My story begins with a telling tale about a woman’s relationship with God at a pivotal stage in life. It started a journey into a spectacular realm of love and grace with irrevocable changes.
Below is just a portion of this tale, which occurred decades ago. Some of you may have already heard my Marble Block story, but I thought it would be a fitting beginning to a blog dedicated to witnessing and pondering the grace of God. Even though this is my story, it could really be yours. The circumstances in our lives may be different, but the hand of God sculpts each of us, as long as we are willing. Whatever your circumstances, whether in joy or pain, my prayer is that you are willing.
The Marble Block
When I had my first child something strange happened in my life. It wasn’t the obvious “new addition to the family” transition, but rather an internal adventure to rival that of Alice in Wonderland. It was as if someone had placed a gigantic block of marble on my lawn, right out in front of my house. The monstrosity was an immense, rough-hewn, piece of rock with intricate veins that swirled throughout. It wasn’t exactly a sight of beauty, in fact it looked quite the eye sore and I was bothered that my neighbors were all privy to it. I figured in some way or another this had to do with motherhood. After all I had had no formal training in the field of parenting. So I decided to go to some of the experts to get some advice on how to handle my marble block.
The Grandmas were first. I asked them, “What should I do with it?” Each one handed me a chisel and instructed me to use it on the marble. So for the first few months and into the first year I chipped away at the solid, dense piece. It was a difficult job, keeping me up most nights with sleepy rituals of guesswork that spilled into my confused days. Feeling unfulfilled with my progress I went in search of more answers. Next it was the doctors. They could only offer me a hammer, but combined with my chisels I felt I was making progress.
Although, it wasn’t long before my frustration grew. I hadn’t even breached past six inches of the massive rock. It was looking worse than when it first appeared on my lawn. I was feeling embarrassed that all my neighbors could see my slow, pitiful progress. I was, after all, an educated woman with a keen sense of order and propriety. I’d met every other challenge in my life successfully; why was this so difficult?
Then, through a network of other mothers more resources came to me. I attended seminars, read books and shared sculpting techniques with others that had discovered the same big rock outside their door when motherhood arrived. I acquired better tools – power tools that rivaled my husband’s. My buffing technique had improved but still the marble wasn’t glistening.
I became discouraged as I compared myself to other mothers who seemed to sculpt effortlessly. I grew tired of the constant chore of picking up after it. Its dusty shards and slivers were a nuisance. There were even times, when in error I had chiseled too much and marred a limb or two of the emerging image from the stone. I would become sad and disillusioned then stop for a while. Although when I began again, because of some inspiration, I became so engrossed that I sometimes created a hazardous environment with all the debris.
Through the years a form had begun to take shape, which inspired hope. Yet I still couldn’t master the technique that would bring the rock to life, give it its shine, or display its glory. I discovered that there was a piece to the puzzle that was missing.
I had searched out family, friends, physicians, educators, professionals and my peers but I hadn’t explored the church. Now the church didn’t give me any additional tools, but it did give me a manual. From the hand of the creator Himself, came tips that inspired more than just hope, they instilled a purpose. Suddenly each and every stroke, chip and buff had meaning. I was given this rock for a reason. Most of the time I moaned and complained about how unfulfilling it was to tend but I realized that all along someone counted on me to complete it.
There even came a day when I realized that I was actually enjoying myself. What had begun as a chore had developed into a labor of love. With habitual care and attention the figure within the rock began to reveal itself to me, and the more I saw, the more I wanted to see. What was so important that God would want me to invest most of my life attending to? Limb by limb the figure almost appeared to be bursting from the captivity of the cold, hard rock. I could see that my toils, tears and triumphs were meant to liberate it. With one more cut into the stone, the visage appeared and knocked me off my feet in shocked surprise.
I couldn’t believe it…. The image was of me! At first this made no sense at all but upon closer examination I understood. It was the promise of what I could become for God by being a mother to my children, a wife to my husband, a daughter to my parents, a sister to my siblings, a friend to my loved ones and a woman of God to the world. Within that cold block of marble was a child of God waiting to emerge. It was I. It is I. It is who God intends for me to be.
My work is far from done. There are whole portions of rock that still cling to my form. There are scars that still have to be buffed out. There are dull portions that have to be shined up. But I still have my manual and it tells me that all that is expected of me is faith. So I keep working. Now I bring every shard and chunk of marble to God. He quietly takes all I have to give and doesn’t expect perfection. All He wants is for me to love Him with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my strength. It’s the least I can do for the price of freedom, the debt that was paid by His son, Jesus, for me.
I found God’s truth for me within my Marble Block. When I was encapsulated in the world’s cold, dark, dank perceptions and expectations of myself, I never got to see what God really saw. He gave me the means to discover who He wanted me to be when I became a mother. God freed me from taking ownership of what I believed were the world’s expectations of motherhood. He took my inability to find satisfaction and fulfillment in that role and showed me that no matter how good I was at it, He wouldn’t love me any more – and no matter how bad I was at it, He wouldn’t love me any less. In His eyes I was a lot more than the poor mother that I was in my own eyes. I became a better mother once I realized that I would never be the perfect mother with perfect children.
The joy in this freedom was born out of a lot of pain. My potential as a mother is continually realized through God’s grace. His grace removes the fence of expectations between myself & Him and myself & the world. It is grace alone that allows us to honestly accept the ‘who I am’ in each of us. It is that grace that transforms the ‘who I am’ into what God intended all along. It is only with His grace that I am able to truly live this life!