I don’t particularly like when I write posts like I did on Monday, mainly because it makes me feel a wee bit guilty.
You might think I’ve got this whole Lent thing down since I write about it so much. But I don’t. I tend to write the messages I myself need to hear, and when I do, God uses them as teaching moments for me.
“Elizabeth, you think people need to be offering more grace during Lent, do you? Well, wait until you see what’s on your plate for tomorrow…” (That’s my God voice.)
Yesterday I was presented with an opportunity to reach out to a neighbor and offer a bit of grace.
I didn’t want to.
I didn’t want to because it was going to impinge on my time set aside on Tuesdays and Thursdays to work on my thesis. (The truth is, I was willing to give up a portion of that time for a haircut appointment, but I wasn’t much feeling like giving it up for somebody else.)
I also didn’t want to because I just didn’t feel like it. I didn’t feel strapping my crabby, teething child into her carseat on such a cold, blustery day. I didn’t want to leave my house on a cold, blustery day either.
But I did it.
And I’m pretty sure I only did it because I wrote that blog post and didn’t want to feel guilty about not being willing to walk the talk.
Offering grace yesterday resulted in me ending up at the grocery store buying food I don’t normally buy.
I’m kind of particular about food. I try to buy ethically sourced food from companies I can trust. I try to avoid lots of preservatives and other chemicals. I buy local, fresh food when I can. And we grow food in our garden that we freeze and can for the winter. Yes, I’m a food snob.
And there I was, tossing prepared and processed foods from the freezer section in next to the three cases of high fructose corn syrup in my cart. Because that was the grace being requested.
I’ll confess that I was embarrassed as I walked to the check-out counter.
I was doing what I knew God wanted me to do, even if I did it out of guilt. I was offering grace, and I was embarrassed. Embarrassed. I didn’t want the cashier to judge me. And what if I ran into someone from church?
That’s a bit silly, don’t you think?
Silly and shallow.
Silly and prideful.
Silly and self-righteous.
Silly and sinful.
And this is what Lent teaches us–just how silly we can be.
We learn not just how much we have to offer (and how good at excuse-making we are for not offering it) but just how much we ourselves need grace.
I need grace. You need grace. We need grace.