Grace. Grace is favor unmerited. An act of kindness we don't deserve. God loving us and saving us when we can't save ourselves. Benevolence.
When I was a youth pastor, we used to have this code name for kids who were, well, special. They didn’t fit it socially, or they didn’t have great hygiene, were awkward….we called them “EGR” or “Extra Grace Required.” We all have those people in our lives that just require a little more patience and kindness than others.
Now that I am a mom of special needs kids, I am reminded of that term often. My whole life is “Extra Grace Required.”
There is extra grace required when:
- My kid spills her drink EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL.
- My kid, at almost 8 still can’t get dressed on her own.
- There are always crumbs on the floor, like EVERYWHERE, because they can’t navigate utensils well.
- I have to repeat instructions ad infinitum because the alcohol damage has affected their memories. They just now, after 4 years of hair washing understand that they have to keep their chin up to keep soap out of their eyes.
- I can’t just lie in bed in the morning because they minute they wake up they need food and meds, or all hell breaks loose.
- She eats dog food, dirt, paper, food off the car floor....
- Her PTSD causes her to lash out at me when she falls off her bike and gets hurt, even though I am 200 feet away.
- They never, ever, stop talking.
- She constantly needs supervision because her executive functioning is damaged and she can't come up with constructive things to do on her own or keep herself safe.
But there are so many ways that I have seen God's beautiful grace in our lives because of these two girls. There are so many times that I am extra grace required, and they shower their sweet benevolence on me.
- God's grace was given when I begged for more children, and we found these two precious girls.
- There's grace when I get a hug and a kiss, fierce with love and meaning after I lose my patience.
- Grace shows its face when my sweet girl brings me a flower she found outside.
- I feel God's grace when I hear, “You’re the best mom, ever.” Because they know what it’s like to have some pretty bad moms.
A pastor I once worked for called God's good gifts "grace stacked upon grace". And that's how God is. His benevolence may not look like what we had hoped for, but it is always exactly what we need.
Our life with these kids is crazy messy, stressful, and exhausting. It's also full of surprises, unexpected learning, laughter, and joy. Our girls are definitely "Extra Grace Required", but really, aren't we all?
2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.