Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Lesson In Grace


I must say, I've known the insult "spoiled" in a very personal way. For a long time (and it hasn't stopped just because I'm 23 years old), my sisters have seen the help I receive from my grandpa - be that financial, moral, or logical - and have responded, almost always, in the same way:

"You are so spoiled, Jason."

I was always angered when I heard it, and that just fed into the well-known stereotype of the youngest in any family: "First he's spoiled, then he throws a tantrum. All he wants is attention."

But I appreciated - and still do - the help from my grandfather, and although I never thought I deserved it, I accepted it without question. Maybe that's the reason my sisters still drop that accusing word in my presence. (Lord knows I provide enough of a reaction that it makes sense for them to say it, even if the situation hardly calls for it.) I never turned down help, which goes against the West Texas grain by which we were all raised. Make it on your own, we were told. Don't put anybody out. Don't be a burden. Stand alone.

Good advice in certain circumstances, sure. But on the whole it stinks of the overwhelming need in America to 'go it alone' and achieve some super-independence from the rest of the human community. I never got that. I was - and still am - a "Momma's boy", and whenever I received help, I took it. Of course, I still had an incurable urge to pay them back, and I still - subconsciously - keep miniscule tabs on favors done and favors received.

But that's the crazy thing about grace. It is given to us, no strings attached, and the hardest thing we have to do is accept it. Nothing is needed in return. We are loved simply because we are. What a wonderful thing it is to be loved! Surely we don't need to 'pay someone back' for loving us. It's so grace-filled of an action that it's against our nature to understand it.

Yesterday, I was informed by the co-chair of the organization for which I work, Jeannine Janson, that she wanted to purchase a new laptop for my coming excursions in the world of graduate school. My jaw dropped. I cannot POSSIBLY accept this, can I? How can...what...there's no way that....oh, man.

But that's the crazy thing - as much as I feel I don't deserve this uncontainable kindness that IS Jeannine, it is so exciting and liberating to just say YES. Can I ever repay her? No. But that's not the point. To look to repay is to look in the wrong place. Can I ever rejoice enough? No, but I will definitely try.

Am I spoiled? I think I'm just open to receiving grace in this imperfect world. I wait for the time when I am in the position to give someone a gift like the one I have been given. I wait for the moments in life when I experience grace so wonderfully as in the limitless generosity of my friend Jeannine.

Thank you. That's really all you have to say. It's not being spoiled; it's being loved.

Grace be upon us all!

4 Comments:

At 1:03 PM , Blogger Meow said...

It's a beautiful gift to be able to accept love from others. People want to give, and they want their gifts to be openly received.

Saying yes doesn't make you any less thankful. Knowing you have the ability to say yes also doesn't make you expectant of receiving gifts. There's a big difference between thinking the world owes you something and knowing that if it gives you something you'll be happy about it.

Way to go on the laptop.

 
At 3:16 PM , Blogger Jason said...

Good call roomie. Good call, indeed.

 
At 10:49 PM , Anonymous Katie said...

Jason Chesnut, sometimes your words make my day.

 
At 3:57 PM , Anonymous Luke Leverett said...

You know, Jason, I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Grace is so hard to accept, isn't it? It's because of our pride. We don't want to admit that we need help. We'd like to think that we're pretty self-sufficient, we can pay our own way. But, according to scripture, grace is for the humble. When we're too prideful to accept a free gift, from God or anyone, we miss out on the blessing.

 

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