She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best in dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and in her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
I think of you as I sit at my desk this morning. The light is pale and cold. Wind surges through the trees, snatching at the leaves as they struggle to stay attached. A lone dog barks in the distance.
It’s been hard, hasn’t it, this season? I know. I see how it has lasted for much longer than you thought it would. I see the weariness and exhaustion that sets in after your dreams slowly ebb away, year after year. Clinging onto faith and hope can sometimes drain the life right out of you.
I see the way you’ve been shamed by the very people who were supposed to accept and love you unconditionally. I see how you’ve been misunderstood, dismissed and discounted. Those thoughtless words and pitying glances have been absorbed deep into your soul until you’ve been marked by the labels abandoned and unwanted. You’ve seen yourself through society’s eyes as not chosen, not enough, too complicated, too much. I’ve seen your hesitancy and your isolation as you’ve felt excluded from life experiences that form common bonds between women. You’ve stood outside your culture’s norms of marriage and children and wondered: why not me?
I see you go to church, week after week, each time battling through the anxiety of wondering who will sit with you, who will talk to you, who will notice you. I’ve seen you flinch as the preacher names the congregation as a family and then exhorts them to prioritise their spouse and their kids. Who should I prioritise? you think, and who will prioritise me? Where do I fit into this picture of family? To whom do I belong?
I’ve seen the times you’ve been scooped up and taken care of, and the times you’ve had to survive the struggle on your own. I’ve seen the ways you’ve been held close and the ways you’ve been hurt. I’ve seen when people have loved you and when they have left you.
I’ve seen your anxiety and your resilience as you make decisions alone. I’ve seen your disquiet and your surrender as you’ve faced an uncertain future. I’ve felt your ache and your courage as you plan and shape a life you didn’t expect or want. I’ve seen the way your grief goes by largely unnoticed and misunderstood as you try to adjust to a new normal.
I see you.
And here’s what I know. This, too, is a place where grace can seep in. Right among the cracks and the scattered pieces of broken dreams. In the heartbreak and the anger, the questions and the sadness, there is enough grace, even here.
Grace holds space for all your emotions. It makes room for the unexpected. Grace softens sharp edges and brings comfort. Grace shows up in all kinds of ways. It is there for the moments your friends can hold you and for the moments they can’t. It is there for the days you’re flourishing and the days you’re not. It settles in the emptiness and the ache. It is there to catch you when you fall.
Grace whispers your name in the rustle of the leaves and the smell of the rain. It calls out to you in the darkness and the daylight. It speaks your name in the language of kindness and hope. It burns your old labels to ashes and creates something new, something beautiful. Grace names you beloved, chosen, wanted.
Grace holds you secure. It nourishes your roots in the soil of love and care. Grace tends to your wounds gently and calls you whole, complete, enough. It crowns you with wisdom and strength, beauty and tenacity, peace and joy.
It’s evening now, and the light outside my window has mellowed. The wind is still and the leaves that were once rattled so violently are now at rest, bathed in the golden glow of the sun’s last rays. All is grace.