“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.”
― Anne Lamott
One of my favorite hymns growing up was “Amazing Grace.” I would listen to the tune and wait for the moment, when amazing grace would teach my heart to believe…
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
I was always a sensitive kid and growing up defending myself with eight brothers and three older sisters often gave me a good reason to want to start a rebellion. Looking back, I never stopped feeling like it was my job to right the wrongs and save the world. It was exhausting! Trying to make sure I made the road perfect whether in my role as wife and mother, business woman and activist, or writer for that matter…it takes me days to work up the courage to write something. Working it over again and again in my mind before I can put words to print. And I like to write; even if just in my daily journal for my own mind to be emptied. Each time I do, it is that Grace appears.
The last few years have been really transformative for me. I had to face that my first marriage was ending despite whatever we tried. The sadness at failing both God, my family and someone who used to be my partner was tremendous, but it was multiplied each time I looked into my children’s eyes and tried to make things better despite all the statistics that said I would fail. My children are amazing. Statistics were wrong. Grace held us. Then there was the time Grace appeared to help me keep my home so that the kids didn’t have to endure losing both their security and home at the same time. Grace appeared when I first believed by a promotion that gave me exactly (almost to the penny) what I needed to sustain the mortgage even though I had no idea how it would all work out. That house was our hideout from the world–a shelter in the storm that was raging in my heart.
And then I lost my father, who always felt like the one in my family who could truly see me. I know there was love, but to truly be seen. Well, that was a gift. His absence from the world made me feel vulnerable beyond what I ever can remember. Going home the long road to Michigan the day after Christmas to say goodbye was complicated by a car that decided to act up. It was Grace that allowed me to get through the icy roads to the safety of my childhood home where I walked in line behind the legacy my father created. Grace taught my heart to believe a few days later when a new friend asked me to a celebration at New Year’s Eve. We had known of each other but never spoke until he reached out to me on that lonely Christmas night after my dad had died to say I wasn’t alone in my sadness for he had lost his dad at Easter. He knew what I was feeling on my first Christmas without Dad. Grace gave me the courage to believe in love again. And Grace was right!
Not ever having lost my fighting spirit, Grace appeared to remind me about making a more just world. I answered what I felt was the call by running for the U.S. Congress–after all there were no women from my state in Washington and I knew what that meant…we would go hungry if we left it to the boys. After a year of running, resigning from my job, selling my beloved house, and almost my desire to live, Grace once again met me with the words, “we aren’t done with you yet.” Though the last few years have been about finding a set of wings to fly because my feet were too tired to walk, Grace has brought me safe thus far.
When my campaign experience was over despite my grief and disbelief, it was looking to Grace again to inspire me. The Civil Graces Project naturally emerged from the many instances during my race when I really witnessed the human need to reconnect with one another in a world that seems to push us apart. We needed to re-member. Grace is the quiet presence of love, forgiveness, not having the answer but waiting for the truth to emerge, and having the courage to stay engaged with one another. Grace will transform our hearts, and I believe, our nation and our world, if we remain open to that presence and one another.