Grace

Have you ever had a secret? One that you had to keep from everyone? One that was surely worse than everyone else’s secrets?

I carried the weight of a secret, and it wore me down. It kept me turning in bed when I desperately needed sleep. It masked the bright flavors of my favorite foods. It dulled the colors of my world.

My secret made me ill. My head throbbed. My bones ached. I wanted–no, I needed to tell, but I couldn’t bring myself to say it aloud. I was too afraid of what people would say. What people would think...

I couldn’t bear the judgment, so I told myself I could handle it.

I’ve already processed through it.

I’ve made it right with God.

It wasn’t completely my fault anyway.

I’ve repented. I won’t be doing anything like that again.

Over time though, the longer I kept my secret, the heavier it became to carry.

The harder I worked to hide it, the more it festered within my heart.

Eventually, one secret lead to more secrets. A little lie as a cover-up. A piece of evidence buried inside the trash can. An excuse about the circles under my eyes.

I lived with my guard up, afraid that someone would learn what I had done, and that what I had done would make me unlovable, unworthy.

I recently went away to a spiritual retreat where a bold and honest pastor spoke to me about the virtue of grace – of unmerited favor.

Unmerited, and unconditional.

He told about his daughter in her troubled teenage years, of the heartache she caused for him and his wife. She ignored her father, scoffed at him for years, yet when she finally came back to him, his arms willingly received her as his spirit soared.

I thought of my own children, the mistakes they make, the dozens of times they goof up every day. And yet, I am willing – no, I am EAGER, to give them grace. To offer another chance. To whisper, I know you’ll do better this time. I forgive you. I believe in you.

Toward the end of the retreat, participants were given the opportunity to confess wrongs to a spiritual leader. This was a new thing to me. I was raised in a Protestant church, and to be honest, I’ve often thought the sacrament of penance, or “confession,” unnecessary. What I did was between God and me. Why did I need a middle man?

Yet when the opportunity came, I was first through the door. I deeply desired to excavate the crud that had accumulated in my soul over nearly two decades.

I looked that pastor in the eyes and whispered to him both the wrong things that had happened to me and the wrong things I, myself, had done.

With tear-brimmed eyes, he whispered back to me, Stacy, I am so sorry those painful things took place, and that you have made choices you now deeply regret. But by the grace of God and the blood of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.

Forgiven. Just like that. In a moment, a decade’s accumulation of shame disappeared.

I had expected to feel worse after telling another human being what I had done. Instead, I felt as though the Secret, the Worst-of-All-Things, had lost its power and hold on me as soon as I had named it.

I walked in the door of that room crippled with sadness, pain, and regret, and came out clean on the other side.

I’ve never experienced freedom like that before.

***

Now, my husband knows my secret. My best friend knows my secret. And yes, when I told them, they were disappointed. Hurt. But more importantly, they shared in my despair. They cried with me.

They know that my mistake is not a representation of who I am.

And they never, EVER stopped loving me. If anything, they love me more now, as they better understand my heart.

This morning, as I got into my van, I noticed that it was flat-out filthy. We’ve just had a serious thaw in Michigan– almost all the snow and ice melted in a few days, leaving sand, salt, and dust all over the roads and boulevards.

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With my three sons in the back of the van, I headed for the automatic car wash.

They squealed with delight as the high-powered sprayer blasted a layer of salt and dirt from the car…

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They stared, mesmerized, at the soapy lather that bubbled down their windows…

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and watched streams of clean water rinse it all away…

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We trembled in our seats as the dryer blasted away the last drops of water from the windshield.

On the ride home, we marveled at how clean the van was, how clear our view, how “Space Shuttle Harrison” glistened as we zoomed along the highway through our small town.

Sure, we’ll get dirty again. Dust will blow and accumulate on our surfaces. We’ll get all marked up with fingerprints. But it’s nice to know the car wash is there when we need it, ready to strip away the build-up and release us, clean– fresh, out the other side.

Perhaps you have a secret too. Something from long ago, or from yesterday. Something you’re sure would make you unlovable. Unworthy.

Believe me when I say this is a lie.

Unlovable is a lie. Unworthy is a lie.

Secrets are lies that cloud your view. They bury you with dirt from the inside out.

To name a secret is to take away its power over you. To say, I did something, but I don’t want to do it anymore, takes guts, but it puts us on the path to healing and opens the possibility of true freedom.

You don’t have to tell everyone, but tell someone. The same God, the same Mentor, the same Lover or Friend to whom you’ve extended GRACE will likely be eager to return that same GRACE to you.

Secrets are lies, my friends, but grace is real. Grace is truth. And truth is the only path to freedom.

