I am Amy Parsons, Worship Coordinator here at Trietsch. Let me start by admitting that my husband is smart and knows things.
There. I said it. I expect him to be grinning around the house and quoting me that sentence for the next three weeks. Here's a little story of why I made that bold revelation.
I had decided this year, for Lent, instead of giving something up, I would give something out. I wanted to try to do a "Random Act of Kindness" each day. Now, I don't consider myself a jerk by any means, but I wanted to really push myself to see how many different kind things I could come up with for others.
I actually enjoyed trying to find new things that were different to do. I cleaned up the self-service area at the post office, let people in front of me in line, asked for a manager to compliment an employee - things like that. DISCLAIMER: This is NOT an article written to make me look good! While I can use any help I can get, please don't think this is about me. Just "plot set up" to explain the story.
So the day before Easter, I told my husband I wanted to hand out a few gift cards. Now, we're not rolling in the dough in our household, so they wouldn't be big ones, but I went to Starbucks and got a couple to hand out. My friend Kim had recommended a good place to bless people that might really need that blessing was the laundromat, so away we went.
I found a place with the oh-so-catchy name of "Wash, Dry, Clean." How the brilliant marketing team came up with THAT gem, I'll never know! When we got there, I actually started to feel nervous. I didn't know how to approach someone, what to say or how they would react, but I was determined to do this, so I sucked it up and got out of the car.
The first lady I saw was outside and I approached and offered the gift card, ready to see her huge smile and feel the warm fuzzy that you feel when you make people happy. Nope. Not only did I not get the smile, she refused the card. I tried explaining that there were no strings, no expectations, that it was just a gift. She made it clear to me that she was not interested at all.
A little uncomfortable, I went inside the laundromat now. Side note: I LOVE the way laundromats smell like Tide, Downy and warmth. I'm sure if people weren't drying clothes, it might be TOTALLY DIFFERENT smells that I wouldn't enjoy near as much, but for the time being, smelling the Downy freshness was nice and energized me to try again.
The next lady that I offered it to looked at me verrrrrry suspiciously. She had questions in her eyes as she cautiously reached out and took the card. I smiled and repeated that it was simply a gift and I wished her the best. As I walked away, I again was surprised that I didn't feel warm and fuzzy.
Upon going up to the last lady (and before the men revolt that it was an all female gift giving night, there were no men around nearby), I noticed she had a little girl playing on the floor by the washing machine. The two of them both looked tired and ready to go home. I hoped that maybe a Starbucks treat would brighten their day, but by this point, had fairly low expectations about the response I'd get.
As I walked up and held out the card, asking if I could give her this gift, she turned and smiled at me. Much to my surprise, she took it and looked very appreciative. She smiled at me again and thanked me. I wished her a Happy Easter and turned and walked away.
SO - why did I start this article singing my husband's praises for his deep thinking? - Here comes the nugget of wisdom....
I got back in the car and started to feel upset, even a little hurt. See - I had built this up in my head how it would go. I had made this more about HOW I WOULD FEEL blessing them than how they would feel being blessed. I told Dave about each person's response and he replied to me... (wisdom warning!) "Sounds like how we are with God's grace. Some people choose to accept God's grace, but are looking for the catch. They don't believe it's always there for them or feel they have to do something to get it. Others simply refuse. Whether it's a lack of faith and trust or just a lack of desire, they say "no." Then there are those who gladly accept the gift of grace each day.
I sat, stunned. Not because he said something wise - he's a pretty smart guy anyway - but because he was right and I was suddenly asking myself which one I was. Did I happily accept the gift of grace as it's offered or did I live my life attempting in some way to prove myself or to right the wrongs of my past on my own. Was my reasoning for doing this in the first place to truly bless someone else or to make myself feel good for my actions? I had made this all about me and how good it would make me feel.
Don't get me wrong. I believe that it's okay to feel good about helping others. I think any time we attempt our best work at furthering the kingdom of God, we can celebrate.
But, Dave was right.
If there is one thing the Reckless Grace worship series has shown me, it's how every single person needs God's grace. I shared in the videos during this series a bit about my experience with depression over the past 25 years. While I know enough about the actual chemical imbalance in my brain, it's how I respond to my challenge that is the key. I often feel very overwhelmed, panicked, almost like being underwater and reaching for the surface. But I have to remind myself that God's grace is there - reaching for me - A GIFT. I don't have to do this on my own. I just have to accept God's overwhelming, never ending, reckless love, not with trepidation, fear or suspicion. Not with conditions or hoops I must jump through to obtain it. Just a simple gift for me, for all of us.
Will you accept that same Reckless Grace?