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When Grace Met Me

Unlike most other days, today I had the sense that perhaps I was gaining back my un-pregnant body—you know, the body that needed to lose just 10 pounds … that one. I bought a new shirt yesterday, so today I took a shower (something that has become a treat since Elias was born), put half a bottle of gel in my long half-curly, half-frizzy hair, drew on some black eyeliner, put on my new hip shirt with my favorite pair of jeans, slipped on my oh-so-cool hemp shoes and set out for work. I was dolled up. I was hip. I was 21 again, before I was hitched, eating as much as my husband (whose stomach is a bottomless pit and whose idea of dessert is another meal) and, of course, before a little critter invaded my mid-section and, strangely, every other part of my body. Running back in the house to grab my diaper bag (because I looked so good I almost forgot I was a mother), I got in my forest green mini-van and rushed to work, so as not to be late.

Now, I work at a maternity home. And let’s just say that the girls there don’t beat around the bush when it comes to any of the staff having a bad hair day. The old saying, “no news is good news” applies around this house of overly hormonal teenagers. If they don’t say a word, it means I have been accepted by their Seventeen/Cosmo/Friends style-o-meter.

They didn’t say a word. I fluttered about with the frothiness of Princess Diana and the confidence of Jennifer Aniston. I even made a point to re-apply my lipstick.

The family of one of the residents came for a short visit. They included a tall mother with man-like legs, broad shoulders and bleach blond hair, and two chubby little kids, both with matching blond hair and icy blue eyes. Their pudgy faces sparkled, making them look sweet and innocent, covering up any mischief that had taken place that day. The little girl took to Elias, my son, though she kept calling him a girl. She played with him and even let him play with her new stuffed bear she had just received at camp. She smiled at me, those sweet pinkish cheeks rising to her eyelids, and I smiled back, admiring her pretty eyes.

“Are you having another one?” she asked, her face suddenly not looking so sweet and innocent.

With all the grace and sweetness I could conjure, as I knew what she meant by her question, I gulped and smiled, covering up my embarrassment. “No …” and then after a brief period of silence, “Why … do I look pregnant?”

Her mischievous face spouted nonchalantly, “Yeah, kinda.”

My mind retorted, Smile, Cristi, she’s a cute little girl who doesn’t really know what she’s talking about … I mean she’s only 8 … What could she know about a pregnant body (other than the fact that her sister had gotten pregnant the first time when she was 15 and was now pregnant a second time, but still …)?

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My mouth retorted with a laugh. Then I tried to be kind and tell her how nice it was to let Elias play with her bear. She said, of my son, “She’s so cute.”

They got in their car to leave. I was left to my mind. And as usual, humility took over my vain glow, and grace swept over my dark heart. Grace always meets us in those moments of crushed vanity … the moments where we realize that we only live and breathe and have our being because of it. And as in every other moment where I have been humiliated, realizing the pride of my heart in thinking I could do good, be good, or in this case, look good, Grace was there, smiling with His innocent face, asking me to lean, not on a perfect figure or the perfect style, but on Him. And He, with a smile, whispered that He would give me beauty.

Maybe it won’t come in the form of a thinner figure or a perfect style, but it will certainly come in the form of something beautiful, for He has promised us this. Grace is the promise of eternity, and if we shall be like Him, then for what more could I ask?

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