Linzi Anderson: Grace Notes
Updated: Aug 15
Grace is free they said.
But only if you become the person, we think you ought to be.
Only if you give creed to all of our ideas.
Only if you believe that what we say is from the very lips of God
Only if you become safe.
Only if you submit.
Only if you act like the kind of woman, we have decided you should be.
This is good news they said.
God loves you.
And you can show your love for God by playing according to the rules of our power games.
I believed them.
I did everything they asked.
And in the process, I lost myself.
I gave up who God created me to be in order that I might become who they wanted me to be.
I bought into this idea of grace.
And all I found was burden, shame and isolation.
I thought I was giving myself up for God.
As it turns out, I was giving myself up for their comfort.
And then I left.
I didn’t want to leave.
I tried not to leave.
But there was a pulling, a tugging.
A falling into place of things.
A gentle nudge of the Divine. Grace.
And it was the scariest thing I had ever done.
I sat in the departure lounge of Dublin airport.
With my one-way ticket to the bible belt of all places.
Even in that moment, I went with the hope that leaving wouldn’t change me.
That even continents apart I could still be the person they said I should be.
As it turns out.
Leaving did change me. Grace.
Leaving turned me into the one thing I said I would never become…
God calls me to give up who I think I should be in order that I might become myself.
This call is grace to us every day.
Perhaps grace is leaving what you think is home in order to come home to yourself.
Perhaps grace is the ability to listen to the divine voice within as well as the voices around you.
Grace does not call us to abandon who we are.
Grace gently calls us to lean into who we are, assuring us that God will meet us there.
It was my first month as the Director of Youth Ministries at my current church.
I was sitting at my desk watching the events of my home denomination’s general assembly unfold.
They say I don’t have a credible profession of faith.
They say the sacraments are not for me.
Or for any children I might have.
They say I am excluded from these means of grace.
My boss stuck his head around the door of my office and said, “how are you?”
I began to cry.
He sat a while with me.
And grace was there. Grace is presence, especially in moments of pain.
And as my tears were flowing, they reminded me of the waters in which I was baptized.
The one’s who baptized me have cast me out.
But God always claims me as God’s own. Grace.
Some will not welcome me to God’s table.
Yet God calls me by name and gives me everything I need. Grace.
That Sunday I sat at the back of the sanctuary.
The pastor (the same one who sat a while with me) invited us all to the Lord’s table.
And as I received the bread and the cup, I received them with all of God’s children.
Even the ones who said I am not welcome at this table.
Even the ones who refused me a seat at their table.
We receive grace together.
Even now we belong to one another. Grace.
Because grace doesn’t discriminate.
Because God’s table is bigger, and yet more intimate, than we can imagine.
Grace reconciles, even when we refuse to be reconciled.
Grace welcomes, even when doors are slammed in our faces.
Grace sits a while, even when there are a million other things to be doing.
Grace invites us to give up what we know in order to be led into a deeper knowing.
Grace invites us to be wrong and to be thankful.
Grace holds us so that we can fall apart.
Grace tells us that we belong, even when everything else tells us we don’t.
Grace is God’s YES even as the world screams NO.
Grace calls us home.
To one another.
Let grace abound.
May it be so.
Linzi Anderson comes from NI and is now Director of Youth Ministries at 1st Presbyterian Church, Franklin. Follow her at @LinziFinzi88