;
love meeting no response,
but still remaining love.
It is this unprecedented Gethsemane love that has most changed my life over the years. It is this unreasonable love that has taught me, transformed me, given me purpose, and shown me who I am, and who I am designed to be. It is this love without reason, without response, without condition, without deserving, without merit that has truly taught me that "Your grace is enough for me."
Kate Robertson, CS
*Next Generation Christian Science Fellowship