Shattering the Limits of Grace
by nina singhapakdi | twitter: @ninaspakdi | facebook: nina singhapakdi | instagram: @ninasinghapakdi.
I have a friend who’s currently in the midst of a very heartbreaking divorce. Even though I can’t emphasize with what she’s going through, I’ve been the shoulder for her tears throughout this whole difficult season. What’s heartbreaking is that when she talks about her fears and her pain, one of her biggest fears revolves around what people will say to her.
The heartache hasn’t been as heavy as the shame.
Today, I sat with her for a cup of coffee at a favorite mutual place and listened to her place her vulnerability on the table between us.
“They’re going to ask me if we ever considered reconciling,” she said. “What will I say in response?”
“You could sarcastically reply, ‘Oh, like we never touched on that in the two years of counseling we were in together.’” I rotated my coffee cup on the table before running my finger down the length of a fork — fidgeting with objects relaxes and focuses me during conversations — before finishing, “Or, you could just say nothing. Your divorce — the bruises and falls you acquire throughout your life story — is between you and God.”
She nodded thoughtfully, staring out of the window at passerby. “They’re going to say that God doesn’t find my divorce forgivable,” she whispers.
I looked into her eyes. I didn’t know — truly KNOW — how she was feeling as her marriage was crumbling, leaving her faced with the assumtions of strangers. But what I DID know, I shared with her:
“I don’t believe in a God whose grace is as limited, shallow, or circumstantial as they make it sound. No matter how deep the cuts are for you, his grace reaches even deeper. It seeps through your pores and goes down into the soul, healing you and your bruise from the inside-out. To believe that Jesus’s grace is circumstantial, to say that that it applies to certain things and not to others, contradicts the entire notion of grace to me.
“Grace can’t be earned, it can only be given. To say that it’s circumstantial implies that it can be earned by avoiding the things it doesn’t cover and then staying within the ones that it does. That’s not how grace works.”
“Yes,” she whispered, reaching over and squeezing my hand. Hope glimmered in her eyes but then suddenly, it was replaced by fear. She let go of my hand and sat back in her hair and sighed.
I offered her all of the truth and love that I could possibly muster:
“Your ending this emotionally abusive marriage doesn’t show anything about how much you value marriage. It doesn’t say anything about whether you can maintain a health relationship. It doesn’t mean that you don’t keep commitments. You have to hold onto grace even when those around you don’t see it.”
Grace. It’s limitless and deep and sweet.
It’s the stuff of the best worship songs. The things we cry-sing about at church.
Grace. It’s so amazing.
Yet at one point or another, we each find ourselves in seasons that we think are the exception. We do something or struggle in a certain area and think: Grace? That’s beautiful and Hillsong. But it won’t cover me.
Not this time. Not this mistake. Not this backstep.
Last week, I wrote in my journal: “I don’t know how God can keep on loving me when I’m so undeserving. I don’t know why he continues to put up with me and my mess.” And we all feel like that sometimes.
We wonder why God “puts up” with us over and over again or how he can forgive us THIS time. It’s like we subconsciously think that God’s grace IS limited, even though every praise song we sing is about his endless mercy and compassion.
Anything that claims God’s limitless grace is limited is a LIE.
A chain that bounds you to your guilt and your shame when He sent His son to die on the cross so that you could finally break free.
We are the ones who place these limits on grace. NOT Him.
So if you’re feeling ashamed or morose about a chapter in your brave life story, pull out a piece of paper and write these words on it:
Then hang it up wherever your beautiful and brave self can see it every single day. Read those words. Read. Them.
Let them tattoo themselves onto your soul.
HEY. YOU. God’s grace is wild as the stars and deep as the ocean. There’s no cut so deep that it can’t heal. It covers all smudges and smears and stains.
His merciful hand takes the dust and turns it into redemption.
He takes your story and clothes it in dignity.
He’s loyal and true and cannot lie.
He keeps His covenant that He made with you.
You’re one of God’s preferred humans. YOU. YES, YOU.