Recently I returned from Girly Weekend. This is a few days each year that my sister and her friends have included me in a getaway, so far to Florida. Each time I’ve grown closer to the four other travelers besides my sister, as we learn to accommodate our individualities.
At the airport waiting for our return flight, while I was off with Wendy getting a cup of coffee, the other ladies decided to take up the airline’s offer for a free bag check of my suitcase (like they did theirs) at the gate to allow for more overhead space. Unfortunately, I had bought several fragile gifts so I had anticipated keeping my bag with me and had not properly packed the items for baggage claim manhandling. Despite my shock and dismay upon learning this, I get some points for not getting angry since at that point it was too late to get the bag back (I checked). But in my heart I was upset thinking about all the purchases that probably would not make it home in one piece. In fact, HaShem is good and somehow all the gifts arrived home in tact.
So this morning as I’m upstairs snuggling with little Sofia (our four month old puppy) who had just fallen asleep, allowing me a quiet time to write another Shabbat encouragement (not this one, of course), Sid came upstairs with a load of laundry to fold. So sweet of him, but a definite trigger of play time rather than sleep time for Sofia, and I’m not just going to watch him fold without helping. Although feeling a bit peeved, I didn’t say anything since his heart was in the right place. Although I was grateful for his kind deed, I was fighting feelings of frustration for his unknowingly disturbing my carved out time with Hashem.
As we’re sorting the laundry, I noticed the new shirt I bought in Florida was literally hanging in shreds! The purchase had been a splurge – I had bought one for Sid and one for me – pricey since they are made of a technical fabric that is a sun block and dries quickly, great for kayaking and beach walking. Somehow when I put the clothes in the dryer I must have caught the shirt in the dryer door. As ridiculous as it sounds given the extent of the damage, I got needle and thread and began to sew the 12 plus inch main tear, along with the parts in shreds.
With each stitch, I heard what HaShem wanted me to learn. . .
Would I have had such grace with my co-travelers if the breakable gifts had indeed arrived broken? Weren’t they just trying to do a good thing by checking my bag through, trying to ease my load, literally? Yes, it was good I held my tongue, but my heart had a ways to go, and that’s the level of walking in the way of Yeshua, becoming more like Him, that our Abba is molding us to become.
By the shirt tearing by my own hand accidentally, and the sense of acceptance of the circumstance that I felt, the “oh well, these things happen”, I was shown the difference between acting with grace and feeling grace. I had no one to blame but myself so felt no recrimination. When my friends checked my bag without asking, instead of feeling it as an act of love it felt like an overstep of boundary, their making a decision about my things which should not have been made since they didn’t have all of the information. What I was being shown today was the why – they cared about me – rather than the how – not well thought through. So too, as Sid disrupted my plans when doing something so sweet and wonderful, keeping the laundry going, I was being shown how to live with grace toward others, to go with the flow, to be able to receive His love from another, to feel another’s intent, to set aside our plan, our expectations, our wants, at least for now. For when we do, we become able to feel His love through the actions of others when motivated by love, even when the fruit of good intentions go awry.
The jagged seam on luckily the back of my new shirt will remain a reminder to me of our imperfections, how scarred we are, and yet, that our Abba has our backs, literally and no matter how much we mess up. Actually I’m a pretty bad seamstress so He must have had a hand in the sewing project since the shirt turned out pretty amazing given the damage. I’ll take that as a God wink for hearing Him.
The message I was about to write will be for another day, when in His plan is the right time. For today, we are reminded of the many opportunities to look beyond another’s actions and instead to focus on his or her heart, to not only act graciously but to work on our hearts to feel that acceptance deep down. I can only imagine the countless times our Abba must have to extend such grace to us. Thank you, Abba, for your grace. And thank you for Yeshua who makes it even remotely possible for us to receive it.