“Grace, she takes the blame, she covers the shame, removes the stain.” ~ Bono
I think it was over a year ago now that my friend Jenn sent me a link to the song “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. She selected for me the version sung by Justin Timberlake, and having now very intentionally experienced every version that’s out there, I still think Timberlake’s is the best. For me, it hits just the right balance of desperation and faith ~ a passionate prayer that is both accusation and love song at the same time.
In her email, along with the link, Jenn included this brief note: “When I hear your story, I’m reminded of this song. I think it may express some of what you are experiencing right now.”
In classic Jenn fashion, she nailed the essence of where I was, and, cleverly, subtly, gave me permission to be there. I lived in that song for the next year (at least), and it became a place where I could find my true self and feel everything I truly felt…and, without fear of judgment or shame, really look at the circumstances and experiences that have so deeply shaped the man I have become.
To become the people that God designed us to be, we all need to find a space in ourselves ~ a way of being with ourselves ~ that’s free of self-judgment and full of courage to really look at all that we are…shadow and light, brokenness and glory, all mysteriously interwoven as in any good epic tale, and give ourselves full permission to bring it all into the Light. To be it all. To live it all. To include it all. Right here. And right now.
That’s the Amazing Grace that comes to mind when I think of the gift Christ brought by being born in the world. He helps find what has been lost or broken in every living soul, and shows us how we can be whole again. And he does it not through condemnation under the Law, but through a disarming acceptance and an unreasonable love. In other words, through Grace. And that’s the gift ~ the best gift, I think ~ that we can give one another at Christmastime.
So what if, for Christmas this year, in addition to all the presents you buy for those you love, you gave away this gift: Letting others be exactly who they are right now, with no judgment, and fully accepting everything in them that is not yet whole. And from that grace-filled space, gently blessing the beauty and glory that lives in them as masterpieces crafted by the passionate soul of God.
I’ve come to believe that unless we intentionally create these “Grace-filled spaces” in our lives and relationships, we will never really be free ourselves. Because to do this work is to do what Jesus does with every willing soul he meets…and isn’t that what being a “Christ follower” means?
How are you intentionally creating “Grace-filled spaces” in your life right now? How about in your relationships? How could you take that experience even deeper this Christmas?