Call it, Grace.

When I was a child I used to suck my thumb. I had started with a pacifier but with two older brothers, one barely out of nappies and the other still in his diaper changes daily with me, that damn thing got stolen all the time. Literal POP out of my mouth, by a sibling who just happened to have faster speed and better motor skills. It’s funny when you have something taken, over and over again. You either learn to live without, learn to live to appreciate it when you do have it, or you learn to reject it completely, using will and brain power to prove to yourself you no longer need it; or my personal favorite you can choose to adapt, modify, and improvise in order to move forward. The last option, in my opinion takes not only brain power, but also a will stronger than your circumstance to identify what you need and then find something to make-shift. As an infant, I learned very quickly that I had ten available pacifiers. No matter how much someone might want me to give up a thumb for a very real pacifier, once I had learned that I didn’t need a physical pacifier and no one could take away my make-shift option. I learned I had the power and ability to find and do things myself. As a child, I became unstoppable.

In these first few years, this thumb became a security blanket as well as a way to naturally suppress any outbursts that might get my ass a spanking. Funny thing, but when you have something physically in your face, it is difficult to argue, question or talk back to anything you may not feel like participating in. I learned I had the will, to shove my feelings deep down, doing what was necessary to keep that ass in ship shape. When I was six years old, I went to visit my cousin in Texas. My cousin was also a thumb sucker. Funny thing… but when you see someone doing what you are doing, it suddenly takes on a new perspective. Seeing my cousin, drool and slurp on her thumb like it was scrapings off a plate did it for me, my eyes had been opened! Not only that, I was OLDER! She was doing something, like an infant, but yet seeing my actions, in a younger child, forced me to see, I was not a baby and did not need my thumb. I went home, a non-thumb sucker from that trip alone, so disgusted with myself and my cousin, for her now bad-habit; I was cured, healed in an instant from the need. Self-control got a new super-power, perspective.

Our brains are such powerful tools, so complex in how we learn, process and evolve; each brain has the same basic functions, but all process things differently. I love watching my own kids grow and learn as each will do so differently, with gifts and strengths their own. I can’t help contrasting some of the beliefs and ideals I have held onto, the lessons I learned as an infant and child, from resurfacing. It’s like when I see my seven-year-old do something, at age seven, and am instantly taken back to how she did that when she was just 1, in the exact same way, how she learned or taught herself to adjust to accomplish whatever.

One of these funny life lessons I learned, was through patience, how to be silent and how to run. I didn’t even realize I had brought this fight or flight skill into my marriage, for the first 7 years of my marriage, feeling alone, because I had been alone, in a crowd my whole life. This agreement alone, damaged and held us back from reaching goals. Like an infant, I’ve had to go back to some of the things I naturally do, or the ways in which I process information and start with the easy stuff. Milk Before Solids.

An area I have been consistently checking for old bad habits that just really want to die harder, is around friends, money and my flight. Am I flying for myself or my ass? Is there danger I can’t overcome or just a choice about what I am willing to risk, with what I believe?

A while ago, I had an opportunity to turn and face a friend, who chose to be an enemy in a moment of absolute chaos. I had every entitlement, proof and counsel willing to see me through, and yet I turned to solitude, My Father and the support of my church. Even when I had the opportunity to again, face this giant and slay the beast for truth, I turned back in on myself, questioning absolutely everything. Then one day, I was walking the lake with a mentor, when she turned and asked me, knowing I could have victory if I chose and asked me why I didn’t take it?

To me, it was very simple.  I knew a girl I had worked with; brave, young and fiercely searching for truth, beauty and her inner warrior. I mentored her, loving every ounce of her spirit, choosing to pour strength, teaching her about boundaries and the love and grace, the gift of what it means to love through difficult circumstances. She reminded me of a young thumb sucker, yet showed every willing talent, every willing fiber of her being that sought another way, another option. She was so teachable and worthy of love, it was joy to be with her and mentor her. I worked with her and was shocked the day her termination was announced over a family lunch. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t believe it. Unbeknownst to me, a few months later, and I would be following her footsteps out the door. I love taking copious notes for this very reason. Sometimes, we can’t understand, even when the answer is in front of our face, but a few months later, ink doesn’t lie.

“I remember an employee who was terminated for one false move. Black and White, Right is Right, wrong is wrong. But if you looked at the girls motives, there were extenuating circumstances; at the base of her decision, it was FOR the good. Not against. Not robbing. With permission. She was someone who needed grace, to be raised up in business-education through those tough life-moments where businesses are learning more and more, we have to grow the people, because we certainly do not all come from the same set of rules and expectations. We do not all have the same understanding even, of Christ, which is why, when you introduce it as part of the business-culture, You must lead by example.”