37 thoughts on “Grace

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for letting me know! I’m also glad you commented so I could find your blog. I am a certified English teacher, and your stuff is great! Cheers, Stacy

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  1. Oh Stacy, I wish I would have read this before MOPS today. Such a beautiful picture of confession and forgiveness! Thanks for sharing your gift of writing with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Stacy! 🙂 Wow! I can relate so well to your experience with confession, it was very close to mine, but your words are so eloquent and poignant! You have a beautiful way of writing, of opening up and sharing the deepest thoughts of your soul. I’m in awe of that. You are blessed. And such a blessing to others! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your life. I’ve been trying to catch up on your older blog posts, they are all amazing! I am so happy for you that you got to experience God’s “car wash of Grace” last weekend! 🙂

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    1. Car wash of grace, indeed! Thanks so much for taking the time to read the words of my heart. I feel truly blessed to have crossed paths with you, and am looking forward to continued friendship! Much love, Stacy

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  3. Another fantastic job Stacey. This one hits everyone’s heart. And you are so right when you talk about the release that comes with sharing that with a loving person….when who does not judge or condemn. And of course the greatest healing that comes from the forgiveness our Lord gives us. You are so talented Stacey, your sharing is a great blessing to me.

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    1. Thank you, Carol. You are right — the person has to be open, and not judging or condemning. That doesn’t mean they can’t tell you that you were WRONG – – it just means that they speak that truth to you with kindness and in the interest of healing and forward progress! Thank you for reading my posts and for being such an encourager to me. Love, Stacy

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  4. Thank you Stacy…it seems that many of us had so many burdens deep inside out hearts and God called us to be free of them!! I had held inside of me 30 years of secrets…secrets that I kept in order to protect others. There was a horrible tragedy and all of those memories came flooding back to me. I literally felt like I was dying inside. I was having 24 hour panic attacks and was literally falling apart. I too talked with a Pastor and told him what was going on and he helped me to release those demons and I let it go. Being home now for 2 days and I have not had a single panic attack. I was saved by GRACE!!! I know that I have to learn to live with these things and I know now that God has given me a new strength … I am a work in progress!!!
    Blessings to you my friend.

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    1. Toni, I am so sorry you dealt with decades of struggles, but it is a beautiful miracle that you are experiencing the true freedom that comes with truth and GRACE! I hope you will share your story of healing with others when it calls to be told. Love and blessings to you! Stacy

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  5. I have found this post so moving I am in tears. You are absolutely right and are spreading a great message. I am so happy you have been able to grow from your experience and make peace within yourself. The car wash is a great analogy that i could relate to, there is always a way to cleanse ourselves, grow and move forward. Great message. 🙂

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  6. Isn’t confession a great thing? I really appreciate that aspect of Catholic and Orthodox denominations, of saying out-loud the sins we’ve committed and hearing the words (spoken by a priest on behalf of God) “I forgive you, go in peace.”

    It gives closure, and yes, grace, to situations that otherwise could fester for all eternity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is truly beautiful. Yes, it does give CLOSURE! “I did that, but I’m not going to do it anymore!” I have a true and deep appreciation for the sacrament of confession after experiencing its healing power. Thank you for reading, relating, and sharing your thoughts. Best, Stacy

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  7. This is a truth the world, the church, desperately needs to hear. Thank you for being real, for being brave. It will cause others to follow because courage is contagious; most are just waiting for someone to take the first step.

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    1. Oh, you are so right! It takes US acknowledging that we are all human and all broken — that we all seek to be renewed and restored. Thank you for reading and for the kind encouragement. I hope we can connect again. Warm regards, Stacy

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  8. Thank you for sharing Stacy. I too had a secret . A lie . It ate me up inside as well . That’s what I meant by ” My little corner of the world crumbling ” in my testimony. That among other things. I revealed my secret as well to my husband and friend. And ” the truth does set you free “. It is so comforting to know that God graces us with a new beginning ALWAYS. And that is the Love of God . Beautiful and pure.

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    1. Laurie, we never would have known that about each other, would we? What a reminder to you and me that MANY people we encounter are dealing with internal struggles. I hope our lives can be an encouragement to others now that we have experienced and fully understand the beauty and freedom of forgiveness and walking in truth. Thank you for your openness and lovely heart! Blessings, my friend! Stacy

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  9. I really loved reading your story. Thank you for being so honest and informative. I was able to relate to show much. I found it even more enjoyable that me and my little one had a blast at the carwash today as well. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank YOU! I am honored that you both enjoyed the post and related to the beauty of grace! And as for the car wash — it’s pretty fun for grown-ups too, isn’t it? 😉 Blessings, Stacy

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    1. What a difficult time for you, my friend. I hope you are able to keep your eyes on the truth, and know that nothing is too big, too scary, or too surprising for God. Sending strength and prayers, Stacy

      Liked by 1 person

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