“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.”
–Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor
Accepting grace is hard. I love American literature, and when I came across that quote by O’Connor, it really stuck. A lot of people I know have really struggled with the idea of thinking of God as a loving father, and I’ve always had difficulty grasping why, but I think I’m starting to understand.
In a world that is filled with so much hate, condemnation, and persecution, our minds have trouble grasping the idea of “free” grace. We’re used to the idea of “grace”, but with strings attached. Sometimes grace just seems to translate into “I’ll forgive you, but I won’t let you forget it”. The thing about God is that He shows us grace because He loves us, not because he has some selfish motivation for forgiving us. Because God loves us, He wants us to be better. He meets us where we are, no matter what, but He doesn’t want to leave us there. It’s like He sees us standing in the middle of a road with cars coming at us, and He says, “Come on, let’s get out of the way to where it’s safe.”
That’s where a lot of us start having trouble. Change hurts. Learning hurts. I remember when I learned to ride a bike without training wheels. Things were going (mostly) well. My dad decided that we should ride our bikes to the Baskin Robbins near my house, so we did. We got our cones and ate, and we rode back. Everything was great. It was a fun trip. Until I went down a hill too fast, went through a thorny bush, hit a pear tree, and fell off my bike. Ouch! I also ripped my favorite pair of pants at the knee, so I took scissors to them, and was the only kid I knew who wore pink corduroy shorts at my co-op. Boy, those things were ugly. Learning how to ride a bike was a painful experience in more than one way. The thing is, though, I learned. Despite some rough patches, I loved riding my bike, and I used to wake up every morning to go riding up and down my street for hours.
Sometimes things are like that with God. It’s not that He doesn’t love us. He just sees the big picture. Just like my father saw past the time I rode full-force into our mini-van and the time I toppled over before I even left the driveway to a time when I would fully be able to ride my bike and would enjoy it, God sees past the pain and the hurt. He wrote this book. He already knows the ending. Our experiences mold us and teach us, and even though lessons can be hard, God is a loving father who wants us to ride some bikes. Grace is tough sometimes, but accepting grace and the change that comes with it is SO worth it.