Everyday Grace

Searching for goodness in the ordinary

When Father’s Day is Hard

Jun
11

photo: Miguel Á. Padriñán

My first father was Danny Tanner. Kind but firm, wise, and good at cleaning up messes both physical and emotional, he was who I sometimes pictured as a kid when I thought about what fathers were like. In case you didn’t grow up in the 90s watching basic cable after school, I’m talking about DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle’s dad on the TV show Full House. He always had the answers when his girls got into trouble, and even when they really screwed up, he always let them know he loved them and would always be there for them. This was a far cry from my own father experience. Maybe I gravitated toward Mr. Tanner because my own concept of what a father was was blurry and ungraspable, sort of like trying to remember what someone looked like in a dream. I had a vague outline, but the details never came together. Mr. Tanner was a concrete figure, an example that made sense. (As a little girl, I thought he was a real person, a real dad, so you can imagine my shock later in life when I watched Bob Saget do some standup and my beloved TV dad evaporated into thin air.)

I’ve never met my biological dad. I think the first time I remember realizing this loss was in kindergarten, when the time came to make Father’s Day cards and crafts. Everyone around me had a dad to make something for but me. I don’t say this to get you to feel sorry for me, but to get you to understand that this is when it hit me that I was different from the other kids in this way. I knew what a dad was, I guess, but I had never really thought about where mine was until that point. I went home and asked my mom, and after a long pause, she told me he “ran away.” I’m sure she was just trying to find simple words to explain a complicated thing to a little kid, but I remember thinking, from what? I began to internalize the idea that I was something to run from, or at the very least, not worth sticking around for. (more…)

No Happy Endings

May
28

photo: Lucas Allmann

When I was a little girl, I loved stories. My mom used to read to me all the time, and I learned to read at a pretty young age just by sitting with her and absorbing as she read to me. She read me a lot of stories from the Grimm brothers’ giant book of collected fairy tales, and the copy she had was so old and worn that it no longer had any covers. These stories didn’t always have happy endings, but the best ones did. The prince would show up, the princess would be rescued, the land would be healed, and all would be well. I don’t think the desire for a happy ending is limited to little kids. I think all of us secretly want and hope for a happy ending for ourselves, too – but if I’m being honest, I just don’t think happy endings exist. Let me explain. (more…)

You Can Sit With Us

May
14

A couple of years ago, I got into an intense theological fight with my closest friend. We are both Jesus girls with big bleeding hearts, and though we have a lot in common, we don’t share exactly the same passions and callings (which is perfectly okay!). We were discussing helping and serving others, but the conversation shifted when we started drawing lines between fellow believers and those outside the church. My friend mentioned that she thought it was more important to take care of other Christians than it was to take care of others outside the church, and that the church should be our priority. I totally disagreed with her, saying that those without Jesus to rely on needed our help more. I imagine Jesus looking in on our disagreement and facepalming. Here we were, arguing over how best to love others – instead of just doing it, just loving whomever was in reach as often as we could and in whatever ways we were able. We eventually realized that it’s okay for us to have different passions in this area – my calling might be to reach beyond the walls of the church to those who are suffering and introduce them to my friend Jesus, and my friend’s calling might be to build up the church from the inside so that we will have a healthy home to bring those hurting ones into. Both are needed, both are important. Neither is greater than the other. Both the believer and the unbeliever are precious to Jesus. He still leaves 99 to find the one, but the 99 are still just as important to Him. And as someone who has been both the 99 and the one, I am so grateful.

What if we can even take this a step further? In addition to acknowledging both needs as valid – reaching out to welcome people into Jesus, and making a welcoming place for them to come home to – what if we could blend these actions together? What if the church as a whole began intentionally and radically welcoming those who have historically felt pushed away or marginalized in our society? (more…)

A Backwards Gospel

May
07

photo: David Bartus

Brave ones out in the wilderness who sometimes feel alone in the church, maybe this is for you. I’m gonna be really honest: some of the things folks do in the name of Jesus are head-scratchers to me. Sometimes I wonder if we’re all reading the same Bible.

In the middle of their speeches about how refugees and immigrants are a drain on our society and our resources, don’t they remember the verses where God tells His people to treat the foreigner like family?

In their disdain and indignation that the poor or homeless or single parent or struggling should pull themselves up by their bootstraps with no handouts and no hand-ups, don’t they see the Scriptures where God tells His people to leave some of their crops for those in need, and care for the orphan and widow?

In their adoration of weaponry and war, don’t they remember that Jesus cautioned Peter to wield his own weapon responsibly, telling him that he who lives by the sword will die by it, so lay it down?

In their rants about acceptable and unacceptable kinds of sexuality, don’t they see the verses where Jesus stands over a woman about to be executed for her adultery and tells her He does not condemn her? (more…)