She was worthy, and she was willing to learn from her mistakes. She was willing to go without, to learn what she could do with what she had left. It was a reckless mistake firing her. As I spoke with my mentor and explained this to her, it all snapped into a form I could explain, even if it made me sound insane. To me, the situation with this girl reminded me of a story in the Bible, about how a really, really rich guy, gets ALL his debt forgiven, completely wiped clean. He is unbelievably relieved, grateful and thanks his master. Yet, when he leaves those very gates, he finds the first guy who owes him money, a TEENY, tiny fraction of the cost he had just been forgiven. As the story goes, this man, throws his friend(for WHO else would you borrow or go to in time of need??) in jail, to rot until his family can pay to redeem his debt. When BOTH their master learns of this, he is furious. If you had to guess, do you think the guy who not only lent money, but then borrowed WAY more, and was forgiven-scotch-free walked away free?? No, his ass ends up in jail. He is forever removed from the grace and love, he could not accept. Notice, it wasn’t about the money. It was about how he had received forgiveness for way more than he could ever repay, and then still demanded MORE from those who owed him less. It didn’t wash out. So… this story is essentially how I see my former company with how they introduced a culture that they couldn’t support and this girl…we all have learning curves. But what about myself.. My mentor, wanted to know, why couldn’t I go after what I was owed, what was right, what was true. I was not a slave who had been forgiven in this story, or the lesser man caught on a bad day, who couldn’t repay what I had borrowed… But I also don’t drink milk anymore.

Maybe today, it feels like the walls are closing in. Maybe today, it feels like the pain I have put on my family and on our finances is crushing us, but I know, I am already that first man in the story. I have been blessed in every way, except financial peace and security. Since before I was 18, I have worked, fought for every promotion and asked for every ounce of what I know my worth is. I don’t always get it, but I will go after it. So, if I have been blessed, spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally to learn how to do without and improvise with what I do have, Why would I suddenly become the greedy first man? When I take it to the next level, I have no argument to stand with, for I know, my glory, my riches or lack thereof on this earth are not defined by what I do, how much I have or how much I give. My eternal worth, my eternal inheritance is already tripled compared to what I can see or imagine. And since I know who lives within me, and I am about my father’s work, then I must re-examine this story and say.. It’s not about the money. Take the money out and replace it with any spiritual gifting.. What if the first guy had been WAY more blessed with prophecy, spiritual gifts of wisdom and faith? What if he messed up, got a prophecy wrong and then had to face his master to deal with the consequences? God’s forgiveness applies to it all. So then, what if the forgiven man, left and found his friend, a way less skilled prophet, who had dealt him a bad tarot reading and thrown his ass in jail for false-prophecy? Either way you shake this one out, the man with the superior knowledge of the master, the man with the superior gifts has a choice to learn from his master, and forgive in grace and mercy or take revenge.

I know, my inheritance from the Father, in this world or the next, is greater than I can imagine. I know, God will redeem what has been lost. He will absolutely catch me up, for if he will forgive all my debt, what more will he not give me to make sure his kingdom is filled to the brim with love, grace and forgiveness; Mercy, abundance and blessing.

Today, I may be dealing with fires from that choice. Today, it may be my ass on the line from those choices, but no matter the pain, no matter the choice in front of me, I refuse to be as graceless, and unjust and as merciless, because it doesn’t matter what someone else has, or why they have it.. I am responsible for my ass. I am responsible for my choices. Maybe on this earth, I look like the poor fool, caught on a bad day, with empty pockets and no way to repay. But I know, this earth and this day, do not define me. I could not hurt friends further, I could not damage relationships further.. And not because God couldn’t have fixed that too.. His ways are higher, better and absolutely possible in ALL things. But Why Darling Love, WHY are we asking him to put us back on milk, when we are ready for solid food??

That, to me, is the difference between faith and acceptance. I can choose to suck my thumb and look like an idiot at 30 years old if I wanted to.The sweetest gift, life can give, is when some of our old habits, actually get re-purposed, with his glory in mind and the GOOD of our future. Learning to be patient, taught me to not react in anger, defense or self-protection. My father also taught me how my fight or flight can be put to better use, when running to the Father becomes the only answer to every obstacle in life. I can fall back into ways and habits that depend on my understanding, my view and my perspective, with my knowledge. OR I improvise, having confident faith that God will save me, I can have expectant faith that God is who he says he is.. I can have hopeful faith, that he will redeem my life, even if  my choices played a role. I can even test God and ask him, if it were his will for me to take what was mine, yet when I did that very thing and he gave me the choice, the victory mine for the taking, I gave it back, choosing love and to wait for his promise, because I trust him.. And anything that feels like robbing, stealing or destroying is another thing I run from. God has never once sent me to destroy a city, you never know what that Guy is up to. I am open to it, but He hasn’t asked, yet.

More than faith, when you accept your identity from the Father, when you learn to accept the Father, you must identify and then actually do the work to unlearn old habits, dying harder than you ever have in your life, to bring a better life, than you have yet imagined. We cannot expect to be raised to immortal life, if we do not live now, like we already have it. Just the same, we cannot ask God to bless us, if we are not also willing to bless and love others, raising them to wean from milk to solid food. There are always reasons to stick to what you know, what you’ve always done. But what if, just this once, you believed everything you ever felt in your heart? It’s not magic. It’s not based on tarot readings.. Your mind is strong and capable. Ask, seek and knock. Expect to be surprised. Expect to be redeemed. Expect to be found. Expect a miracle. It’s what His Story is about. Don’t think of yourself as the poorer man. Most times, especially where money is concerned, it can be false-positive, or really really fun trying to get that camel through the eye of the needle depending on how you shift your perspective. If you already blessed to know your master, then you already know your Redeemer, and he hasn’t called himself that since Jesus hit the scene. Now, we get to be friends. Friends watch your ass. Great friends, have more fun, when the spankings are mutually agreed upon, and the trouble is worth pursuing. And a REALLY great friend, may even ask you to do it harder. Find joy Friends… Find joy, today. Our King is alive. Die Hard, knowing the victory is already ours.