Presence Not Withheld

The final quarter of the year is my favorite. It starts with our anniversary in October, my birthday and Thanksgiving in November, and culminates in the wildly festive time of Christmas and New Year’s Eve with parties, music, and all the lovely twinkling lights!

Yes, AND.

Christmas can also be hard. Friends are experiencing great loss, people are nursing wounded souls, and crowds are yielding to stressful spirits.

It seems like a continual lesson I’m learning – maybe more of a practice now – of yes, AND; figuring out what it looks like to simultaneously hold both grief and joy.

We put up the tree a little later this year through no fault of anyone’s. All the words exchanged this time last year out of sight, out of mind, mostly – until I dragged the boxes out to do it all again and heard hubs coming into the room. “The tree looks awfully bare, doesn’t it?” I’d forgotten the pain when I reacted rashly, throwing away half the ornaments we’d amassed and prematurely taking down the holiday decorations well before Christmas. I laughed it all off channeling my mother’s mantra of less is best.

And then I was stopped in my tracks as I hung a small square stone tied with jute. Grace.

I purchased Honest Advent by Scott Erickson on a whim over Thanksgiving. Not my first encounter with the word, I started to notice a pattern stacking up against me. Here’s what he has to say on grace:

I don’t know what your questions are, but abstract religious talk about unconditional love can leave me a little confused about what kind of affections I can expect from an invisible deity. What I’ve come to understand is that grace is the antidote to the ailment of shame. Shame believes one lacks what it takes to be loved and must endeavor to earn that back. It’s the burden of perfection morally, spiritually, humanly, and it inevitably destroys our souls because there is no fulfillment of enough. It’s just an endless jog on the janky treadmill of striving. To see Jesus as full of grace means there wasn’t any perfection checklist that was met to deserve His presence. His arrival stands against the idea that if you do it right, you get access to His presence. His presence was freely given. He never withheld it. Grace is presence not withheld.

Scott Erickson, Honest Advent

Grace and truth is the invitation to be seen, and in that seeing to receive the gift of presence not withheld.

Scott Erickson, Honest Advent

I have been wrecked by the realization of blessings this year: protection, provisions, tiny little miracles that speak so intimately to the depths of how I was created. I am overwhelmed and undone by them all! I didn’t earn them. I certainly don’t deserve them. Yes, AND.

I tend to avoid New Year resolutions, but I do want to continue living here in this heart posture: just as I have been promised, so will I try to extend.

Speak life.
Swell hearts around you with love.
Pay grace forward.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Karen J. Wyler says:

    You are a gifted writer and you are making a difference in the lives of others by your willingness to share your writings. ❤️


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