"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Grace and Joy

It's been crazy lately.

My weekend was so busy I barely had a minute to spare -

Or sleep, for that matter.

My homework is currently next to me on my bed,

Twenty-five of fifty words phonetically transcribed (I hope),

Not counting the fact that I need to practice my guitar,

And study for a quiz tomorrow,

And study for a quiz on Wednesday,

And work on two papers,

And that's not counting the other things I know will be assigned during the week.

There'll probably be a couple tomorrow.

There'll definitely be a few on Wednesday.

And I'm going to a Bible study in less than three hours.

And I still have to eat dinner.

(If it sounds like I'm complaining, I promise I'm not.  I don't really mind - although it'd be nice if I could find a moment or two to turn my keyboard on this week.  There's just so much going on and not really any time for anything else.  That said, I need to get back to why it was important - at least in my mind - that I talk about why I have so much going on.)

Somehow, in the midst of everything that needs to get done, I took a couple of minutes to check my daily websites.

Now, there are six websites I check every day.

Three are Star Trek.

Two belong to singer-songwriters I like.

One is a blog.

A really, really good blog.

Well, once I got to reading Ann Voskamp's blog

And clicked on a couple of links,

I ended up spending about half an hour online,

Much more than the few minutes I intended.

I had read bits of her story after clicking the link in the margin a few days ago,

It amazed me to read about the pain she's lived with for years,

And that, in spite of it, she sees the grace and she chooses joy.

Even now, as she nears the end of her life,




Here, on this dreary, rainy day, nothing around me seems very joyful.

The people walk looking down at the wet sidewalk,

Hiding under hoods and umbrellas.

This morning, I was doing it, too,

Knowing plans for later,

Knowing what the wet would do to my hair.

After my plans were over

I walked outside again,

Five minutes to get a chai latte and five minutes back,

This time with hood down,

For the hour for presentable hair had passed

And all that was left was to be in the moment,

To live in the moment,

To stand in the rain

And call it grace.

Walking outside in the constant drizzle,

The kind of weather I love,

Soaking in the rain,

Praising God for grace,

Did something else in my heart.

It brought the deep-hidden joy to the surface.

It made me feel happy and blessed in spite of the stacks of homework,

In spite of dreary skies and people whose moods reflect the weather,

In spite of not enough time and unannounced cancellations,

In spite of sore knees and slow walking,

I found joy in the wet sidewalks,

Joy in the cloudy sky,

Joy in the rain making darkened spots on my sweatshirt,

Joy in feeling the water on my skin,

And joy in knowing that this is grace,

And it really is a choice,

For how else could we find one thing to be thankful for when there are a hundred other things going wrong?

More importantly, how else could we learn to be thankful for not only the one thing going right, but also the hundred other things we just wish would go away?

We have to choose to look.

We have to choose to see.

We have to choose a different perspective,

To choose to accept His perspective

Because we only see a tiny bit

And He sees the whole picture.

In choosing, we manage to see,

To see that, even when the world's just been turned upside down,

It's still grace,

For every moment might not have been given,

Every breath might not have been taken,

And if it weren't, that still would have been grace,

And it's crazy and radical and it seems slightly insane until you take the time to really try to understand it,

Take the time to start to see it,

For in learning to give thanks for the "good",

We become ready to give thanks for the "bad",

And in learning to give thanks for the "bad",

We begin to see that the "bad" isn't really bad in the way we thought it was after all,

For there was something good happening in the midst of it,

And sometimes that takes years,

But once we learn to see it all starts to make sense,

It all starts to fit together,

And everything really is abundant, relentless grace.

I thought about the grace walking to and from the café,

And I thought about the joy filling up my soul to know that it was grace,

For grace and joy are two separate things,

But they are interconnected.

It's hard to have joy without choosing to see the grace,

And it's hard to see the grace when a heart does not choose joy.

(At least, it makes sense that way in my head.)

I walked back to my room,

To my bed and my homework,

Thinking about grace

And about joy

And about the inspiring story of a woman named Sara who chooses to see both.

As usual, thinking involved words

And words started to rhyme

And include melody

And maybe a little accompaniment (Yes, I'm starting to hear the accompaniment, too!  Such grace!).

I got back to my room and decided to ignore the other twenty-five phonetic transcriptions for a while longer

While I wrote.

I don't know if I like it or not,

If it went where I intended it to go,

Whether or not it sounds too cliché,

But I wanted to share this early (and very imperfect) draft with you

In light of what I just talked for far too long about,

In the hopes that maybe, somehow, it will help you to see more of the grace,

To feel more of the joy.


The grey clouds have been hiding
The beautiful blue sky
For a long time.

The sun has not been shining
On this face of mine.
I am ready to break down and cry.

And as dreary days
Fade to dreary nights
I contemplate giving up the fight,
But then I remember it'll be alright.

I woke up this morning
And I could have sworn
That the weather has never been this bad before.

It's been constantly raining
And I've heard people say
That it will not be going away.

And as rainy days
Fade to rainy nights
I manage to swallow my pride
And let go of what I'd held so tight
'Cause it's not my life.

And somehow I will learn
That sometimes life just hurts
And that there's still a story
Just starting to unfold.
Maybe it'll be a good one
By the time it's told
If only I can learn to hold

And somehow I will change
How I look at this pain
And I will learn to see
That it's part of the play,
That each act has its troubles
But the end will be okay,
And it's all grace.
It's all grace.

For He might not have given
These breaths that I take,
Might not have made beauty to
Take my breath away,
And He must see a thirst
Or He would not have sent the rain,
So, although I can't see it,
I'll trust this is grace.

And if I choose to see grace,
I'll choose to live joy,

Even if I don't like the rain,
Even if I struggle with the pain,
His promise still remains,
And grace is a reason for joy
And it's all grace.

Grace is a reason for joy
And it's all grace.

Just f.y.i., it is no longer drizzling.  It is now pouring - and it sounds beautiful and the air feels cool and smells sweet and it really, really is all grace!
Also, sorry there aren't more pictures!  I don't have my camera right now.

The bold, italicized words are lyrics to the song "Grace" by Mary Schieferstein, ©2011 Mary Schieferstein.


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