The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ,
the extravagant love of God,
the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit,
be with all of you.
—2 Corinthians 13:14 MSG
This morning my daughter thought that I had the air conditioning on in the car (when it was freezing outside), and asked if I was having one of my hot flashes. I told her no, but I had had a few earlier in the morning.
Though I had never planned to discuss something so personal with my children, surprisingly, they were made aware of my latest “condition” from an old television sitcom that they were watching during lunch one afternoon. Point blank one of my older sons turned to me (the one who has no filters) asking me, since I was “about that age; wasn’t I?” was I “going through the change of life?” I had to confess that, yes, I was, though as I said, I had never planned to say anything to anyone.
Very personal topics are not only openly discussed on television, but also in public and all throughout the workplace. Women are speaking indiscriminately, even reacting to hot flashes indiscreetly, and discussing every other thing that plagues a woman’s life, very openly. Apart from wanting to simply remain quiet about what I’m going through, discussing it only with my Husband, my question is “Where is the grace?” grace to cover us and provide concealment for things that should be allowed to remain private. Whether I am going through loss in my life, a horrendous crisis, a hot flash or night sweats, or feeling as if I am on an emotional rollercoaster, I want desperately to do it gracefully and accept it graciously from the Lord without drawing attention to myself. It’s not because I’m shy, it’s because I want my life to have the title of Him, not me, as a witness. “Ye are our epistles written in our hearts, known and read of all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2 KJV) “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men.”
Years ago, I am sure because of my immaturity before beginning my restoration journey, I didn’t at all handle difficult situations well. I stupidly believed I had to react; and have since learned, such is not the case. Even though I may never have been as “bad” as I often witness in other women, nevertheless, each time I did give into my feelings, I was left feeling even worse for having reacted. Most of us have heard from psychologists (who know nothing, since they usually tell us the opposite of what God says in the Bible) that we have to let it out like a tea kettle. Did you know that this theory was proven wrong years ago, but it is still widely accepted as truth?
The truth is that when we do let things out, we usually feel worse and are also left with other people’s reactions and responses to deal with on top of our own. True, we may feel good initially, but these good feelings don’t last, not to mention the domino effect that has been set in motion; the consequences of having to deal with the feelings of the other person(s) we told. Whether the others react in anger or are hurt or confused, now they are added to the mix. In my own life, when I “let it out” and reacted, I realized I was always left feeling worse about my situation, but even more tragic, I also was left with shame, embarrassment, and regrets for having given into my feelings. Interestingly, too, is that each time there was an eyewitness or someone who heard what I said, no matter how many times they told me (sincerely) that it was “okay” or that they “understood,” it did not lessen my regrets for having responded stupidly and how so often the good opinion others once had for me, changed forever. And most who said they understood, really didn’t or couldn’t.
Yet, if we don’t “let it out” or “let off steam,” won’t we soon explode? Actually, no. Not if we keep it to ourselves the way it was intended. Years ago, the Lord showed me that He keeps us in these “pressure situations” to tenderize our hearts just like a pressure cooker does! However, in the midst of each pressure, you will not be able to leave the lid on (so to speak) unless you take whatever it is to the Lord and leave the situation with Him. The greatest part of speaking to Him about it is that not only do we get to walk away feeling better, freer, and lighter (as many describe it), but we also walk away with that amazing grace. It was just this morning that I realized that both the words “graciously” and “gracefully” have the root word of that amazing grace! Wow, I like that. Bear with me as we discuss more about how a pressure cooker works, so we are able to compare it to what God wants us to do with the pressures in our lives.
A pressure cooker is (our trials are) a sealed pot with a valve that controls the steam pressure inside (a situation where GOD controls how much He will allow). As the pot/trial heats up, the liquid/His love inside privately forms steam/tears, which raises the pressure in the pot/our lives. This high pressure steam has two major benefits: It raises the boiling point to allow the higher heat to help the food/heart to cook/change faster, and as the pressure raises, its forcing liquid/love into the food/heart (in other words, high pressured trials are forcing His love into your heart). The high continuous pressure (of the trial) also helps force liquid/love and moisture/His peace into the food/heart quickly, which helps it cook/be completed faster and also helps certain foods/hearts, like tough meat/harden hearts, get very tender very quickly. Also, the flavors/testimonies created in a pressure cooker can be really deep and complex — unlike any other cooking/trial method.
Thanking the Lord just didn’t seem like enough when I thought about His amazing grace of understanding what a benefit feeling like a pressure cooker was! The heat or steam I felt I wanted to endure, because like all trials, which are uncomfortable, I know they are doing wonders for my inner being.
