We often think of God's grace as being some big display of mercy. Something obvious and undeniably "of God". But lately I've been looking back on my life and realizing just how many situations could have (and by all accounts should have) played out very differently. Times when I should have made the wrong decision, I should have followed the wrong crowd, I should have gone with my gut, but I didn't. (Certainly there were plenty of times when I did listen to the devil rather than the angel on my shoulder, but that's another post for another day.) In these particular instances, there was no miraculous writing on the wall, and no rainbow in the dry sky, but I know it was all God's grace. So, here are 10 (easily overlooked) ways God shed his grace on me.
1. I'm not a princess.
I didn't grow up in a castle. My parents didn't wear crowns. And although my big sister fancied herself a queen, there was really nothing royal about us. Just ordinary folks, trying to make life work. Of course for a kid this is anything but a blessing. For my eight year old self wealth was measured not by dollars, but by soda. I can remember going to friends' houses and they always had canned soda in their fridge, or in that special fridge in the garage. We didn't have a garage. I always said that when I had kids we would keep canned soda in our fridge, and we would have a garage. That meant you were wealthy, and I was going to be wealthy. Today I see the grace in this. My personality leads me to extremes, so I had a lot of Veruca Salt potential. Given the opportunity I feel like my parents probably would have spoiled us, and my sister and I both (her especially) would have been very rotten rich kids. So I'm thankful for humble beginnings, and even more so I think I'm thankful that my kids aren't much higher on the class ladder than I was.
PS I now have kids, but no garage, and no soda.
2. Mark Zuckerberg is my age.
I was in college at the same time that he was, so the first time I heard anything about "The Facebook" was my junior year. It is truly God's grace that held it back that long. Listen Parents, if Facebook had been around when I was in High School, I would have made my life a living Hell. Notice I said "I would have", because I would have been glued to that thing. I would have been obsessed with who was doing what (or who), who was saying what, who was celebrating what, in what way, with who, and was I invited? I can think of specific instances when I had a one time encounter with someone and never saw them again, that's now an impossibility, yet I'm so grateful I didn't have an outlet to pursue those encounters into relationships. Some things are meant to be left alone. So I was lucky, and so were you, but your kids? Not so much. Parents, delete it. Like, yesterday, delete your kids' social media accounts!
3. Someone forgot to pass me the skinny gene. And knee caps.
Everyone probably had the one teacher in High School that they'll never forget, and for me that was Mr. Davis. I actually had him for both Sophomore and Junior year History, so I spent a lot of time in this man's class. And I'm sorry to say that I don't remember a single historical fact that he taught me. It's funny, we spend so much time in Sunday School classes trying to teach kids facts. Memorize scripture and learn bible stories, that's our goal, when in the end that stuff really doesn't matter. Just like it doesn't matter that I can't remember any specifics that I learned in Mr. Davis's class. I actually went on to major in History in college, but don't ask me who fought in what battle, when and where, and who won. I have no idea. That's not the point. The point is that, just like Wendy, this teacher was a light in my life during a very dark time. I made no effort to disguise the fact that I was not a believer, and I thought Christians were ignorant fools. Yet everyday Mr. Davis found some way to share his faith with me. Again, reference points. Years later I would think back to our conversations and remember what he had said, but most importantly, how he had said it. Always with grace. Never with a pointed finger, or a list of do's and don'ts. He spoke love, and grace, and hope.
Mr. Davis is no longer a high school history teacher, which is all the more reason why I see this as grace. He is now the director of Kaleo Missions, which is an awesome organization that is doing great things across the country. Go check it out and get involved. Seriously, go now.
6. He just wasn't that into me.
This really applies to a couple of different situations, so I'll try to speak generally. When dealing with our love lives we silly humans always feel like we know better than God. I did. And there was a time when I was on my face in prayer for something to work out, because it just seemed to fit so well. But it didn't work out. When my husband and I started dating I knew he was the one, no doubt (in my mind, he was skeptical, I think my beauty and charm overwhelmed him a little, ha!). But it wasn't until I found the actual "one", that I realized how gracious God had been to protect me from the "ones" I so wanted to be the "one".
7. The worst hang over ever, at the worst time possible.
I know you're learning all sorts of stuff about me, and I may regret that soon, but for now here's one last tidbit. As a freshman in college I was an alcoholic in the making. I loved the feeling of drunkenness. The loss of inhibition. The feeling of invincibility. But not so much the point when everything you've just downed decides to be upped. On my nineteenth birthday I went to a little shindig with my roommates and had a few too many shots, totally disregarding the fact that my first college exam (oddly enough, a History exam) was the next morning. So, the next day as my peers poured their studied brains into the exam, I concentrated on not puking on my scantron and guessed my way through the questions. Needless to say, I failed. But that's probably not an unusual story for a college kid. What was unusual is that it was a turning point, not just in my education, but in my life. I saw very clearly the road I was heading down, and I didn't want any part of it. I didn't want to waste the opportunity I had to get an education. I didn't want to waste my life.
It was at this point that God began to draw me to Himself. He began to pursue me. Everywhere I turned I was faced with godly people who, for no good reason, wanted to be in relationship with me. From every angle I began to hear things like, "Hey Nikki, I've been praying for you." And one step at a time I started to walk towards God. I didn't know what that meant, my spiritual legs were very wobbly, so perhaps I crawled for a while. But I was in pursuit.
And I still am. By grace I was given new eyes. A new heart. And a new life.
It was all grace, Friends. All grace.
*Don't you hate it when someone says they're going to give you 10 things, but only gives you 7?*