The Grace Narrative

We create narratives by choosing the order of events we share in our story, and the telling promotes a specific point of view. Have you ever challenged the narratives you create in your mind? This past year I examined some stories I have told myself and others about my life and realized that not everything I believed was true. I needed to align my thoughts with the narrative of God’s grace.

Two people can experience the same event, yet each retells the incident differently. The discrepancy might be that one of the storytellers has a better memory. Another reason for the difference is that reality may be too hard to accept, so we remember certain things and forget others. Each of us sees life through a specific lens.

When reality is hard to accept, we choose to remember certain things and forget others.

Last year I asked my older brother what he remembered the last night we were a family with my father and mother. My brother’s order of events surprised me because his memories of that fateful night didn’t align with mine.

My story was that a policeman came knocking at our door to give me, my mom, and my siblings a ride in his police car to take us to our grandparent’s house to live. I thought my father was not home to witness our escape. I also believed my mother had called the police to escort us to our grandparent’s home because my mother was very upset about my father’s frequent visits to the neighborhood tavern.

My brother’s version of the story tells the accurate order of events. He said my grandfather came knocking on our first-floor apartment door. It was dark outside. My father panicked and said a curse word when he realized my grandfather was on the other side of the door with the intent to take us away from him. My grandfather marched into our tiny living room, and my dad became silent, stepped to the side, and helplessly watched his three children and wife hurry to get their stuff and walk out the door.

After my brother told me his memories of that night, I wondered why I never bothered to ask my mom or brother what had happened. Perhaps when I was seven, I thought a policeman taking us away from my father made more sense than my grandfather. I couldn’t make sense of my dad standing silent while his father-in-law took his children away.

Until I was 18, I lived with my grandparents, siblings, and a mother devastated by a failed marriage. While in college at 19, I became a Christian through the teachings of a Christian group that I now understand at the time was a high-control, legalistic, elitist Christian group. I was attracted to the group because of the lack of structure in my family life growing up.

Recently I re-read my detailed dairies from 1977 through 1989 to get the facts about my most formative years as a Christian in this church. I was just as surprised by what my diaries revealed to me as when my brother told me about our last night as a family with my dad.

Just like my brother’s version of the story gave me a dose of reality, my diaries revealed some truths that surprised me and made me sad. I allowed a church organization to step in and tell me that God loves me as long as I am a super committed disciple, which had me believing that I’ll never be good enough. How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show the results? Questions they had you asking yourself when you heard the sermons.

Though this period was decades ago, it wasn’t until last year that I challenged the performance-based narrative those years did to my identity in Christ. I saw that I had perfected the art of following Jesus with a wounded, insecure heart that kept forcing toxic positivity to overcome the lion of fear and unresolved hurts.

Enter the grace narrative.

God specializes in taking the most dire situations and turning them into something beautiful and glorious. I see myself in the middle of my story, and God will make the ending great because his grace will be written all over it. Defeated and negative tapes running through my mind have kept me too long from entering the grace narrative.

The bleeding woman’s story in Mark 5 is a beautiful example of what Jesus does when we open our minds to receive the healing he longs to offer us. I relate to this woman because it would have been easy for her to stay defeated due to her circumstances.

And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I will be made well." 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my garments?" 

31 And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, 'Who touched me?'" 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."   Mark 5:24-34

This woman had suffered much under many physicians, spent all she had, and still bled. My understanding of human nature is that when we do not have a resolution for many years in a particular area of our lives, we can form a narrative that things will never change. We stop believing and give up. We say, “Well, I guess I’ll always be broken in this area of my life.”

But this woman had faith that healing was possible with Jesus. She entered the grace narrative. She said,

"If I touch even his garments, I will be made well."

Notice the order of events in her narrative. Her faith in Jesus changed the ending of her story. Rather than always being the unhealed bleeding woman, she would be made well. Imagine the effort to get through the crowd and get close enough to Jesus to touch his garment. Her faith was so strong that Jesus could distinguish her touch from the people in the crowd pressing in on him.

I want to be like this woman who believed the blessing of healing could be hers because of what she had heard about Jesus. I have learned much about Jesus; it is time to let him change my story.

I have decided to continue to examine the narratives that run through my mind and to ask: “Am I running these thoughts through the lens of God’s grace narrative?” If I’m not, I include Jesus in my story just like the bleeding woman did, and hope comes into view.

5 thoughts on “The Grace Narrative”

  1. Diane, you have always been one of the people that I trusted when we were in the church of christ. You were different from the rest. Sincere and kind. The spirit worked through you even in our strange and terrible church life. God bless you!

  2. Diane, you were one of the people that helped me at the church of christ. You were different, sincere and kind. The spirit worked through you even in those circumstances. The lord has definitely helped you find you way. God’s bless you!

  3. Thank you Diane. I look forward to your emails as I have been confused for so long. We left the church and not God many years ago and I’m so happy, but the scars and misunderstandings still linger. Like little cracks and crevices that don’t always reveal to others, but I feel them. It’s hard to shake the feeling that I’m not doing enough, being enough, etc. Deconstructing these thoughts with a Grace perspective is what I need. Thank you and God bless.

    1. Colleen, I love how you describe cracks and crevices that hold scars and misunderstandings that linger. Very profound. I am so happy you reached out and let me know your thoughts. Embracing God’s grace will be my lifelong pursuit to make up for decades of missing the entire point of God’s grace.

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