Grace that smacks you upside the head

Excellent post today on “grace” from Rachel Held Evans at  Rachel’s basic point is that we are good at defending “grace” as a doctrine, but we’re not always so good at living out grace in how we act.  I initially commented on her post, then realized that my long-winded response would work as a post on my own blog.  So, what follows is my updated comment on grace and how easy (or not) it is to live out….    


For me, the area where I’ve had the most frequent opportunities to show grace – followed closely by my biggest failures to do so – has been as a parent.  It’s very easy to show “grace” to someone when you have the freedom to turn around and walk away when you get to the “I’ve had enough of this” threshold.  But, when it’s your own kids you’re dealing with, you don’t always have the option to just walk away. 

Personality wise, we were in trouble from day one as parents: my wife and I were both the “good kids” – compliant kids that did what they were supposed to because, well, we were supposed to! And because of that, we came into parenthood expecting our kids to be compliant and do what we ask… just because that’s how kids are supposed to act, right?  Right? Anyone? (Ok, am I really the only parent that thought kids might actually obey their mom & dad?)  

Our oldest son, in particular, has the type of personality where he will only do what he was asked if he buys into the reason for having to do it. From the age of two on, we’ve had battles that have ranged from having to put him in a headlock and leg vise to get the medicine down his throat to…..  Well, I think you get the idea. Let’s just say we occasionally lock horns, and leave it at that!

Needless to say, I’ve had lots of opportunities to show grace over the years. I wish I could say I was successful more often than not, but I’m not sure if that’s the case. 

There was one time when the kiddo was two and he was getting pretty good at hitting soft pitches with his little plastic/foam bat.  I was kneeling in his room putting something away, when he got a big grin on his face while holding that bat.  I said “don’t you dare” and turned away (which was a mistake) and sure enough “WHAM!!!” – full swing to the back of the head!  (Thankfully, we started him with plastic/foam bats, or I might not be here writing this today.)  

I did exhibit a little grace:  I refrained from hitting him back! I snagged the bat, briefly contemplated breaking it in two, then stormed through the house while ranting and raving, walked out the back door and chucked the bat towards our patio, aiming low so it wouldn’t fly into the neighbor’s yard. Of course, the rubber/foam hit the cement and “boing!” – over the wall it went.  {Anger: 1.  Dad: 0.}

Do I wish I had handled myself better? Yep.  (I also learned not to turn my back on a smiling kid with a bat!)  Was my son scarred by the experience? Maybe a little – talking to him years later, he remembered that as the first time that I lost my temper with him and it scared him. Are we ok now?  Yes, we are… even with the (ahem) “occasional” locking of horns since then. 

Thankfully, my son and I do have a good relationship (he just graduated high school, turns 18 next week) and a mutual understanding that love and forgiveness are necessary because none of us are perfect.  What was that word again?  That’s right – Grace!  That’s what we’re talking about…..

It’s a broad generalization, but I think that if the church has a weakness regarding grace, it’s that we’re good at it when its easy, and not so good at it when it’s hard.  For example, we’re good at getting food to friends and family when they are sick or just had a baby, but we’re not so good at getting food to the homeless and hurting.  We’re patient with our kids (or try to be) when we know they’re cranky because they’re sick, but we’re not so patient with the mom that has 3 screaming kids in the checkout line… or worse, on the airplane. 

What I’m trying to say is that just being good at “convenient” grace (being nice when it’s easy, walking away when it’s not) isn’t really modeling Jesus as much as we ought to.  When my son smacked me with a bat, I couldn’t just pack up and leave and say “good luck finding a new dad” (nor did I want to.)  But when I’m faced with a situation where I could show grace to someone who’s being obstinate or obnoxious, do I smile and turn away, or do I say “Lord, help me through this” and stick to it? 

I’m so glad that Jesus said “Father, forgive them” and stuck it out for our sake, even when he was being smacked around by much worse than foam baseball bats.  He is the ultimate illustration of grace extended.

I hope I can extend the type of grace towards others that Jesus showed us. It’s not always easy, but it is worth it.

Has God ever smacked you upside the head with His grace? Or smacked you upside the head and given you the opportunity to show grace?

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6 Responses to Grace that smacks you upside the head

  1. Great post!

    I feel your pain, brutha! You KNOW I do, lol. I’ve had a number of moments where I’ve struggled to have “grace for Grace” myself. Love ’em, forgive ’em, but never take your eyes off of ’em!


  2. Edie Haynes says:

    This year has taught me alot about Grace but I still have a long way to go:)

  3. By the way, the picture here was taken on my son’s 2nd birthday, when he was given the batting tee shown here. Not his best swing, but check out the hands — he’s holding the bat correctly without me showing him how to do it – EVER! The kid learned to hold the bat and his open batting stance watching baseball movies like “Angels in the Outfield” and “Rookie of the Year” before he turned two.

    Less than a month after this pic, he was knocking line drives around the yard at a BBQ party and had people asking “how old is he?”. Another month after that, “WHAM!!!”, direct hit to the back of the head…..

  4. Tamara says:

    Love this. Such a great lesson and so many moments where I laughed out loud. Thanks for pointing it out to us at Joy’s blog.

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