love / reflections

the grace party

You know what’s fun? I mean wild, exhilarating fun?
Loving without expectations.

It’s like Christmas when you were a kid:
everything you receive is an unexpected delight.
It’s the best kind of happy,
the kind that makes you dance
or at least laugh from someplace deep down,
the kind where people accuse you of being on something.

That’s what love will do to you when you give it away for free.

Most of the time, we don’t even know we’re packing these expectations around,
all slung over our back like the ugly deformities they are.

Debt is not a fun place to be, on either side of things,
and when people owe us
good behavior and apologies
and respect and perfection,
not to mention mind-reading abilities and making us happy
— I mean, that thing is never going to get paid off.
None of us have the kind of funding needed for those luxuries.

It cheapens love, they say, to just give it away for free like that.
But maybe they haven’t needed grace like I have.
Maybe their hearts haven’t wandered,
maybe they’ve never hidden in shame,
maybe they’ve never made the same mistake over and over and over
like the skipping records I would listen to growing up.

To us who’ve needed it, that grace is the only thing
that keeps you alive,
brings you back,
reminds you of who you really are,
just like the Prodigal Son, the Big Screw Up Who Got A Party Anyway.

Because grace is a party and God wants all of his kids at it,
celebrating that there’s enough love
and forgiveness and fattened cows for everyone.

Grace is only expensive when we refuse to come to the party
because the truth is, it costs you nothing to give away what you got for free yourself.

Sometimes we worry we’ll run out of love
but I promise that only happens faster if you make it conditional.
It takes too much work to figure out if the conditions are being met
and how much we’ll fudge on this line we’ve so definitively drawn
and what to do when the person inevitably slips
— because they will; they are human and failure is part of that deal.

It’s your call and it always has been.
You can keep your expectations or you can keep your joy;
you don’t have enough room for both.

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