Saturday, November 23, 2013

"I will open my hands..."

"I will open my hands,
will open my heart..."

Sara Groves' "Open My Hands," sets just the right tone for this post.

We'd just gotten home from dropping our youngest daughters off at the boarding school in Colorado they'd be attending through the end of high school. It had been 16 hours of driving through Colorado, Kansas, and finally Missouri. Although it was close to midnight, we weren't tired and decided to unpack the car.

I was carrying a large basket of linens up the front steps, when it seemed as if every joint in my hands, feet, legs, and arms just seized. The slightest movement was agonizing. I made it to our bedroom before dropping the basket.

I knew that pain. I'd been crippled by it for months -- some years earlier -- when the girls were toddlers. I'd found my freedom through prayer-based treatment, and had gratefully testified to that healing in an earlier article titled, "No Time for Arthritis," for The Christian Science Sentinel. That healing had felt so complete.  I knew I needed to be very quiet and listen.

As I sat on the edge of the bed with my hands in my lap -- unable to grasp even a book without weakness and pain -- I remembered the title of that article: "No Time for Arthritis." It came from a conversation I'd had with my mother - who'd been a young widow with eight children. When I asked her if she'd ever experienced the same symptoms (of what I'd been told was a hereditary disease) she said, "Honey, I just didn't have time for that."

That day, I'd claimed for myself that I didn't have time for "it" either. I was a young mother with three daughters, a busy practice, and countless volunteer commitments. I didn't have time for it either. And that was the beginning of a change in my thought and my body that resulted in complete freedom.

So what was this all about -- almost fifteen years later? As I let that question sift deeply into my heart, this line from a hymn came gently,  like a dove lighting on my heart:

"Here grasp with firmer hand
the eternal grace..."

Immediately One of my favorite definitions of the word "grace" joined it:

"The unearned,
and unmerited,
favor of God."

I got it. I'd somehow thought my freedom from the crippling symptoms of a debilitating disease were tied into my motherhood, my prayer-based work, my volunteer activities. I thought I didn't have time for "it," because I was doing the right thing, praying the right prayer, thinking the right thought. I somehow thought that God was rewarding my good thinking and behavior, with freedom. But where was grace in that. Did I think that prayer, mindfulness, and good works were the means to an end -- and that end was healing?

I re-centered my heart on the fact that I didn't pray to earn my Father's favor, I prayed because I loved God -- with all my being -- and loved time spent in communion with Him. I thought about Him because I loved Him. I did everything I did, because I loved Him. That was enough. That was the be all, and end all -- of all.

If I thought that I was free because I had small children to care for, where did that leave me when our youngest children left home. God loved me more than to leave me thinking that freedom was conditional. He loved me unconditionally. He loves all of us with amazing grace. I needed to accept this fact. And I did. I quietly finished unpacking, and went to bed resting soundly on this profound spiritual fact.

When I woke the next morning I was free -- truly free. Free to grasp, here and now:

"the eternal grace..." 

For me, grace is all about God. To "grow in grace" is to have a deeper understanding of Him. Of God. God, faithful to His name as Love. God, faithful to His nature as unconditional, impartial, and universal law. God unchanging in His favor. God loving His children, not because of our deserving, but because that is what a Father does. And me, I am His grateful daughter.

and I share this, with gratitude,


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