My husband and I both really like a song from a couple years ago called “Hard to Love.” He likes it because he freely admits that many of the lyrics apply to him, and I like it because I agree.
Of course I do. I mean, what’s a girl to do when her husband acknowledges that, like the singer, he’s insensitive and has a short fuse? This girl pumps her fist and says, “Yes! Finally you get it! You don’t deserve me, that’s right!”
Fortunately – though I still like the song – my selfish interpretation of the lyrics didn’t last too long, thanks in part to this song’s excessive play on the radio for a few months. Even if my husband and I joked about the song and elbowed each other good-naturedly when it came on, I still wish I hadn’t raised my eyebrows and agreed so vehemently with him about his faults and my supposed perfection. Especially when, every time the DJ plays the song (again), I hear these lyrics, too:
You’re like a Sunday morning full of grace and full of Jesus.
And I wish that I could be more like you.
Oh. That. I haven’t asked him, but I would be surprised if my husband thinks I’m full of grace and full of Jesus. I love Jesus and I’m familiar with grace, but full of either one? No, I’m afraid not.
As I began to realize how convicting this song was – for me, not for my husband – I wondered just how many ways I am hard to love.
I might not be insensitive, but is it possible that being overly sensitive can be just as difficult? As for the short fuse, well, my daughter can certainly attest to that being something I share with my husband.
However, my realization from analyzing a country song wasn’t about how I’m a horrible person, unlovable even. No, if anything I think most of us are pretty unlovable in our own ways. That’s what makes love so incredible, such a miracle. What all my thinking and singing and song lyric rewriting has taught me is that pointing out others’ flaws doesn’t just hurt them and withhold affection from them, it robs me of the gift of grace.
My word for the year is grace. God has brought me far in my understanding of grace over the past several years, but I have a long way to go. And thinking about this song in a new way is another lesson in my word, grace.
When I see the faults of others and choose to love them anyway? Or, even more radically, love them with those faults, in those faults? I’m offering grace.
When I feel hurt by others – neglected or overlooked or taken for granted – but choose to give them the benefit of the doubt? And forgive? I’m offering grace.
When I remember that I’m just as hard to love, at times more, than anyone else I could elbow or give a pointed look when I hear that song (or read the book or listen to the sermon)? I’m offering grace.
And when I accept this lesson, write it down in my heart and move on stronger instead of beaten down with self-condemnation about how I missed the point again and hurt others again? Grace, so much grace.
As I think about how much I have to learn about grace, I’m relieved the year isn’t over yet. Not that my education will end come New Year’s Eve, but I don’t want to let the year slip by without uncovering what God has for me in this season. Then again, in my research on this topic, one quote has stuck out to me most:
“That is the mystery of grace: it never comes too late.” -François Mauriac
And even in that, there is grace.