This past weekend, I was privileged to get to go “home” to Texas to attend my youngest nephew’s wedding. Let me just say…it moved me to tears. He is only 19 years old, and his new bride only 18…for the love of matrimony!! Yet, in spite of their young ages, I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that they’re gonna make it. Their hearts are in the right place…their vision and purpose for their future is clear…and their love is undeniable. It was a precious wedding (Zelda theme, no less) and I could see the future in their love-filled eyes. This is no fly-by-night commitment. It’s the real deal.
While I was there, there was coming a time during the weekend when I was going to see, for the first time since Christmas, a very close family member that has been “estranged,” for lack of a better word, from our family because of bad decisions he has confessed that he’s made. I saw him at Christmas, loved every moment with him (as I always do)…but around New Years, he admitted to the family that he had made some horrible decisions that would affect many aspects of not only his own personal life, but the lives of our family members.
He has confessed, repented and is seeking reconciliation (even though there are more consequences he must face in the near future.) But the “fellowship” is damaged and is in need of continued repair. Trust is still being rebuilt.
Anyway…this moment was approaching when I was going to be seeing him face to face…for the very first time since all of this information has been made public…knowing what I know and him knowing what I know.
I texted my closest friends and prayer-partners, asking them to pray this exact prayer: “Pray that he feels my acceptance of him…to add another layer of grace on his troubled heart.”
That’s it, isn’t it? Grace? Layers of grace?
As I was talking to my parents one morning about this very thing, mentioning the “layers of grace,” I realized that…that’s it! Layers of grace.
Recently, for some odd reason that I won’t even try to figure out (cuz it ain’t necessary)…I’ve been thinking a lot about and watching documentaries about and reading about…monarch butterflies. And at the same time, a friend from high school has been posting online about monarchs that have come to her house in Texas, the caterpillars eating her “caterpillar-friendly” plants, then forming cocoons on the eaves of her house and other places. It fascinates me!
Then I finally made a connection…a realization.
These caterpillars form these cocoons around them in order to make a miraculous, dramatic transformation inside…they transform from a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. A completely different creature!
It hit me…that’s what happens to us! We all need to change from the sinful, rotten life that we have been living until now, into a brand new creature. The changing process can’t be easy. It must be rather painful for that little guy. But what comes out of that cocoon is something we could have never imagined! Something more perfect, more beautiful, than our minds could have ever conceived.
But unlike caterpillars, we humans can’t form our own cocoons. We’re not that smart or that committed. But others can help us with them. And when we are shown grace from others…over and over and over…it forms layers of grace. And when we are wrapped tightly and snugly and securely in the grace that’s been shown to us by those around us who love us unconditionally (partnered with the ultimate grace that Christ gives us), we are finally free to make those changes that will help us to emerge as a beautiful new creation…the changed-life that God wants for us and gives to us.
So, what’s my point? Well, when I saw this young family member, who I love so much still, I showed him grace. I hugged him tightly. I kissed his cheek. I told him I loved him. And he hugged me tightly back. There was no fake-ness or pretending. It was genuine love and genuine grace.
Do I agree with or approve of the mistakes and bad decisions he made? Of course not. Do I realize that I’ve made mistakes and “there but for the grace of God go I”? Absolutely!!! I am in no place to judge. But I know grace covers a multitude of sins…and allows me to heal and to change…and to do all I can to make decisions that get me on a path toward wholeness…and back in right-standing with God and with those I love.
I know there are people in your very own family…in your life…that you find it very hard to show grace to. But maybe if you went ahead and showed that grace, over and over, and others showed them grace as well, and they took on the grace of Jesus…eventually there will be enough layers that they will be able to transform…change…become the beautiful, brand-new person that God wants them to be.
Never, ever, ever hesitate to show grace. Layer it on! Then layer it on again! It could be the very thing that helps them to finally let go…and fly!