I've known Grace for a couple of years. Despite her tendency to sleep in the class I was teaching, I fell in love with her almost immediately. Possibly because she reminds me so much of myself when I was a teenager. Possibly because of her blunt honesty. Maybe it's just something she does, you can't resist loving her. I know of more than one person who shakes their head both at Grace and just how much she can get away with because you can't stay mad at her long.
When Grace needed a place to live, she came to me. My kids agreed almost immediately because they love her as much as I do. She fits into a niche in our family. Her age is right between Bree and Trey. Bree loves the girl talk. Trey loves the fact there is someone who loves Family Guy and The Dictator as much as he does.
We jokingly called her moving in "Operation Space For Grace." All of us knew it wouldn't be easy. We live in a pretty small three bedroom house and I'd just started working again so I didn't have the money to immediately move (the hunt for a four bedroom house is now on). But we quickly realized that "space for Grace" also meant making space for grace-a lot of it.
Grace's belongings are spread over the span of two closets, two boxes in the living room, most of the bathroom and a couple of other nooks and crannies. She sleeps on the sleeper sofa in the living room. It's particularly difficult when she is in a bad mood. Grace doesn't keep her moods to herself...which is another reason she fits right into the family...but unlike the rest of us, she doesn't have a room she can hide in, so we tend to be targets of the bad mood. On the other hand, she has little to no privacy and no where to hide from our incessant theatre talk.
And she moved in during Annie! (God help her!)
It's been an interesting experience. We've tested boundaries in both directions. I have to learn when to be Mama Bear and when to chill. She has to learn to let me Mom her. Some of the things I would quickly hold the kids accountable for, I have to ease up on Grace. Here is a young woman who has overcome insurmountable obstacles to get her GED, start cosmetology school, get job and learn to trust people. The fact she can be a slob is a bit irrelevant. At the same time, she has to accept the fact it is not okay to leave her dishes laying around for other people to pick up for her.
In finding reservoirs of grace for this young woman, I also have to find it for myself. Working two jobs, raising three teenagers, trying to find a new house, the brakes on the car needing repaired...if someone's dirty clothes left on my bed is my breaking point, then I have to be okay with the fact I have a breaking point.
Practicing grace for myself and for the teenagers in my house reminds me to practice it around others as well. I understand a lot of the things about Grace that drive me crazy because I know her, her heart, her story...I don't know the guy who cut me off in traffic this morning but that doesn't mean I should withhold grace. He too has a story.
Grace has taught us that in our hearts, daily practices and every day encounters we need to make space for grace. And that is only one of the gifts she brings to this family.