Welcome to the Grace of Yes Book Club! We're reading Lisa Hendey’s new book, The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living.
This was perhaps the most difficult chapter for me to read (so of course it’s the one I’m asked to reflect on for the book club, go figure…), but think of it as difficult in a good way, the way growing pains are difficult. I’m a sub-fertile woman who comes from a broken home, and I’m trying to create a cenacle hand-in-hand with a sub-fertile man who comes from a broken home of his own.
Grace isn’t something either of us knowingly grew up with or were told to expect much of from the doctors who have treated us over the years. And yet, it’s there with us, simply because it is grace—both the unexpected, unasked for gift from God kind, and the sweating, fighting, rowing-against-each-other-but-at-least-we’re-still-rowing kind that constitutes a generous participation on our part in the life of Christ.
One coin, two sides, big payoff… but only if we’re not in it for the payoff in the first place. Ah, the mystery that is grace.
Lisa never exactly comes right out and says so, but it seems that the grace of generativity is about living so generously that we make ourselves a light to shine on other’s paths to heaven. Sure, it’s nice to love Jesus so much that we want to spend eternity with Him.
In reality, when we give Jesus our “yes,” we draw closer to His heart, and on His heart we see the names of the others He loves—our neighbors, especially our closest neighbors: spouse, children, friends. A generous “yes” to each of those people means that we leave behind our selfish desires when we meet them. We see others as unique gifts with their own unique struggles and destinies. In a spouse, that might mean a private pain that we must offer to share, even if it means a new, unsought pain of our own. In a child, that might mean watching as that child chooses a difficult path, whether avoidable or not. In a friend, that means being there even when we must surrender our own convenience or comfort in order to hold up a friend who is too tired to go on without us.
And with all of these, it might mean our generous love is rejected.
In this chapter, Lisa quotes her parents’s saying, “Never leave one good party in search of another.” In a world gone crazy with dissatisfaction, this saying sounds like blasphemy. However, it’s our faith that teaches the Truth: if we stick with each other just as Christ sticks with us all the way to the Cross, we will rise with Him, and so may any others that follow in His footsteps, even those who followed our footsteps to His.
Lisa points out that the grace of generativitiy is the gift we give of ourselves to the future, both by choice in how we love others now and by God’s help as He chooses to use us in ways we can’t imagine and won’t even get to see this side of the veil. We don’t need to be from perfect homes or have perfectly fertile bodies to leave good gifts for the future.
Yes, that’s some serious grace.
To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:
- In Chapter Two, Lisa says, “My desire for the salvation of my soulmate is as great as my own hope in Jesus Christ.” In relating with your spouse, what is your goal: feeling good in the here-and-now, or helping each other get to heaven? What is one thing you can do today that might help your spouse see not just your desires but his or her eternal value in Christ’s eyes?
- In this chapter, Lisa speaks of the balance we need to “bend without breaking.” Is your struggle more about keeping your world so straight in line with your insecurities that you won’t budge? Or is it about giving away so much of yourself that you don’t even bend—you just snap? What is one thing you can do today that will help you give generously but also flexibly?
- Lisa invites us to examine how we love others including but also beyond our family. In other words, “What kind of friend am I?” Do you ever have trouble making godly friendships because you don’t trust others to love you back as an image of God? What is one step you can make to reach out in trust of God today by trusting another? How can you rely on God to help you when rejection comes your way?
Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week's reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.
Next week, we'll cover Chapter 3: The Grace of Creativity. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Grace of Yes Book Club page.
Copyright 2014 Erin McCole-Cupp
About the Author
Erin McCole Cupp is a wife, mother, and lay Dominican who lives with her family of vertebrates somewhere out in the middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania. She's working with Our Sunday Visitor on a book about parenting spirituality for survivors of family abuse and dysfunction. Find out more about her novels and other projects at ErinMcColeCupp.com.