So Judge Me #7: I Am So Tired… Of Grace

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When your marriage ends some people in your life will take sides. Judgement will happen. And, at a time when you are already in extreme crisis, some of the people you thought would be most constant and true for you, sometimes without even waiting to sit with you and hear your pain, will turn their backs on you. When my marriage ended I experienced this from an older Christian person I once had tremendous respect for and who I saw socially over many years. I attended a small gathering in an intimate venue and this person would NOT acknowledge my presence, that whole day, with a smile or a nod or even a glance. Wow!

Before I go any further I also have to share that there were and are many people in my life who did not judge me and who were extremely supportive since that said time. I thank you all for your grace.

But it brings me back to the whole issue of grace. And how tiring grace can be. How are we to treat the people in our lives who hurt us? I know my first reaction to being hurt is pain, and it takes a long time for that pain to become ‘righteous’ indignation and anger. But when I am angry… Oh man! I construct a brain-full of bitingly clever and condemning things I would say to the person who caused my hurt (if I only had the opportunity) and I can dwell in that place of unforgiveness and angry self righteousness for days. Yep. Days. You would think this was the tiring part, not the grace. But the problem is, once the anger has run its course, the next stage for me is always the asking of the same question, “So what can be done to make me okay again?” And the answer is always – grace.

Now don’t go thinking I am some kind of saint or something because, in a weird kind of way, it is in the extending of grace and forgiveness that I become free. The issue or conflict stops being my problem and, at the point of my forgiveness, all responsibility for the matter is hand-balled to my opponent. On the surface it makes grace and forgiveness sound even kind of selfish.

But, equally, please don’t go thinking I am entirely selfish. Because grace and forgiveness are a constant thing. Just because I decide to forgive one day, doesn’t mean the hurtful act, or words, or lack of action, will not hurt me again tomorrow or sometime in the future, creating the need to forgive the same hurt again. And again.

I thought I would mix it up recently. I am so tired of grace. I found myself in a situation with a person, where the thought of extending grace (where favour was really not deserved) felt like a total waste of time and energy. So I thought I would just cut from the person completely. I knew I had to share it with a mutual friend so I told the mutual friend of my decision. He listened. Then he said, “You know what? That doesn’t sound like the woman whose heart I know. The woman I know would extend grace. You need to extend grace.”

And I know he is right. And I know this response will always be right. I know grace is where real healing can begin, even if complete restoration never happens. Even if trust and respect have been compromised forever. But I am so tired… Of grace.

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So Judge Me #5: Why do I Blog?

This month has been quite, quite strange, yeah? First, my computer, who we shall call Best Friend, died. Messages about a fatal hard disk issue had popped up for some time and, luckily, I heeded the warnings and copied all my photos and documents before Best Friend passed away.

It is also a month leading up to anniversaries. Around this time last year, we had two of our clients tragically die. Both were bigger than life personalities, who we would see every single day and who considered our drop in center home. I think because they passed so quickly to each other – within three weeks – I have had a lot of trouble processing the grief. I still see them everywhere, reflected in strangers. Or the memory of them in the places they always frequented. I hadn’t factored on the high risk of people dying when I started working at the center, but of course it was always possibly going to happen. The women we work with often get assaulted and live shunned and unprotected, on the edge of society. They are extremely vulnerable.

Then I got a little sick. I contracted Pityriasis Rosea. It was itchy but not dangerous or highly contagious.

But then, a friend asked me, “Why do you blog?” and, for the life of me, I couldn’t come up with an answer. Is it some strange need to be heard? Do I believe I have ideas or experiences the world needs to share? Is it merely journalling? If so, why journal publicly and not share my most intimate experiences or beliefs? It began to do my head in and I am not sure I have worked it out. But, I think blogging has something to do with having a creative outlet. Hmmm. Not sure! Please let me know why we blog, fellow bloggers.

Anyway, I find I can’t stop. I love to blog and will probably continue until I have nothing more to say.

