“God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance…”
Remember with me for a moment; remember times, seasons, places, people with whom you felt safe. Remember scenes of rest, fun, beauty. My beloved grandmother will turn eighty-eight this year. I take my little one to spend time at her house each week, because I want my girl to soak up the feeling of my grandmother. I want her warmth to be imprinted onto Charlotte’s heart, just as pain and hardship surely will be. We sit on her mustard gold couch, with cushions so deep my feet still cannot touch the floor. My back, burdened by adulthood, sinks into the same fabric that held me when I was four.
My little girl, almost seven, climbs into my grandmother’s lap for a back rub. She backs up to her, actually, and hops gently in, because my grandmother’s arms have held eighty-eight years of weight. Her arms are tired, yet welcoming. Her skin thinning, porous from having cared for so many who have loved her and hurt her. She says all kinds of southern things like “well, I’m just going to worry about that tomorrow,” and “you know, I never say a word about a secret told to me.” Graceful living matters to her, but she is not flimsy. And her living room is the bedrock to which I have been returning for as long as I can remember.
I sit and watch her hold my barefoot daughter, cupping her little feet in weathered hands. We are all at rest. And I realize why I always return to her. My heart needs to see love like this. Love that allows me to be little, to be held and have my fears hushed. I return because my grandmother is an image of the True. It’s as if I don’t quite believe I am held, little feet cupped, needs tended to. It’s as if the voice inside my head pushing me toward change is not the same as this affection and acceptance in front of me. My internal voice often sounds more like the weary thin voice that hurries my child along in our morning routine. As if there is a rush to fix things that I cannot fix.
This woman is a presence who stills my harsh internal critic. There’s no question she delights in us, that we are free to stay as long as we need to, that she wants to be with us. She is Jesus’ welcome in my life. She is His signpost to me: I am saved by grace alone. I am delighted in because He is my Father, and I am part of His family. This alone is what brings change. Without merciful involvement, I will continue to self-rely, to try to self-propel forward, right smack into bitterness. He pulls me from my ocean of doubt, from waves too strong for me, from my determination to piece together a life I think I need to have.
Remember with me. You have them too. Signposts of His kind pursuit are all through your story, studding dark and confusing seasons, pointing to a love that leaves you changed, and to an acceptance that ends striving. There is a map that measures the journey deeper than your trouble. It points over and over to His movement into your life. He does for you what you cannot do for yourself, ending the strain of your sin so that you may climb into His welcome and rest. His kindness is so unlike the harsh critic pushing around your insides. Come, be reminded in His presence, restored to the truth of His kindness.
Meredith joined The Barnabas Center staff in January 2009, upon completing her Masters in Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and her Bachelors in Religion and Psychology from Furman University. She counsels, leads women’s groups and teaches a seminar called “Hope in the Darkness” for those walking with individuals suffering from depression or bipolar disorder.
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