God has given me a gift – actually, more than a gift - a priceless treasure. And I’m scratching my head to figure out how to describe it. The best I can come up with is that through Charmon, He is giving me a front-row seat to His grace. It’s like working as a server at God’s all-you-can-eat heavenly smorgasbord of rich and yummy GRACE! The too-good-to-be-true kind of sweets where everything is gluten-fat-dairy-carb and calorie-free, (anything else? Oh yes! Sugar-free!! How could I forget SUGAR??)
I get no credit for the fare. I just get to dish it out. And in dishing it out to Charmon, I realize that not only does God intend for her to binge to her heart’s content, but it’s for me too…
The point is, people, this is no-guilt, shame-free “food!” It’s even nutritious! It’s the pure goodness of God’s undeserved love dished up, ready for the taking.
I thought I had this love kinda-sorta figured out: much deeper than feelings, it is active, initiating, in-spite-of-not-because-of, intentional, an act of the will.
Sometimes things in the head need some help getting to the heart. So God gives us people to help move theory into reality.
Meet Charmon, a woman from an extremely broken and painful childhood, a childhood which left so many scars that her adult years are marred from the consequences of defective choices that leave her often hating her life, feeling like a loser and resigned to never being able to “live a normal life.” The thing is…even though my scars and defective choices have not been as damaging as Charmon’s, I, too, often merely “lick the spoon” of grace and never really indulge in the fullness of those riches.
You see, I don’t deserve this “no-consequence” brand of goodies. I ought to pay for them, don’t you think? Or at least eat them in moderation, carefully counting out the fat grams, carbs or calories, whichever I need to atone for at the moment! When I fall short of my own standards, let alone missing the mark of God’s standards, I am ashamed. I know I can do better. I will do better. Next time I will be perfect. I will use my time better. I will say the right thing. I will make a better choice. Then I will approve of me and therefore so will God. That’s how it works, right???
So Charmon…why am I so dazzled by the gift of this relationship with Charmon?
Because I met her through the 33rd St jail?
Because she has a story of brokenness beyond most that I have heard?
Because she has a fun personality? She does…but she can also be pretty crabby too! But I even love her crabbiness! What is up with that??
Maybe because we just had an instant friendship?
No… because through loving Charmon I “get” God’s grace and love for me. Here's how it goes: I mess up and the voice of Self starts badgering me, berating me, discouraging me.
But God whispers Charmon’s name in my ear…that’s all He needs to say. I know what He means.
This is what he means…
She tells me, “I give up. I messed up. I don’t even want to tell you what is going on. You wouldn’t understand.”
And I just want her to know I love her. I really just want to give her a big hug and say, “What are you talking about? I think you’re wonderful!!!” Yes, I know the messes and the bad stuff are real. But here’s the amazingness of Charmon to me: in spite of the train wreck of sin surrounding her, God just wants to wrap his arms around her and tell her he thinks she is wonderful. He is mesmerized – not by her sin – but by his creation, his beautiful creation named Charmon.
And then the light goes on in my soul…”Karen, do you not get it? I think YOU are this wonderful too. Yes, your mess-ups are real, but when I look at you, I see a beautiful creation - not your messes.
The mess? We can clean that up. If you’ll trust me, we’ll work that out. But first let me hug you and tell you that you’re wonderful.”