Does anybody else find roundabouts confusing? There’s a new one close to where I live and I was trying to picture in my mind where the exits would lead but simply wasn’t sure. (There is nothing logical about my sense of direction…)
One day when I had a few extra minutes, I took one of the exits to see where it would lead and ended up where I still recognized where I was but it wasn’t where I thought I would be. At least I wasn’t going around in a circle afraid to exit for fear of getting lost anymore.
I got stuck on a roundabout in my brain recently that had me sucked into the circle, confused as to which exit to take for fear of taking the wrong one. For a couple of days I felt as if I were on a ride where the gravity of spinning keeps your back against the wall. It does keep you from falling but also from going anywhere but around in a perpetual circle.
I could choose the road marked Picture Perfect for People. I have taken this exit before. It leads to a subdivision called Show Well Way. And even lived on Legalism Lane for a short stint.
In this neighborhood, you go to church every time the doors are open and work at every event offered, otherwise you will a.) “miss the blessing of God” or b.) get ostracized the next time you go. The verse to not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25) gets layer upon layer of rules added to it.
Condemnation is king. I once heard a lady say as she was walking out the door, I love to hear him preach. I feel so condemned when I leave. I thought she was joking at first but sadly she was not. (The Holy Spirit convicts not condemns…there is a difference.)
Perfection is preferred. Fight with your husband, spank your kids in the car, be depressed and deal with your junk on the way to church but when you walk through those doors…coiffe your hair, smooth your skirt and put a smile on your face. When someone asks you how you’re doing simply say, fine. You don’t want to be the one who puts the scratch on the vinyl of perfection.
All the while, people are hurting. People are struggling. People are wondering if they are the only one.
No. That’s not the exit I want to take nor the subdivision I want to live in. I sold that house long ago.
So I go back around the circle. I can choose the exit marked God’s Grace is Good.
When I first met people who were grace extenders…those who don’t purse their church lady lips and tell your daughter that it takes one sip of alcohol to be on the road to an AA meeting…it took awhile to let my guard down, to let them in, to simply be me.
But I’m so glad I did.
I am not perfect. My family is not perfect. We struggle. We fight. We have had renegades and seasons where depression almost won. I have a tattoo, (read more about my experiences with that here: ) drink wine on occasion and call the deer flies a bad name when I’m mowing and they’re biting.
And I love the Lord more now than ever.
Some will say, this is blasphemy, tear their clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes. They will say that I’m taking advantage of God’s grace. I don’t think so. Which is worse…
Giving the false persona that I am a perfect Christian woman who has her act completely together. Or admitting where I’m flawed but always pointing the way to the One who is not.
When I was living on Legalistic Lane, I was worried about what people thought of me, but not necessarily what God thought of me. Perception was everything no matter how I was actually living. I tried to be good for the sake of show. Now I’m just me. I’m not afraid to admit where I fall short knowing his grace is enough for me in this moment. If I’m struggling in an area, I ask for help.
But aren’t you abusing grace? some may ask. God’s grace isn’t a ticket to sin. In fact its affect has just the opposite. It’s this grace, not people and their doctrines, that now drives me to continue to grow…in my faith, in my love for him and the people he puts in my path and yes, strive to be more obedient to what His Truth says to do. (And ask for forgiveness when I mow!)
I am a work in progress. And will continue to be until the day I meet the Lord face to face.
And so, for a hot second, I thought about taking the exit of picture perfect and moving back to the old ‘hood. But then said, nah, there’s no reason to be afraid to take the exit of the goodness and grace God has for simply being me.
The funny thing is whether you resonate with the first exit or the second; both are in need of Grace. So…
Just be you and I’ll just be me. And together we’ll be ever thankful for Grace.