Saturday, October 16, 2021

Grace Filed

My handiwork with a
commercial lawnmower
A few weeks ago I completed mowing a section of the North Country Trail in the Sheyenne National Grasslands. As the picture illustrates I found a way to dig into a sand pit immobilizing the mower. After numerous creative attempts to remedy the situation (actually I made it worse), I sheepishly called one of the Forest Service workers. He was willing to quickly complete his duties and come to my location. With the help of shovels, layers of branches for traction, my pushing, and his driving the mower was freed from its sandy quagmire. This was the second time this season in which the mower and I had issues. The initial problem was caused by the shredding of the main drive belt. This completely disabled the mower (other than the engine starting) in a remote location. Incidents like these, along with other events have caused me to question my abilities and my usefulness in this volunteer position.

Recently I received feedback from a long time friend regarding my blog entries, as well as my You Tube videos. He wrote, "Your blog in particular feels defensive to me at times. I feel like you're explaining why you went one way rather than another..I wonder if we could write about out lives from a point of view that everything is and was ordained by God. God allowed things to happen. The objective becomes seeing our lives as grace filled...When I look back over my life, I think I see one continuous debris field. I wish I could see areas without debris. What if I could make sense of it from God's point of view? There would be moments where God's grace and my faith carried me through and/or over an issue."

What captured my attention and my reflection was his phrase, "seeing our lives as grace filled." I have used the mantra "embrace what is" for the past decade. This may well be my way of recognizing and accepting the debris field in which I live. Yet it is difficult to look back and not find fault or need for explanation of my actions. However, this does not change my decisions or actions. So, what is my need to justify? Or as my friend noticed, to be defensive about those decisions and actions?  I am not a follower of the idea that everything was ordained by God, if that means pre-planned. My decisions and actions simply "were" and in the present setting "are."  Grace, forgiveness, and acceptance are characteristics of God. Thus my life has been and continues to be filled with grace. No excuses or explanations needed to defend myself. 

Beauty in any season.
As I ponder this further, I see freedom in this outlook. Freedom from the defeating self-talk with which I can fill my mind. All of the "should haves" and "I know better" that have create defensiveness. The sense that I need to project an image which is acceptable because I believe I am not acceptable as I am. My life is grace filled. I have not earned it by proper decisions, behaviors, or actions. It is present as a gift whether I want to recognize it not. My actions do not influence or diminish what God chooses to provide. 

To the aforementioned incidents with my volunteerism: I will continue to provide my services. I enjoy giving back. Stuff happens to machinery. Learning occurs from life situations. It is great to be alive and enjoy beauty and grace in any season! To my friend, thank you for the willingness to share your insights! Your words and images are also "grace filled!"

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