What I did to help me not just endure the steam (hot flashes or night sweats) is when I took this to the Lord asking my Husband how to get through these gracefully. What He told me was to embrace them, reminding me of how much I loved being in a hot bath, or Jacuzzi tub or years ago when I went to a gym to sit in a steam room. I had to laugh, of course, why make a scene when I can simply close my eyes and imagine it’s really my heavenly Love who’s treating me to something special because He loves me?! So the moment I did that, I no longer would dread or worry about when my change of life symptoms would “hit,” instead it became a welcomed reminder of His love for me.
By being transparent, discussing something I’d rather not discuss or reveal to anyone, as a friend I hoped that sharing my gratefulness for His amazing grace in just one of my newer trials, it might help you to go to the Lord, asking Him to view your current condition. Whether your condition is physical or situational. And while I’ve been discussing the hidden truth about how we can begin living our lives gracefully, a comparison popped into mind that I thought might help you. Since remembering the comparison (like God does in His Proverbs, showing one extreme versus the other), it has helped me overcome my tendency to still want to “let it out” or let things be known that should be kept discreetly between “me and my Husband” (I know that is grammatically incorrect, “me” should come after putting the other person first).
About 13 years ago, something happened where I lived that became world news. The most amazing thing about this, was that the persons involved were our close friends, members of our church. And the wife was a woman who was in my Wise Woman class; one who had proven to be outspoken.
That day, just like many of you, I watched my television in disbelief, not just about the events that were unfolding, but I became more intrigued by the reaction of the couple as individuals. The husband had learned to be very quiet due to his wife’s overreaction to everything. There, on television, I watched as she, once again, made a scene as she had trained herself to do in her life (especially in her marriage). So when the television cameras were live, streaming around the world, the cameras did little to quiet her angry screaming. If anything, seeing she had an audience looked like she began to increase her bad behavior.
Fast forward now about sixteen months later when once again, the news bulletin interrupted television programming, cameras again rolling in our small, once, insignificant small town. This time, I watched my television with even greater disbelief as I saw one of our closest friends, handcuffed while being dragged into police headquarters. Much later, during the trial, I witnessed first-hand this man’s wife and couldn’t help but draw a comparison between the two wives, the two women I knew personally.
The latter wife, once a pastor’s wife, I’d compare to a woman like Jackie Kennedy when her husband, President Kennedy was assassinated. It was due to her very composed demeanor when hundreds of cameras were in her face, along with the screaming reporters, which everyone was a witness to. It showed the world her immeasurable grace—beyond what any of us could ever imagine exhibiting if this had happened to us. This woman and her husband had been a close friend, to both my husband (now ex) and I, which is why we remained behind her, supporting her. Not just supporting her emotionally, we also helped them by caring for their children and home (like my boys mowing their lawn), and also choosing to sit behind her at the trial that was televised worldwide. Sadly, we were her only support— all, every single one of her other friends, everyone, abandoned her. Why do Christians seem to forget that “a friend loveth at all times” and we are needed the most during the worst of times?
No matter how much I may have helped my friend and her family during this tragic time in her life, which lasted for decades (do any of us want to complain about our situation right now?), she helped me witness true royalty first-hand. Yes, royalty. This refined lady exhibited what it means to be a child of the King, whose name is Jesus, and she wore her crown of grace like a princess. I saw her at her best and worse, and whether she was in front of the cameras or if she was behind closed doors with her family, she appeared just the same. In perfect peace.
No one knows if my friend broke down in her prayer closet, only her Lover knows, but what I witnessed forever changed my life. Her example made me want to be like her and all those who’ve worn their royalty like a crown when facing the worst of times in their lives. I want to be like my friend whom I witnessed up close and behind the scenes, who faced incredible horrific attacks that would grip anyone alive, yet she walked through it fearlessly (or so it appeared) with a gentle and quiet spirit. Truly a princess since I know her true Husband, the Prince of Peace, was always with her, by her side and it showed.
How we react may not change the course of the events we face, but it will diminish the after effects of guilt and shame or ramifications of something that was said, that is added to our already difficult situation—when we give way to our feelings openly. Therefore, the truth is, it won’t help us to feel better once we “let it all out,” but instead, it will once again be a time when we missed appropriating and tapping into that amazing grace that flourishes: the darker the day, the steeper the climb, the harder the fall.
For me, I want to show the world (which starts with my family who are closest to me) that our Husband is real and His grace transcends all difficulties of this life. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 KJV). His grace, found in His love, is what helps women “smile at the future” when the future looks like a deep dark hole. It is not that we are brave, not really, but that we know Who holds the future, and we know how His story ends. Let us never forget, too, that it is often the “little foxes that spoil the vine.” In other words, it is always the small things that we have to tackle and overcome: things like menopause, marital abandonment, rejection from family, or financial ruin. Only when we conquer our “selves” in the midst of these, can we conquer the big ones that may be up ahead for some of us.
Oh, that amazing grace.