Blessings and peace.

Brunswick Coffee Shops x 2: The Surprise Finds

IMG_2185I had heard of Code Black Coffee house and had particularly admired their décor and quirky marketing, so I was determined to sample the real product last week, when fabric shopping with Liz. Liz doesn’t drink coffee at all so I want to say a special thanks to her for allowing me to trawl cafes when we are out together. Thank you Liz. Anyways, Code Black is an incredibly cool place with a very masculine, hard edge industrial ambience. I liked their coffee but it took AGES and I even had to remind the dudes of our order. Beautiful choclatey tones but a little too cold for my personal taste. Very small cups. Then Liz and I ventured across the way from our all time favourite fabric store, GJs, to the East Brunswick Project coffee shop and struck gold.IMG_2241

Great, friendly service, catered for Gluten Free, had lovely juicy focacias for the Gluten Tolerant (Liz rated them 8 out of 10), and even offered your choice of sparkling water (at no cost) or still water. Never encountered such awesomeness in a cafe before. Great coffee. Will always go back.

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So Judge Me #3: Testing God or Laying Down a Fleece?

Shelley Craft…

I need to explain… there was once a ‘So Judge Me #2’ but I took the post down after I was, indeed, judged. So in a kind of tribute to that posting I have skipped to #3 anyway. It is also a reminder to myself that I need to stand strong in my resolve to allow others to judge me -it is usually their problem projected on to me anyway! I’m just not that controversial.

So what has all this got to do with Shelley Craft? Nothing. But isn’t she beautiful? I always liked her but now I have a new respect for her because she is willing to champion causes I am passionate about too, like our little social enterprise at St Kilda Gatehouse. She popped in yesterday with a Channel 9 crew to film another great organisation, Oz Harvest, donating rescued food to Gatehouse. Of course I couldn’t let the opportunity pass without dressing her in one of our products. Sorry Shelley. You were really good about it.

But it got me thinking that so much is happening with the enterprise that perhaps God is right there in the midst of it, enjoying the growing momentum and excitement as much as the rest of us. We made over $1700 in sales at an event on Sunday, I got to photograph many awesome and lovely well known musical people in our swallow tees, and then Shelley drops in on Tuesday. So I talked to God about it this morning. I said, ‘Well now God. Seems like you are right on board with this project? Feels like it anyway?’ (You all have to understand, when your marriage breaks down and there are tough times, it can be difficult to feel that God is on your side because you feel like a bit of a failure. Kind of like you’ve let the team down.)

And then I laid it all out. I said, ‘God, we need another graphic designer on the team. Jane has done an awesome job but I don’t want to overload her so the work stops being fun. I would really like R to come on board. She has a great sense of style and I think she has the skills we need. If you are, as I feel you are, on board with this project, could you make her be at the coffee shop when I go there this morning? Thanks.’

Okay. So was that a test? I don’t even care. All I knew was I hadn’t seen R for over a year and so it was highly improbable she would be down at the coffee shop this morning. Then I kind of forgot all about it.

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Until I went to get my morning’s strong skinny latte from Craig at West48 and I hear someone say, ‘Hi Andie.’

I truly had not seen R for over a year, I had thought about her that same morning, put out the thoughts to God, and there she was! What do you all think?

So Judge Me #1

downloadIt occurred to me today that Jesus can’t have been the perfection-seeking, serious paragon I had always understood him to be. He hung out with sex workers and street people and would have been rejected straight up if he hadn’t cut it.

I hang out with street workers a few days a week in my role as support worker in a drop-in centre for women, and our clients are sweary, brash, naughtily irreverent and very, very funny. They have extremely low self esteem and lives controlled by addiction but they are raw and honest about why they work the streets. I don’t believe they can be so different to the women Jesus hung with. Interesting. Perhaps he preferred interacting with them to the “religious” people, like his disciples, who cared more about how the world perceived them? I know I do.