Monday, October 5, 2015

The Grace of Reminders: A Reminder of Grace

As many (most?) of you know, I started a new call in Boise, ID, almost two months ago (in fact, it will be two months ago exactly this Saturday when my Installation service will be held! Yay!). As some of you also may know, I am really bad with names. Like, unusually bad for someone whose job it is to connect with people. It's not that I don't remember people (although sometimes, especially when I've met several hundred new people over the course of a short period of time, that can be a contributing factor) it's just that names don't stick in my head very well. Usually, I can get around this pretty well by using some helpful techniques (repeating a person's name when they introduce themselves, double checking their name before saying goodbye, listening carefully to conversations for when names come up, etc.) but it's still a frustrating obstacle to entering a new community.

One of the unusual things about this new call, though, is that I'm finding it much easier to remember names than I usually do. I've even already got some last names and family connections memorized! Maybe I've just gotten better at this skill with practice. Maybe I'm not actually any better, I'm just feeling less anxious about it. Maybe everyone in Idaho just has more memorable names than people back east (I doubt it). But regardless of what ACTUALLY has made the difference, there is one thing that absolutely FEELS like it has made all the difference. Many of the people here in my new community have made a point of introducing themselves to me two, three, or even more times.

I didn't ask them to. I'm sure that THEY haven't forgotten who I am. I certainly hope I haven't had a panicked look on my face that informed them of my need for a reminder. They've just gone out of their way, of their own volition, to open our conversations with, "I know you've met so many new people recently; I'm so-and-so, just in case you've forgotten."

I can't begin to tell you what a blessing this has been for me. It seems like such a small, insignificant thing, but it's been life-giving to me in the midst of so many transitions. It's told me, "We're happy you're here, and we want you to feel at home." It's told me, "We're putting ourselves in your shoes, and we know how tough this can be." It's told me, "We know that sometimes it's hard to ask for what you need, so we want to offer it to you anyway." It's told me, "We know you're a community leader, but we also know you're not perfect, and that's okay." This small, simple gesture has reminded me that their is grace in the midst of change, grace in the midst of newness, grace in the midst of jumping-in-with-both-feet.

When people around here remind me of their names, they're reminding me of something that, by all accounts, I should already know. But they don't hold it against me. They simply offer a gentle reminder until I can remember on my own.

And isn't that just like our relationship with God's grace? It's something we already know--and sometimes feel guilty forgetting about--but it's continually and patiently poured out nonetheless. Until we get it. Until it clicks. As long as it takes.

Reminders of grace don't have to be grand gestures. Sometimes, they're as simple as an unsolicited word or an unearned moment of compassion. How have you been a reminder of grace today?

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