In my heart I write. A lot. In my heart I update all our friends and family regularly and share all the wonderful things God is doing. In my heart, I inspire people and do great things and speak Thai fluently and finish the laundry and wash the dishes happily and eat kale for breakfast.
In reality, I will be honest: this life has been really hard. So many times I want to write but I cannot find the words. The everyday struggle of maintaining purpose and hope and endurance amidst conflict and culture and language and spiritual warfare and homesickness does not sound as good out loud as stories of salvation and rescue and success. The long-term realities of raising four adopted children with traumatic pasts simply do not tickle the ears like the stories of smiling hill-tribe babies and Buddhists miraculously converting to Christianity. Sometimes I wish I had more of those stories, the ones that make us all feel good and make me feel worthwhile and put-together.
But no. My stories, for the most part, are simply that we showed up. That we have not given up (yet). That we are weak, but that we are available. That this path we have chosen is really hard—and lonely. That often we do not understand what God is doing, and that we are exhausted from the struggle to help our kids heal.
Some things have been especially hard lately, and this morning I found myself caught in the tension between my feelings of abandonment and the truth of God’s steady grace. I wrote out my heart cry to God. Is this really the story You have for us? It was a prayer full of unfiltered feelings and untamed words that flowed from that secret place where I questioned His purpose and His kindness.
My little ones play outside as I continue to ask God these honest questions and express the wondering in my heavy heart. The front doors have been left wide open, and I can hear birds chirping wildly; the morning freshness whispers in on the breeze.
My littlest prince, the one with dancing blue eyes, pounces upon my quiet space with a tiny offering: the flower of the pagoda tree. He knows it is my favorite, and that it makes me smile. He knows that my Thai name comes from the name of this tree, this flower: ลีลา. (Lee-laa) = Grace. Rhythm.
I sat there, listening, looking long and close. I wondered: is there, perhaps, more to see? Is there somehow more to the story than the hard and the exhausted and the unsure and the broken? Is there somehow a Grace, a Rhythm, that I have missed, that I will keep missing unless I can look through dancing eyes and feel with childlike hands?
Maybe amidst our unpoetic stories of struggle and tiredness and just showing up, there is a thread of Grace that ties it all together. A secret Rhythm that we could all hear in our own stories if we just allow our broken hearts to listen. Maybe that thread of Grace is what will eventually mend our brokenness or weave our pieces into a masterpiece. Maybe that Rhythm is one only others can sing as they watch us move—not with perfection or performance, but with faithfulness—as we keep showing up, keep not giving up, keep choosing, even though the story is still just as hard.
I will be honest—when I look around I do not readily see Grace in all the hard stuff. It seems elusive these days, but today I choose it anyway. Today I choose to tell the story of Grace, to walk in the Rhythm of Grace, even while panting breathless on the steep path amidst the pain of perseverance.
Today I choose to believe that my stories, and yours, are stories of Grace.
Question to consider: What are some of your stories of grace?