Kaylee, you need to do this, my friend said, Look in the mirror and say “I love Kaylee.”
He said it with gusto and confidence. Then he said it again, this time he said it full of grace and compassion, almost as a whisper, I love Kaylee.
You always talk about mercy and grace, he added, then paused, If you want to know what that is, that’s it! I love Kaylee.
I was convinced I love Kaylee had NOTHING to do with mercy and grace and so I set out to prove him wrong. That, and divorce provided me with so much extra time with nothing to do it just sort of happened out of complete boredom one day. I found myself in front of a mirror, hands on my hips yelling: I love Kaylee!
It sounded weird.
I tried it again, only louder.
I tried it sweeter and softer with like a sassy tone to it.
Suuuuper weird. (think that ONE time you tried making out with yourself in the mirror prior to your first real kiss just to see if you were any good at it.)
I don’t know why but I kept at it each day. It served as some sort of comic relief in the midst of the dark and hard of divorce. Sometimes I’d even catch a glimpse of my reflection in the bathroom doorway as I passed by. I’d quickly pause, throw my hands on my hips, strike a pose and proclaim it again, and again, and again. And somewhere along the lines the word ALL was added. I love Kaylee. ALL of me.
Slowly it started to be a part of me that I carried with me throughout my day.
When I’d get scared, I’d say, I love Kaylee. I love the Kaylee that doesn’t see hope for her future right now.
If I didn’t do a very good job at parenting Bella I’d say, I love Kaylee. I love the Kaylee that didn’t know what she was doing right there. She’s going to try it again next time and maybe do it better. But I love Kaylee right now. ALL of her.
The shakey, scared and ugly parts of me always existed. I just had gotten really good at hiding them. Adam and Eve hid too. It was their shame, the parts of themselves they didn’t love that they hid behind leaves. But God sought them out saying, I see you. You know this, right? The leaves were only a mask. They didn’t stop being themselves because of the leaves.
Hiding doesn’t change reality.
The parts of us that seem so scary and ugly can’t even begin to change until we first let the light touch them. By giving myself mercy (space to be human) and grace (permission to accept myself in the “as is today” moments) I started to feel authentic, like I was coming out of hiding.
I love Kaylee felt so good, I started telling my friends the same thing: I love you. All of you. I even got little tiny pins of an “olive” because I remember how back in middle school you could mouth the words “olive you” and it would look like you said “I love you.” The brilliant part was the pin, in its own way, said both: Olive (I love) you. Olive (all of) you.
So I ordered a lot. I can’t tell you how excited I was to click confirmation on that Amazon order, equipping myself with little love tokens, certain I was going to change the world one olive pin at a time.
These tiny little words began to completely transform all the relationships around me.
I felt like I was coming out of hiding.
I felt like my friends were coming out of hiding.
Friends could tell me their addiction, their struggle or their deepest fear and I didn’t have to change them. I didn’t have to fix it. I just had to say, I see you. I see you and I love you. All of you. Always.
God set forth the world into motion. He’s always moving things forward. He’s always working for our good. That we can trust in. But it’s really hard to let anything change if we have to keep it buried and stuffed in the depths of our souls. It’s mercy and grace that invites us to purge it all out so we can take a good hard look at it and decide what next.
Mercy and Grace. That’s it.
That’s exactly what it is.