Growing in Grace
By Marty Norman –
The spiritual journey is long. With each step we move one step closer or one step farther from the image of Christ. It is only through God’s grace and mercy that we grow.
Over and over the scripture explains that God is in the business of refining and purifying. John tells us that nothing is impossible for our God and Romans that God will make something good out of everything. It is normal for him to place each of us in the refiner’s fire because he is working on perfecting the final product.
For the past two months I have been in the refiner’s fire. Recently I moved my mom from the home that she has lived in for 45 years to a retirement home. To say that this experience was a test of character is an understatement.
The situation was clear. Although she is extremely active, everyone agreed that it was time. She was the one who broached the subject and initiated the transfer. None of us were prepared for the emotional and physical drain that would result from this endeavor.
The exercise began as a move; it quickly morphed into a memory walk. As we carefully combed each cabinet and drawer, I experienced the dismantlement of a lifetime -eighty-seven years of memories; eighty-seven years of life. Pictures, scrapbooks, mementos, pieces of furniture, clothing, dishes and serving pieces, each with a story, each with a memory attached. It was mind boggling. I had no idea some of my mom’s journey.
The most amazing part was that she knew what each piece or fragment represented. She remembered each story with clarity. She had written and carefully taped the story of each picture and piece of furniture on the back. Her life was played out before me in a drama I could not have imagined. I saw her as the lead role in a way I had never seen before.
The move lasted way too long and was started way too early. I was exhausted. But for my mom it was too short with not enough time. It made me wonder how much time one has to review and clean out a lifetime?
I learned a lot about my mom over the past two months. I learned a lot about myself. I learned to be patient when it took three hours to clean out or pack a cabinet, and I knew I could have done it in thirty minutes. I learned how much she loved her family as she laid awake nights thinking about which member to give each item. I could have distributed them in minutes, but the process took days. I observed the immense pleasure she received as she gifted the items. I watched the joy of the receiver. I saw with precision how well she knew each of us and how much this all meant to her. I learned to slow myself down, to match each step to hers as I allowed dignity and time to close this chapter of her book.
Did I grow in grace? You bet! Was I refined and purified along the way? Without a doubt! But experiencing and watching my mom’s life flash before her eyes I learned about her refinement. Her life lessons are experiences I will treasure for the rest of my days.
Did God speak? You bet he did. But most of all he accomplished the impossible in his time while honoring her timetable? Everything turned out for the best, probably because we mutually respected and allowed the other’s journey as we grew in the grace of a loving father.
I am so grateful for this time of growing in his grace. But most of all I will make changes in my own preparations accordingly because of this experience.
Marty Norman is a wife, mother, and grandmother of five, who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. She is the author of “Generation G – Advice for Savvy Grandmothers Who Will Never Go Gray.” You can learn more about her at: www.martynorman.com, http://martynorman.blogspot.com, http://savvygrandmothers.blogspot.com.