A Moment of Grace

This is an exerpt from the second chapter of my soon to be released book, Grappling with God: The Battle for Authentic Faith. This book details the process of personal transformation practiced at the Center for Christian Life Enrichment. The chapter emphasizes how grace is both the foundation for and safe haven within which we can do the work of personal transformation. I am recalling one of my early experiences of grace.

Mrs. Henderson was a spiritual mother to me. I had met her through a Christian youth group I joined in high school called Young Life, where kids my age got together to have fun and share fellowship. I was awkward at first at the Young Life gatherings, unsure of myself or whether I fit in, but my experience was of being welcomed just as I was. The adult leaders, too, seemed genuinely pleased that I had come and were visibly and vocally happy when I returned a second and then a third time, and finally became a regular. Being part of Young Life did not magically wash away all the hurt and pain I had inside, but it opened me up to looking at my life as more than just football, which had been the only real connection I had with others in high school.

As I immersed myself in Young Life—going to every meeting, participating in small groups, and attending Bible study—I got to know Mrs. Henderson, who was one of the leaders. She had a large family with five kids, including a daughter about my age. From the beginning, I was accepted as “one of the family” by Mrs. Henderson.

Although I was aware that Patsy had a crush on me, I considered us to be just friends.  After high school, Patsy and I attended different colleges, and she began a career as a semi-professional singer. While home from college one weekend, I was invited to attend one of Patsy’s concerts. Afterwards, she invited me back to her house. Patsy made it seem as if there were going to be other people there.  When I got to the house, however, Patsy and I were alone. Pretty soon things were getting hot and heavy between us. Then Mrs. Henderson walked in.

The moment Mrs. Henderson looked at me, I felt like a dog that had jumped the fence. I was the guy who was allowed to be in the house at any time, and I had violated that trust. “Get out of here, right now!” Mrs. Henderson yelled. I was surrounded by shame.

I tore out of there as fast as I could. I got in my car and drove back to school, all the while kicking myself for how stupid I had been. My whole life to that point had been spent avoiding circumstances that could get me into trouble.  It wasn’t that I was so virtuous; I just wanted to appear good and not get caught doing anything wrong so people wouldn’t be mad at me or think less of me. Now I was up to my neck in hot water with Mrs. Henderson.

After a sleepless night, I called Mrs. Henderson the next morning and told her I needed to talk with her.

“I would love to talk with you,” she told me.

When I pulled into the driveway, Mrs. Henderson opened the front door to her house and greeted me. As I approached, my tears flowed; I couldn’t say anything other than how sorry I was. Putting her arms around me, Mrs. Henderson assured me she understood what happened. All was well, and our relationship was restored.

Here was an experience unlike anything that had ever happened to me before.  Here was forgiveness and acceptance in spite of the fact that I had violated the trust of someone whose opinion of me mattered very much. Here was love that was not dependent on being good or compliant.

Here was grace.

CLE is a community built on grace. It is because of the grace we share that we are able to see the truth about ourselves and  learn how to share it responsibly with others. The counseling and therapy we offer is not religious or dogmatic–it reflects the genuineness and authenticity of Christ.


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Published: 08.04.2011 / 02:59 PM

Category: Grappling with God,Relationships,Spiritual Growth

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